A friend on Facebook had joined a group of Star Wars fans that is dedicated to making May 4th the official Star Wars Day, even going so far as to dare people to wear costumes of popular characters to their jobs. Why May 4th? Well, if you have to ask the question, you're not really a fan, since every fan knows the most famous line from the movies: "May the Force Be With You!"
Since this was the first time I had ever heard about it, I thought it was pretty cool. What a clever day to pick...and right between May Day and Cinco de Mayo, too. Perfect.
Yesterday, I was feeling kind of combative after I left work because of my supervisor and I just going at it, through a conversation with the co-worker I'm helping to write papers for. He had asked me if I went to the Jai Ho! Bollywood dance party on Saturday night. I mentioned that I had gone to the Crystal Ballroom and was dismayed when the lights were off and the doors were locked. I noticed in the lobby that the calendar of events indicated that the Jai Ho! Bollywood dance party was scheduled for May 15th, not May 1st. The newspaper had it wrong. I wasn't the only one at the door. There was also a middle aged Indian lady in a sari, who looked disappointed. When I told the co-worker that I was kind of glad to see that a middle aged Indian lady was planning to go, he couldn't understand why. So, I explained that it meant that this was a family friendly event, not just a bunch of crazy people in their 20s. The co-worker didn't understand what I was getting at and he seemed really baffled that I was okay with middle aged parents attending.
Our differences in how we view things was not surprising to me. My first impression of the guy is that he's a smooth operator. He wears a little too much cologne (always making my sinuses go crazy when he's nearby), he's extroverted and a natural schmoozer, he's often overcommitted on his go-go-go lifestyle (he has way too much going on in his life that I would not be able to deal with in my own life). I've seen how he flirts with women, too. At our February staff party (the event before the strip club incident), he had flirted with a way-too-pretty cocktail waitress. Afterwards, he wanted to know what I thought of her. My honest opinion was that I didn't think much of her. Yeah, she was pretty and flirty, but I know enough about women to know that she would never be attracted to a guy like me. Not that I was attracted to her. I've had my heart broken too many times by falling too easily for the beautiful-but-shallow type that it is hardwired into my brain that these women and I are not compatable. My type is best represented by Audrey Tautou (I've seen her on interviews and she always seems a bit nervous, though her intelligence and realness does come across, which I find really attractive qualities).
As I tried to explain to my co-worker about how I guage people in public settings, my supervisor had to chime in by calling me judgmental. This Mormon lady who belongs to one of the most judgmental religions I've ever come across (BYU was notorious for students judging other students by superficial standards, with the worst judgments reserved for those who were not members of the LDS Church) is going to say that I'm judgmental! So, I tried to explain my modus operandi. In a public setting, I like to observe people for awhile to get a sense of who I would be most comfortable talking with. Because I'm the type of person who will engage anyone in conversation if they came up to me and initiated one, I much prefer to be approached. I'm genuinely interested in people and learning about them, so I value any one-on-one conversation with strangers. Unfortunately, most people are not the same way. I've experienced enough snobbery by phony superficial people who are so enamoured of their own beauty that I pretty much can spot them a mile away. I don't like to waste time. As I learned recently when I made an attempt to talk to a pretty girl, she tolerated me for a minute or two before rudely turning her head the other direction to let me know that she was through with me. All that physical beauty was wasted on her. I just don't understand people like that. Just talking with her, I knew there wasn't any kind of real connection between us, but isn't it nice just to get to know someone without expectations? You never know what you might miss out on. Superficial people seem to seek people they might find useful later in getting whatever it is that they want. I just like knowing interesting people and having meaningful conversations.
