The Office, Day 1

After over 30 years of leasing, our church is finally building our own facility.? On Tuesday, a moving company moved our offices into the new building. ?The rest of the building isn?t finished, but the offices are ready enough for us to start working there. I wasn?t in town Wednesday when everyone else moved in, so yesterday was my day to organize my office.

I walk in and find the other 2 pastors, Joe and my son Stephen, have already organized their offices. Stephen?s collection of rare and weird knickknacks sits atop his alphabetically organized bookshelf, mocking me. ?The crying pumpkin seems sad at how much work lies ahead of me. ?The stuffed bacon pillow and the Francis of Assisi statue smile condescendingly as if to say you?ll never be as organized as Stephen.

I enter my office. ?Boxes strewn everywhere. ?One of the secretaries started to arrange my commentaries but quit because she didn?t know my ?system.? ?My system’s so complex the Dewey decimal pales in comparison. ?Mine relies heavily on the book cover color and placing the most impressive books (with titles like The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas) at eye level to make a good first impression.

Before organizing I must strengthen myself up with a cup of coffee. ?I discover there?s no running water at the building yet, which means no coffee.? When one of our secretaries finds me on the kitchenette floor in fetal position weeping, she volunteers to run to the old building for water, coffee, grinder, and all the other things necessary for ministry. ?Ok, I think I?ll be alright. ?If I can survive till she gets back.

A little later, coffee steaming in mug on my desk, I begin to organize my books.? I start with some semblance of a plan, but after 45 minutes, with multiple boxes of books still unpacked, I throw them on the shelves willy-nilly. ?I?ll organize them later, like in 2017. ?Better have some more coffee.

Books on shelves, I now try to get on the Internet. ?Of course I need to enter complicated codes, passwords, moon launch data and protein chains to connect. ?So I take my laptop to techno-guru Stephen, who?s reading one of his well-organized books beneath the gaze of the crying pumpkin.

He hooks me up, and I open Gmail to find I have 259 emails. ?Apparently I?ve been hacked. ?The virus or grubworm that infected me mailed all my contacts inviting them to invest in my new Wildebeest farm in Africa. ?So multitudes of concerned friends are emailing me back to tell me they think I got hacked. ?I think it was the ?Yo, wassup?? in the subject line that tipped them off.

I change my password to something more complex than before – I guess using ?Mark? wasn?t a good idea – and paste my entire contacts list into an email apologizing for any inconvenience my Wildebeest proposal caused them.? As soon as I hit “send,” a message pops up saying I can?t mail to more than 100 people at a time, and because I tried, I must be a spammer and Gmail shuts down my ability to send email for 24 hours.

Lying on the floor in a fetal position weeping, I hear my secretary buzz to tell me there?s a call for me on our new phone system. Of course, I missed the phone system training Wednesday, so I begin frantically pushing buttons and lights at random and cut off my caller. ?Minutes later, my secretary buzzes me. ??He called back and he?s on line 701.? ?Whatever happened to lines 1,2 and 3? We have only 7 on staff. ?Why do we have a line 701?

I punch every button again, and cut him off again. ?The third time he calls, my secretary gets his number so I can call him back on my cell phone.

I check my email again.? I still can?t send any. ?20 more people have mailed to say I got hacked. But one person wants to invest $5000 dollars in my Wildebeest farm. ?I guess the day wasn’t a total loss.

book photo by jaymiek

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Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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