Friday, November 19, 2004

Come to Jesus Meeting

Earlier this week, I met with the headhunter who placed me at my current firm. This guy, who we will call 'B' recently closed the agency he founded, and he stopped by to tell me about his new business venture and to meet my director, who we will call 'C'. (How creative am I with these clever code names?)

A few minutes into the meeting, B began to tell us about his life. Somewhere along the path, the narrative took a strange detour. Before we knew it, B was telling us about how he had suffered from manic episodes from his early teens through is mid-twenties and that he had spent the better part of that time in and out of psychiatric institutions. He told us about the time he walked across a four lane highway with his eyes closed because Jesus told him to do it. Then about the time he was driving a car and hit a telephone pole going over 100 mph, which nearly split the car in two before crashing down on the roof of the vehicle, crushing it. Apparently, it took the police quite a while to cut him out of the wreck but he emerged without a scratch. He claimed to have a number of stories of that nature, which apparently reinforced in his mind the favored status he enjoys in God's eyes as a result of his faith. He then veered off into his religious studies, claiming to be an expert in Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, and about seven other -isms that I lost track of. He also told us that he's a martial arts expert whose knowledge is rivaled by only about four or five other people in the world. The last claim was difficult to believe when you consider that it came from a man that stood about 5'7 , weighed about 200 lbs, and carried a big pot belly.

Now I hadn't spoken to B for a few weeks, which was rare in that he tends to call me about once a week. He explained that absence as well. It turns out that a few weeks ago he found himself surrounded by police in a nearby park. Later, he discovered that his wife had called the police claiming to be in fear of her life because B thought that he was Jesus Christ and might possibly use his martial arts expertise to harm her and their daughter. Now, I don't recall reading anything about Jesus being a martial arts expert, nor do I think that any of His followers needed to fear their safety, at least as far as He was concerned, so clearly B was more of a Jesus for the new millennium. Anyway, they brought him to a local psychiatric hospital and had him committed for a period of six weeks. According to B, this was done not because he was insane, but because the admitting doctor had a crush on B's wife. You can't make this stuff up. After six weeks, B gained his release, evaded his wife, who was waiting in the lobby, went home, snuck his car out to the garage and has been on the run from her ever since.

Now I'm lucky enough to have this guy in my office, and C and I are exchanging nervous glances because (1) this story is endless - at this point he's been speaking non-stop for about 45 minutes - and (2) B is slowly unzipping his backpack and reaching inside. As we waited with baited breath, he pulled out a mission statement for his new venture that he wrote while he was in the hospital, and hands it to C. Taking the paper, C tells B that he will glance at it very quickly, but that he is late for another meeting. Later, C tells me that the statement started out fairly coherent, but that it quickly descended into gibberish. As C walks out the door, I stand up and tell B that I, too, am late for another meeting.

As we walk down the hall to the elevator, B turns to me and says "I hope I didn't blow your whole paradigm of me." To which I reply, "No B, I know you. I'm not a judgmental kind of guy, and I respect the things you were telling us." B frowns at me and says "What do you mean you're not judgmental? What is that supposed to mean?" Now I'm getting even more nervous, and I say "Well, maybe judgmental wasn't the right word. What I meant to say is that the things you told me didn't change my opinion of you one way or another." This statement is true, but only because I've always felt that B was a little insane. Because I'm concerned about what B might do next, I feel the need to escort him all the way down to the lobby, which means that I have to endure several more minutes of painful small talk as we wait for the elevator, and that I have to ride alone with him down to the lobby. Finally, we get downstairs and say goodbye.

When I came back upstairs, I quickly called security and asked that B be banned from the building. Next, I asked the switchboard forward any calls that B makes to any of our staff directly to my voice mail. As I'm doing this, I see his number pop up on my call ID, but I let the call go to voice mail. When I play the message, I hear B telling me "Joe, I was thinking about why you and C appeared so uncomfortable in our meeting." Gee, did we really appear uncomfortable? Do you think it could it be because you were SCARING THE HELL OUT OF US? "And," he continues, "I thought I should add this disclaimer. I'm not Jesus Christ. I just thought that I needed to tell you guys that. Anyway, have a nice day and be well."

I need to get out of NY soon. Between B and the number of people I've had to fire over the past few years, it's only a matter of time before I wind up shot.