And now it’s time for an autobiographical story no one asked for. I get one per project, and it’s happening now.
I mentioned before (at the end of a Let’s Play that covered three separate videogames and took nearly two years) that I used to work at a church during my high school years. To be clear, this is likely not what you would immediately picture as “a church”, its form and function was more akin to a Non-Denominational Christian Convention Center. During the summer, there would be a different speaker every week, and, in general, these speakers were people that were nationally known and drew crowds that topped out around 1,300 people. It was, definitively, not your typical church.
Now, a church of that size requires a large staff. Not just for the religious services, but also for “little things” like grounds keeping, custodial services, and even rudimentary office work. And, since this was a church (“church”) that prided itself on helping out the community in uncommon ways, the staff for these tasks was mostly teenagers. There was an adult management group, but the personnel for this whole operation was easily about 80% teenagers mostly originating from the two local high schools. And, since the church dedicatedly paid slightly better than minimum wage, it wasn’t a bad job for someone that might otherwise be stuck working at Jimmy’s All-Nite Chiken ‘n Taters.
Of course, this was still a church, so the majority of kids working there came from one of two circumstances:
1. Their parents thought they were godless, irredeemable sinners, so go get a job at a church, maybe they’ll straighten you out.
2. Their parents were overly zealous, dedicated Christians, and getting a job at a faceless, godless company would ruin their faith forever. How about you work with Men of God at a church?
Now, I want to be clear here that, should anyone reading this be a parent thinking about sending their child to work at a church for either of the above reasons, neither option up there actually works. The “bad kids” pal around with the bad kids, and they network to learn new and exciting ways to deceive their parents so they can get back to doing the drugs and the sexes. And the Flanders children? Well, you really want someone to lose their faith, send them to a dedicated Christian job or Christian University. They’ll thus inevitably see exactly how the sausage of souls is made, and likely lose their faith for a solid month or two while they reconcile how a Cardinal can house an entire bagel tray while people starve outside in the cold.
But, then again, that isn’t how it worked out for Kevin.
Kevin is someone I still speak to, and he kind of has a public job, so I’m using a pseudonym. I also, now twenty years later, know how Kevin has turned out. He’s a kindergarten teacher. I’m pretty sure he was going to be a kindergarten teacher from the time he was in kindergarten. He has that exact personality, and I don’t know how else to describe it as “he’s Mr. Rogers” (I should have just called him Roger, dammit…). He is nice, caring, and unerringly patient. I’m certain he is always going to be this way, and, ultimately, always has been this way. We need more Kevins in this world.
However, this kind of personality is rather undesirable when you’re a teenager that is working at a church where you’re one of the “dedicated Christian” kids, and you’re dealing with other teenagers that are, ya know, teenagers.
One other thing that went on at this church was the “guest list”. This was still back in the day before cheap (“cheap”) tablets and computers being used for public data entry, so, every week, the “congregation” at this church “signed in” by hand with as much information as they wanted to provide. A lot of people simply wrote their names, but many more people actually listed their full addresses. This church drew people from coast to coast, so there was no small amount of bragging involved if you happened to travel literal days to see one speaker. Additionally, as everyone knew, if you signed in with your address, you’d receive mailings of brochures for upcoming speakers (very important in the time before reliable website schedules), and, of course, the occasional request for donations. As these donations were central to the church, it was the responsibility of the teenage office staff to spend the whole week typing these handwritten addresses into the church’s unwieldy database. This was a gigantic job, and if you want to guess the name of the geek that earned his first official job in tech converting this database into a format that wouldn’t stop functioning as of Y2K, feel free. It starts with “Goggle”.
Of course, anyone that has dealt with teenagers and hand-written data entry knows that you need more than a few safeguards to confirm the job is actually getting done. For the congregation, there was never any obvious check mark for whether a person was already in the database (aka someone had visited and provided their address before), so it wasn’t unusual to see someone tossing entire reams of paper in the trash without entering a single name “because they’re already in there”. Hell, you could “finish” this job and get back to smoking behind the sanctuary by claiming literally everyone was already in the database. And you’d never know if your dedicated employee was even reading the pages before declaring them done. So, just for giggles, it was determined that the more senior staff would write in “fake” entries. This was something that was already happening thanks to some random funny (“funny”) guests that had visited the church, so it wouldn’t upset the apple cart to throw in a few ringer names. Basically, on a few pages every Sunday, amongst the other names, we’d scribble down “Seymour Butts” or alike, and let that sink into the pile. If someone doing data entry that week mentioned “Ha ha, someone wrote down this funny name” to someone else in the office, you knew they were actually reading these sheets. And, while some “funny names” would inevitably be missed or ignored, you had a pretty good handle on whether or not someone was paying attention if they literally never acknowledged the fake names.
Kevin was frequently on data entry. Kevin, according to available evidence, read all of the names. Kevin usually mentioned the fake names, chuckled, and then moved on. But one day, Kevin read one of my fake names, and absolutely freaked out. It wasn’t intended to be a particularly clever fake “name”, it was simply a thought that crossed my mind while I was trying to think of something creative, and I scribbled it down haphazardly one unexceptional Sunday morning. Most of the staff relied on something vulgar for this exercise, I went for the absurd. Kevin wasn’t a complete babe in the woods, he could deal with general offensiveness, but, in this case, I managed to so squarely hit on a phobia that I apparently traumatized Kevin to his core. He immediately needed to be consoled, and, even though he rationally knew this was a deliberately ridiculous entry, it still disturbed him to the point that, even to this day, I feel bad about shaking him to such a degree. Kevin was and is a good guy, I’m still sorry that this bit of nonsense ruined his day.
That fake “name”?
10,000 Angry Bugs in a Human Costume.
… What? I was in church! It put me in a Hellraiser mood!
So I’m not saying Ed Boon is stealing my ideas from twenty years ago (he certainly stole my quarters from that era), but D’Vorah is 10,000 angry bugs in a human costume. That’s her whole deal. She’s a scary bug lady, and I hope Kevin stays far away from the Mortal Kombat franchise.
If you want further details, D’Vorah is the new generation of Tanya, as she always backs the big bad/loser of the game. She betrays Kotal Kahn for Shinnok in MKX, and she betrays Shao Kahn for Kronika in MK11. Other than that, her significant contribution to the plot is earning one of the best, “real” kill kounts in the MK franchise, as she permanently killed “present” Baraka in MKX and “present” Scorpion in MK11… though both of their past versions are alive (“alive” for Scorpion) in MK11. At least Mileena stayed dead!
But she’s mostly just a professional henchman (woman) that is 10,000 angry bugs in a human costume, so… uh… Sorry for the nightmares, Kevin.
Next time: Kotal’s buddies that don’t have anything to do with childhood trauma.