Anyhow, my co-worker and my supervisor think my "system" is too complicated and judgmental. I see it as a screening feature to protect me from phonies. God how I can't stand phony people. On the campaign I'm volunteering on, the candidate's wife told me about her impression of a guy who had run for City Council in 2008. I was stunned that her impression of him was the exact same as my impression of him: phony and shallow! She described him perfectly when she said her impression was that he sizes you up when you talk to him, wondering if you would be beneficial to helping him in some way. If they don't think that you would benefit them in some way, they ignore you and move on to the next person. I've known people like that since the Navy and I've never gotten along with people like that. When I meet people, I'm interested in their story, their experiences, the way they view the world. The thought never crosses my mind when I meet people: "How might this person help me get what I want?" Its disgusting that there are people like that out there. But, I've learned in my early 20s that people who think that way generally don't like me. My preference for having deep conversations with people early on tends to scare away the shallow types.
None of my explanations helped the co-worker or supervisor to understand my way of being. They seem to think my preference for observing people before I make my move is being judgmental. Oh well. If they've lived 38 years in my body, I doubt that they'd do things differently. Why waste time initiating a conversation with a shallow person if they're just going to reject me after a few sentences? I'm in search of real people. Phony people aren't worth my time. When I interned in D.C., I actually made some fellow BYU interns laugh when they overheard me tell my superficial roommate (that none of the three of us liked very much): "Don't even talk to me until you get some depth!" Plastic people aren't capable of authentic friendships, so its a good thing if you have the ability to repel them early on.
I kind of left work in a foul mood. I had some errands to run, which included a stop at the local mall (which is well known for gang turf wars). As I walked from one store to another, I passed by a cart with a vendor selling Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard. He asked if I wanted a free stress test. I declined and he said, "Maybe next time." After picking up things in a few stores, I walked past the vendor again. This time there were three of them. One of them pesters me about getting the free stress test. Instead of walking by and ignoring them, I actually stopped and let them have it. I told them that I could not afford Scientology, that the $300,000 it costs to achieve "enlightenment" could be achieved for free with Buddhism. One of the guys asked if I was a Buddhist, because he didn't like that I called Scientology a ponzi scheme and a cult. They asked me what I knew about it, so I told them what I knew. Of course they denied it (why are true believers always in denial?). One of them kept asking if I was a Buddhist, because he said a Buddhist would never attack their religion. I told him that I was not a Buddhist, but liked some of the ideas. It went on for awhile, before they gave up and I gave up. They probably thought I really needed a stress test! I'm sure they had a good laugh about me after I left.
What's amazing to think about, though, is that this is the first time I've ever come across a "religion" seeking members at a cart in the middle of a shopping mall. How low class can you get? There's a Scientology Center in downtown Portland, but I guess that's too out of the way. I often see Scientology tents at various community events. I wonder how many people get suckered into the free stress test. All I can say is, if you're one of those naive people who see nothing wrong with taking a free stress test from this ponzi-"religion" (that was created by a second-rate science fiction author in the 1950s), SAVE YOUR MONEY! Here's what will happen if you take the stress test. The result is that they will claim that you need Scientology to get rid of your "thetan." They'll set up an appointment to go to the office for an auditing session. These auditing sessions are recorded, so if you reveal your deepest, darkest secrets, the cult of Scientology will keep this info on file in case you ever speak out against them. Its blackmail from one of the most paranoid and authoritarian "churches" around. No average person can afford to take all the auditing courses to be declared "thetan-free." If you want to achieve enlightenment, its far cheaper and more credible with the Buddhists. Besides, Buddhism has been around for more than 2,500 years. Scientology has been around for about 50 years. Who's more reliable?
After my battle with the Scientology zombies, I had to get a Chai Latte. Man, did that drink hit the right spot. Perhaps if I had drunk it earlier, I would not have gotten into it with those Scientologists. In case you're wondering how I rank the religions, Scientologists would rank near the bottom. I have more respect for Jehovah's Witnesses, Wiccans, Santerians, Animists, militant atheists, and Hare Krishnas than I do for Scientologists. I think Moonies are about the same as Scientologists: mindless minions in a cult of personality. Heck, I respect Sarah Palin more than I do a Scientologist. She's certainly smarter than one (and that's saying a lot!).
In honour of Star Wars Day, here's a cool image I found in a Google search that is appropriate for today's post. Enjoy!