Our team’s leadership members were in town this week for their offsite. We had colleagues come in from our San Francisco, Amsterdam, and London offices. It certainly made for a more lively and boisterous ambiance in an office that is usually pretty quiet and empty given that people work from home frequently, especially on tail-ends of the week, and that people are also traveling for customer and prospect visits.
One of my SF colleagues who I am friendly with asked if he would be expecting to see me back in San Francisco during Thanksgiving week next week, or during the Christmas period. I told him that Chris and I are planning to be in Portugal next week, and that for Christmas, we’ll be with his family in Melbourne. He gave me a puzzled look. “Wait, so you’re not coming home for either holiday?”
Here we go. Without even realizing it, it was being implied I was a crappy daughter.
“Oh, maybe I never told you,” I responded. “My mom’s a Jehovah’s Witness, so she doesn’t celebrate any holidays. This just means that these dates don’t mean anything to her, so it’s fine if I see her at other times of the year. I come back three to four times a year anyway, so it’s not a big deal to her or my dad.”
Another colleague overheard the “Jehovah’s Witness” mention and looked even more confused, borderline terrified. “Wait, Yvonne, are you a Jehovah’s Witness?” she asked, seemingly scared to hear the answer.
I laughed. “No, do I look dumb enough to belong to a cult?”
Burn. My colleague who asked gasped a bit, and she politely said that she didn’t think that I would be a JW, but would genuinely be shocked if I were. My other SF colleague looked shocked as the words came out of my mouth.
“You don’t have to be polite around me about this,” I responded. “I believe it’s a cult. I’ve told my mom I think the same thing, so it’s out in the open.”
Politics seem to come up at work more often than religion, but granted that I work in a blue state (and an even bluer city) and our HQ is in a blue state (in an even bluer city than New York City!), it really is just another way of saying that we spend a good amount of time hating on Trump. But religion rarely if ever comes up in a group setting. So in this case when it did, it was actually really comical to see how colleagues responded to my general thoughts around my mom’s “religion.” I’m happy to be open about it.