Alia had an educational evaluation scheduled at JF&CS today. It didn't start off well. The waiting room was packed with people waiting to get their food from the pantry. It was crowded, loud and for my eight year old, intimidating. She immediately started tearing up, her breathing increased rapidly and she ran to hide in the corner away from the people and behind a trash can. It took me a few minutes to calm her down, re-explain why we were there and to distract her anxiety by letting her play games on my phone.
Eventually, the psychologist administering the test arrived. I walked Alia to a room upstairs and then proceeded back to the chaotic waiting area.
Sitting directly next to me was a woman in a blue worn-out sweatsuit, graying black hair pulled back in a full ponytail that sat at the nape of her neck and an expression of determination. She spoke loudly and to everyone in the room. She extolled the glories of Jesus, challenged others in the room as to their beliefs regarding Jesus and attempted to instill in them their error of ways.
There were arguments and debates and amens and other such things. They agreed with her, opposed her, questioned her. She remained firm. She was chosen by G-d to preach the truth to everyone at all times. Three times staff came out and asked her to lessen her voice. Each of those times, she equated that with the devil trying to shut her up, and reasserted her right to preach the gospel (at the Jewish facility). She continued her rhetoric. "That's right! My G-d gave me Jesus Christ and there ain't no playing with the truth! No sir. It all comes to the Book. If it ain't in the book, it ain't Jesus. People be talkin' 'bout what they believe, worshipping the idols like the saints and Christmas trees. Jesus ain't playin' - you in or you out. When he come, you better already be in or you ain't goin'. I got news for them Jews and Catholics. They the anti-Christ cause if they don't believe then my..." In jumps me.
Me (loudly, and knowing full well it doesn't do any good to argue with Crazy): Excuse me?! That is offensive!
Crazy Jesus Lady: I ain't tryin' to be O-ffensive. If you ain't got Jesus...
Me (knowing full well it doesn't do any good to argue with Crazy): Listen. You listen to me. You can believe what you want to believe. I can believe what I want to believe. (At this point I notice that all ears in the room are listening.) You can speak what you believe and I can speak what I believe. But you cannot sit here and call Jews the anti-Christ or any other name. That is crossing the line!
Crazy Jesus Lady: I ain't trying to be O-ffensive. When the end of times come, Jesus will show you.
Me (knowing full well I am the only Jew in the waiting room, the only person not waiting around for food from the pantry, and the only person annoyed by Crazy Jesus Lady, and knowing full well it doesn't do any good to argue with Crazy): You cannot call Jews names and not be offensive! That is the line in the sand. Keep the unkind parts of your religion to youself. (No, that is not a typo. I actually did say "youself" instead of "yourself." I have no idea where that came from. My days of working at St. Louis Centre came out!)
She then turned to the crowd, and continued loudly with her Jesus schpiel. Time elapses.
Note my restraint. :)
Crazy Jesus Lady (uncomfortably close and still extremely loud): I ain't mean to be O-ffensive. I am a Christian and I am 'posed to be nice to my enemies. I didin' mean to be O-ffensive; I just talking the words that G-d put into my mouth and tryin' to tell everybody how Jesus is King. Can I give you a hug, cause I don't mean to be O-ffensive feelings.
Me: I am a germaphobe and I prefer not to hug strangers.
Crazy Jesus Lady: We good?
As soon as Crazy Jesus Lady left, the woman on the far side said that she used to work at Chai Apartments. The old lady she helped out taught her all sorts of things from the Jewish culture, like how to make "those potatoe things" (latkes), that good twisted bread (challah) and other such things. She apologized for Crazy Jesus Lady, saying she took things too far. I told her, "Don't worry. I won't judge all Christians by her behavior." to which she replied, "Thank you. She just done misunderstood 'at."
We continued to discuss...her 10 kids, my 3, birthdays, hairstyles, cooking. Pretty soon, a bunch of us were having a great conversation and connecting as one only does in the waiting room of a food pantry. Soon Alia was returned to me and we left to go home.