baptist or atheist

I had to visit the personnel office to get a new ID card. The clerk behind the counter was wearing her blue uniform and mushroom hat; I think those were phased out twenty years ago. My dreams of being in the Air Force are not aging well. I’m almost surprised I can still watch them in color instead of black-and-white.

“My ID card’s about to expire,” I said, to get her attention. “I need a new one.”

She glanced up at me before going back to ‘keyboarding’ at her IBM 3660 work station. “Are you a Baptist?” she asked me.

“I’m sorry, what?”

She put her hands in her lap, looked up at me. “A Baptist. I can’t stand Baptists.”

“Uh, no?”

She frowned. “Aren’t you sure?”

I frowned right back at her. “I am. Sure. I’m sure I’m not a Baptist. How’s that relevant?”

She smiled. “I just like to get that out of the way right off the bat.” Rummaging through some paperwork, she snatched up a couple of forms and laid them out on the counter in front of me. “So, are you an atheist, then?”

That made me cock my head and continue to frown. “Are those my two choices? Baptist or atheist?”

“No, of course not,” she said with the tiniest chuckle of amusement, “but the first one will get you nowhere with me, while the other one will get you to home plate.”

*crickets chirping*

“Say something, sport, or close your mouth before you catch a fly.”

The only thing I could think of to say was, “This is the most unusual conversation I’ve ever had with anybody.”

“You don’t get around much, then, do you?”

I picked up a pen. “I’m just going to fill out these forms while I get my bearings.”

She turned back to her keyboard, started batting at the keys. “Fine with me. I’ll be here all day.”

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