Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Lord Will Provide

This is the story of Mike, a wayward sort of fellow, with a very skewed view of religion and life in general. I’ll start it with a joke.

Mike awoke one spring morning to find that the river had flooded the entire first floor of his house. Looking out of his window, he saw that the water was still rising.

Two men passing by on a rowboat shouted up an invitation to row to safety with them.

"No, thank you," Mike replied. "The Lord will provide."

The men shrugged and rowed on.

By evening, the water level forced Mike to climb on top of the roof for safety. He was spotted by a man in a motorboat, who offered to pick him up.

"Don't worry about me," he told him. "The Lord will provide."

Pretty soon, Mike had to seek refuge atop the chimney.

When a Red Cross cutter came by on patrol, he waved it on, shouting, "The Lord will provide."

So the boat left, the water rose, and poor old Mike drowned.

Dripping wet and thoroughly agitated, he came through the Pearly Gates and demanded to speak to God.

"What happened?" he cried. "I thought you would provide."

"For cryin' out loud, Mike," God said. "I did. I sent you three boats!"
When Mike first came to the company I work for, he wanted a job as a graphic designer. We didn't need one, but he was given the opportunity to learn how to burn plates for flexographic printing. He learned and actually did okay for a person who's never done it before. One thing we noticed right away about his quirky working habits is that he is partially responsible for the success of 3M Corporation. By that, I mean he had Post-It notes everywhere. He had Post-It notes to remind him of other Post-It notes. He worked with us for a while until business dropped off. Then, he was let go. One of the owners here managed to get him a job with a competing company, a few miles away. That worked out until they had seemingly had enough of Mike and his strange views on how to run a business.

Mind you, Mike is in his fifties, so it's not like he's inexperienced in the fine art of diplomacy and work habits. His standard excuse, when told of his unorthodox methods, is, "That's not how we do it in Jamaica, Mon." Oh, by the way, Mike is white, so don't think there's any racial prejudice implied here.

One of the other owners of the business where I work is a very nice guy. Nice to a fault and always willing to help practically anyone out. Mike came back one day and laid his cards out on the table for this other guy. He wanted to open his own silk screening business. He could do shirts, signs and just about anything you could screen. "All I need is a 10' X 10' area in your warehouse to set up shop," he explained. "I will pay you $300 per month, but I need the first 2 months free, to set up and get my business rolling." The two owners discussed it and agreed to give him a shot, although one was quite apprehensive about it.

"I'm warning you. He's not going to pay you one dime. He is going to milk you. Trust me," I emphatically stated.

Mike came in and set himself up. What began as a 10' X 10' area quickly turned into more of a 25' X 25' space, and I'm just talking warehouse here. That means it went from 100 square feet to 625 in a matter of weeks. He hammered here and there and had not yet gone out for any business. Next thing you know, he set up an office right behind me. "I need space to put my computer and run my business, you know, Mon," he told me.

"You know, Mike," I said. "You're coming up on 2 months now and you haven't even tried to get any customers yet. How are you going to pay the rent?"

Mind your own business. "The Lord will provide." And so He did. Mike has this knack of finding churches willing to help out the little guy. This particular one gave him $2,000 to help. Suckers. Not one cent of whatever money he acquired by any means was ever applied to rent. He spent his first 6 months here trying to formulate a plan. One partner wanted him out. The other was too nice of a guy. Mike remained for 1 year. He knows how to smell suckers a mile away.

After he settled into his desk right behind me, I noticed some other very strange things. For one thing, this is the office portion of the building we're in. You know, desks, copiers, scanners, computers... that sort of thing. Mike never wore a shirt. As soon as he arrived, he'd take it off. It wasn't really my place to say anything, but no one else did, either. While sitting behind me, he'd talk to himself. One morning, I asked him, "Do you always talk to yourself or did you just forget to take your medications this morning?" That didn't sit well at all.

He had this rude knack of passing gas whenever the spirit moved him. "Mike, would you please go outside if you're going to do that?" I begged.

“C'mon, Dave, it's a natural thing to do. We all do it."

"Yes, Mike, but do you hear anyone else around here doing it?"

Right after the South-East Asia tsunami hit, Mike told me about how the transmission was failing in his vehicle. He prayed and prayed to Jesus to fix it for him, since he had no money. Lo and behold, miraculously, his transmission was fixed. Verily, I said unto him, "You mean, that's why those hundreds of thousands of people perished, because God was too busy fixing your car?"

"Yes. They weren't Christians." I had to stop there. What could I say to an answer like that? Mind you, his vehicles were given to him. He has this knack for wresting cars from people. Oh yes, computers, too.

The mother of one of the owners owns rental property. One day, he was going to serve one of the tenants a 7-day notice to evict after not paying the rent for months.

"C'mon, give them a break, Mon."

"Mike," the owner said. "If my mother does not collect the rent, she's got to pay the mortgage out of her own pocket." Mike still didn't get it. Here's a guy who knows only how to take. Not very giving for a Christian, is it?

After a year of this, the owners told him we were going to have to move. We were going to have to find a smaller office and there wouldn't be any room for him. They gave him a month. He took two. He found some other suckers, good Christians, to take him in. "Have I got a deal for you!" he told them. That lasted a month. He took two. God only knows where he is now, but I'm sure the Lord is still providing.

One thing we've often wondered about Mike. He has a real talent for taking advantage of others. How successful would he be today if he had only applied himself in a positive manner throughout the years? Would he have been able to keep up with his child support payments?

Why hasn't the Lord provided?


  1. Unbelievable!

    Well, not really, I have known several people like him through the years. They take and take, they push and push, and let the world provide for them.You hate to just turn them out, but we don't really do them any favors by allowing them to exploit us.

  2. Thanks for the comment and you're absolutely right about that, Jan. He spends more time in search of suckers than he does applying himself. He's a consummate pro at manipulation. The really funny thing, though, is that he's a very likable guy.

    Then, you get to know him.