Working for Ambassador College in Pasadena, California proved to have some unusual challenges.
Fridays in particular were always an interesting and difficult day. For both students and employees alike, it was payday. We could all sigh, made it through another week. While the working environment, for the most part, was very nice….the pay was, (not a complaint, just a reality), poor unless you were among the ministerial staff.
Friday was also the day of preparation for the coming Sabbath. All work and business related activities had to cease by sundown. During the summer, it was not a problem because sunset was quite late. However, during the winter months, it was next to impossible because sundown was very close to 4:30 pm.
The workday on Fridays, during the winter, always ended at 4:00 pm, this just gave us 30 minutes to get our banking and shopping done. It was just not enough time. Because of this, we could depend on it being a frantic day, too much to do, not enough time to get it all done before the Sabbath.
The Chief Apostle instructed, no, actually, he demanded that all the employees, as well as church members, have all work related tasks completed before sundown or God would surly curse and punish us with sickness, disease or severe financial trouble. He was very serious, and strongly advised us to be the same. Fear was a very strong motivator. No one wanted God’s wrath or anger to fall upon them. This made the situation very tense.
No question about it, it was a real hassle, requiring a great deal of organization to get everything done so we could get home, be sitting in a comfortable chair and reading our Bibles before the Sabbath started. No Way! It was noble goal. For those few that were able to accomplish this task, they found this to be an ordeal that led to complete physical and mental exhaustion.
Trying to keep the Law was an emotional fantasy. Obeying the Law was an exercise in futility.
To make matters worse, we did not receive our paychecks until late Friday afternoon, well past the lunch hour. This circumstance forced us to do our banking, and shopping dangerously close to the beginning of the Sabbath.
All the employees at the bottom of the food chain were living, barely living, from paycheck to paycheck. We absolutely needed to cash our checks and go to the store for groceries. It was not a matter of choice but one of survival.
On this one particular late Friday afternoon in December, it seem as though all the college employees, and half of Pasadena converged on the Bank of America to cash their payroll checks. The lines were long and moving very slowly, patience’s were growing short, and tempers were beginning to fray and flare up. We all just wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible, then to the store, and then home to collapse.
At the bank, there were long lines and they moved at a snail’s pace. It almost seems as if time had completely stopped and progress came to an abrupt halt. We were at a standstill, but the clock was still ticking down toward our doom. The Sabbath was now less than 30 minutes away and because of the tension, beads of sweat began to form on our foreheads. We found ourselves trapped in the twilight between madness and insanity, a check cashing frenzy, then it happened……
I am not sure why, but it always seemed there were some parents that were completely inconsiderate of others, they would bring their little kids to the already overcrowded bank. Then turn them loose! Children being what they are, just children, would run throughout the bank getting into mischief, they simply annoyed everyone. Our patience at this late hour was growing short, very short.
One woman was getting extremely impatient not only with the long line, but with her 4-year-old son as well. This little rascal was just bubbling over with energy. He was running up and down the line bumping into people and being a general and irritating nuisance. She kept telling him, to stop and be still. Unfortunately, her requests and even threats he ignored. He was just a mischievous little kid, making the best of his confinement in the bank with all these tall and angry trees, call adults, looking down on him.
His mother’s quiet demeanor was definitely changing, you could see it in her eyes; she was becoming irritated and distressed. In total despair, she finally yelled at him, which drew the attention of the entire bank. This time she yelled with all the authority that only a distressed and angry mother could muster in her voice. “Child be still!!” she bellowed like an angry warrior about to do battle. His playful activities came to a screeching halt. He looked at her for a moment, you could almost read his mind as he was trying to size the situation up, was she really going to do anything to him in this public setting, the obvious conclusion he made was no. So he continued his running and jumping, giggling and laughing…BIG, BIG mistake! By this time, she had finally had enough of the long lines, rude tellers, and one irritating child. She asked the woman behind her if she would be kind enough to hold her place in line while she took care of her boy. The answer, without hesitation was an astounding yes, yes, YES, PLEASE take care of him!
She grabbed this little rascal firmly by the shoulders, held her nose an inch away from his and scolded him severely for being a brat. She walked over to a solid Oak chair and slam-dunked him into it. She waved her authoritative finger inches from his face and told him, “Don’t you dare move ’till I get back!! The little kid was obviously upset and distressed. Tears began to fill his eyes and flow down his little cheeks. There was no comfort from his mommy. As she turned to take her place back in line to the silent cheers of the rest of us, he started to cry, and then he burst into tears.
With tears in his eyes and now streaming down his cheeks, he said as loud as he could in his sobbing little voice, “Mommy! Mommy! You broke my balls!!”……She stopped dead in her tracks her eyes somewhat bulged and her mouth dropped open. All activity in the bank ceased, it became so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop. Everyone was staring at her. Her face now flushed red with embarrassment; she turned back towards her son, and looked at him with astonishment and disbelief. She was completely embarrassed at what he just said. The poor little guy slowly slid off the hard wooden chair, reached into is back pockets. He then pulled out two very badly crushed and mangled ping-pong balls and handed them to her……All at once the entire bank broke into laughter.
Child she said, I love you. She gave him a big hug and kiss to the applause and approval of us all.
Sometimes the comedy campus even went into town, we could witness the hilarious scenes of unexpected humor that would live on for generations to come…..
Our heavenly Father has a great deal more patience with us than our earthly parents could ever have. He smiles and sometimes-even laughs at our stupid antics, and as adults we can pull some good ones! He has made a firm promise, and sealed it with the life of His Son, He will never, ever, not even for a moment leave or forsake us, His children. Now that is something you can take to the bank!
Lewis Boring was there when this drama began to unfold. It took place sometime during the early 1970’s while he was in line to cash his payroll check.