Burning Bosom

Theology, History, Culture, Politics & Life from a LDS (Mormon) Perspective

The Absolute Worst Job In The Church

Posted by Shawn L on January 29, 2008

At 35 years old and a lifelong member, I’ve been around the proverbial block a few times when it comes to Church assignments.  Callings — I’ve had them all, from Primary teacher to Elders’ Quorum President and everything in between.  I’ve moved chairs, swept floors, drained baptismal fonts via shop-vacs, picked apples on a welfare farm, hung crepe papers, put up hundreds of Christmas lights, manned the DI trailer, taken down hundreds of Christmas lights, and delivered dozens of meals to all manner of incapacitated individuals.  If you can think of an assignment, I’ve signed the sheet as it passes through Quorum meeting. 

Each of these jobs has its benefits, and we certainly can talk about them in another post.  But this week, after pondering my years of experience, I finally decided which one of all of the many responsibilities I have fulfilled is the one I dread the very most . . . .

Building lockup

Admit it, you know I’m right.

On paper, it sounds like a breeze.  It takes a total of 10 minutes every night, usually for a one week stretch.  All one has to do is go through the building, check each classroom to verify that it is empty and the lights are out, and then make sure all of the doors are closed and locked.  

Sounds easy, right?  Well, the rub is you have to wait until approximately 10:00 p.m., when everyone is long gone, before beginning your work.  And let me tell you, there is no place creepier at night than a church building.   I just finished my latest hitch on Saturday night.  I tell you, those speakers outside the Bishops’ offices blowing white noise always sound like packs of kids whispering about how they are going to scare the living daylights out of me.  To complicate matters, my building has two floors, and I just know that whatever bogeyman there may be lurking about is in the last room where a single light is still on. 

Thankfully, I have never run into any problems doing lockup duty, but I have heard plenty of stories.  You’ve heard them, too — some poor sap goes to the church only to find a gang of angry youths wreaking havoc in the chapel.  Now, I’m seasoned enough to know that most of these tales are, in all likelihood, apocryphal.  But I still think of them every single time I’m in the dark, (hopefully) empty church. Even worse, my father (a reliable source, if there ever was one) tells the story of how, nearly 55 years ago, he and his mother were locking up their big SLC building after a weekday Primary meeting.  My dad, then a kid, opened the door to an upstairs Sunday School room to find a homeless man, who promptly back out through the window.  Yikes!  Who knows, that same dude, now at least 140 years old, could be upstairs in my building right now, just waiting to jump out at me and finish the job!

I recognize that this post may paint me as a real pansy.  But, I defy you to identify a worse church job.  Go ahead, I dare you!  Also, let me know if you have ever actually had any run-ins with ne’er-do-wells in fulfilling your duties.  On second thought, maybe I don’t want to know . . .

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9 Responses to “The Absolute Worst Job In The Church”

  1. David T. said

    As someone who needs to get in the building often when no one is there, I totally agree with you regarding the creepiness of the place. Why is that, I wonder? My wife once warned my 11-year old daughter not to run ahead alone because there have been times (supposedly before we moved in the ward) that hobos were found in there. So now, every time the daughter and I go in when it’s empty, we make the running joke: “Thar be HOBOS about!”

    As for worse jobs, I can’t compare because I haven’t actually had that job. My choice from experience would have to be Second Counselor of the Sunday School because nothing has made me feel less useful or valued. Even program writer has more cachet.

  2. Kerry K. said

    I do agree that a church can be creepy in the dark…especially the chapel. I don’t know what it is, the dead silence, all of the scary pews, the dark corners, etc. I don’t really get spooked all that often, but a dark LDS church will do it to me.

    As far as worst job in the church, I do have one that rivals Building Lockup. And that is taking the garbage out of the bathrooms and carrying them to the dumpster that is 100 yards away. The stench of week-old dirty diapers and whatever else is in the (female) bathroom garbage is rank enough to wake up my dead uncle who suffered from Anosmia.

  3. Marc L said

    100% in agreement. But nobody mentioned all the creepy stories, or the funerals.

    I don’t know about you guys but I’ve been in the relief society room too many times when a deceased member was on display at a funeral. When I lock up the building, all I can see in my mind is the creepy coffin (because let’s face it, coffins are creepy) and the peaceful deceased. I know they’re waiting to say hello at a most inopportune time.

    And the stories I’ve heard of strange lights and weird noises in the chapel. People seeing things in mirrors…it’s just all too creepy. I will tell you that- as a convert and former Catholic- NOTHING beats an empty, gothic, old-style Catholic chapel. Now THAT’s creepy. In the meantime, our LDS church lockups are, by far, the scariest, crummiest and most thankless callings.

  4. Aran said

    Nancies, all of you.

    We’ve all been admonished to fortify ourselves spiritually. And some of us have. But I love the better admonishment of fortifying ourselves physically.

    For that reason alone I do the lockup with a high power flashlight, pocket knife, and a large hunting knife. If anyone screws with me on those creepy, cold nights is going to get a scare themselves.

    So go to ebay and buy one of these and do your lockup knowing you’re in good company.
    http://www.knifeworks.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1687

    me

  5. DBM said

    HAHA! I love the post, and especially Aran’s comments above. 😉

    I never had a problem with doing lockup, mostly because I “gird my loins” by just picturing the Lord walking beside me as I travel the dark hallways of His house. That seems to help.

    As for reports of bad things that have happened, we had a group of people come into the church and try to steal computers and other equipment late one evening, and when the poor old LDS guy came to do his lockup duty, he caught them in the act and they actually shot at him! They did a number on the building, including bullet holes everywhere and several shot-out windows, but luckily they left with nothing and nobody was injured. Police caught the people within 24 hours, but man – tell me that wouldn’t catch you off guard and make you not want to do lockup ever again! 🙂

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