(The following post is an edited copy of a follow-up journal entry to my previous post on Bud, the Invisible Man and my vocation to take up the role of Jesus in his life and in my workplace. This post is a continuation of that story.)
September 19, 1996
I have an update on the invisible man. I have shared my lunchtime, at work, several times in the last 3 weeks or so with Bud, the invisible man, and his invisible partner, Norm.
Bud is a grody, unattractive individual. Norm isn’t much better. Bud is, however, vulgar in his conversations; Norm is not. In fact I have felt repulsed by Bud’s conversation. This is not uncommon for my experience with him. Still, I consider him one of God’s creatures, and I show him friendship.
Today, Norm was not there. I took lunch a little early, and so I sat outside at the smokers table – alone. Soon Bud came out for break and joined me.
I had chosen a place where quite often people gather for lunch, and soon we were surrounded by [test] drivers. Bud spoke freely among us. However, he was like a drummer without rhythm in a marching band. He did not fit. Fortunately, he did not get vulgar, but I kept fearing he would. I was afraid my new friend would become offensive to others.
When I finished my sandwich, I got up and quietly left. I went to get a pop, but I knew I had left Bud there alone among the drivers, and socially he was out of his element – really far out. (Though I felt uneasy there with him, I also had a morbid fascination wondering what would happen if I left.)
I felt like a mother leaving her baby to the wolves. But I did not know a more graceful way to spare myself or Bud (or the others) the pain and awkwardness of dealing with him if he chose to get vulgar. [I was hoping my absence might induce Bud to step away too before he got up his steam.]
Then I came back to my spot shortly after that, and as I’d figured, Bud had gone back to work and left the group. I felt sad for him, and I watched him dump trash.
After a few minutes we were joined by Janice. She is a somewhat attractive, friendly – even bubbly blonde. She is a [test] driver, like most of us at that break table were. She announced, “That scuzzy janitor told me a really bad joke yesterday! He is disgusting. I told him not to talk to me anymore.”
Well, that’s not an exact quote, but she did say “scuzzy.” [Suddenly,] I felt eyes on me. What would be my reaction? I thought they were waiting….
At first, I had none. Ben asked her to tell Bud’s joke. “NO!” she replied with her cutesy, flirtatious whine. “It was really bad.”
So I said, “I bet I can top it.”
Ben laughed, “Me too.”
I have been wondering where this will lead. That seemed to be the extent of today’s relevant conversation and subsequent feedback.
I understand Janice’s reaction and repulsion to Bud. I hope that a monster of vulgarity has not been unleashed on all the young, sweet, attractive ladies on the [corporate complex]. Simultaneously, I see that Bud is no longer invisible. He is now disliked outright. My care for him opened his imagination to new social possibilities, and I had subtly ushered him into the midst of “the in crowd.” But then I abandoned him at the lunch table. I was out of my element too. New territory (for everyone).
Bud was not received well. The ice on the dialog of this topic cracked. I am curious to see where it will lead, but it does not look pretty. I fear it could be me they crucify in this, and Bud and Norm will scatter. I learn this from the [script I read for this drama – for the one taking the role of Jesus].
Mark 14:27 NCV
Then Jesus told his followers, “You will all stumble in your faith, because it is written in the script: ‘I will kill the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter.'”
I figure that if I am to imitate Jesus then I will pay in a similar fashion as him. [Not with outright crucifixion/execution to be sure, but perhaps it could lead to social ostracism, lousy assignments from the boss, or even getting fired!] I need to offer to Bud and Norm a love that they can take with them. They may disappear or any number of things could separate us. Probably time is of the essence. Or perhaps I should try to pursue this even more in my off time hours. I do not have great expectations for these guys. Maybe God does. [I trust] that he is at work here.
If Janice goes to supervision, Bud could lose his job or be asked not to socialize with drivers. He could be told to take his lunch elsewhere or even work at another location. If these things happen, he deserves it. He will not get what he deserves from me. He will be shown the love of God from me – I hope.
I look at my supervisors. They are not dumb. They see what is happening. What are they thinking about him? … about me?
Time will tell, but I doubt that they are concerned much with God’s love for invisible people.
[As I look back on this entry, I fully recognize that I can be criticized for having a ‘savior complex.’ But I also think that is actually appropriate at some levels. The only thing missing here is that I should have been someone else’s lamb too. I was a novice Christian, exploring my life in faith. I really needed a mentor to speak with about these things, but I did not have that. And in the 19 years since, I have yet to find one in my church.]