My wife Chastity and I grew up in a little town that was almost totally run by a fundamentalist religious organization. The powers that be made sure everyone toed the line, all of the time. The town was not a fun place to live.
By design, there was very little to do in the town. Children went to school and adults mostly worked at no hope, dead end jobs. After school there were almost mandatory religious study groups for the children. For both children and adults, there were frequent church services. If someone didn’t attend almost every church service, they would be counseled. If the counseling didn’t result in much better church attendance, the person would be fired from their job and unable to find another job in town.
We were all assured that our reward would come in the next life, not our current life.
The schools in the town were pretty much a waste of time. All of the academic classes pretty much led back to the Bible. It was very religious, but almost useless as far as learning something that would lead to a good paying job. A job was not a concern of the school. Once again, our reward would come in the next life.
I was desperately searching for a way out of a forced march into poverty when I discovered the vocational classes offered in the local high school.
No matter how religious you are, you still need lights to read the Bible by, water to drink and plumbing. Thus, a few, much scorned, boys were allowed to train in things that might actually lead to a good paying job.
I arrived at just the right time. I was about to sign up for electric shop when the one garage in town landed a vehicle maintenance contract for several local post offices. One of the needs was for a guy who could troubleshoot the electronic systems that control the engines on modern cars or trucks.
If you wanted to get the electronics training, you had to take a test. I took the test and managed to get the highest score. I was then called in and browbeaten by the people who ran the town because, “Jake, you are wasting your time with this electronics stuff. With your ability, you could study to be a preacher.”
There were already enough people (way too many if you ask me) saving souls, so I decided to save the Postal Service truck engines instead.
I spent mornings at school and then afternoons working at the garage where they fixed the Postal Service trucks. I would have worked for minimum wage to learn a trade, but the contract specified pay rates and, even at half time, I was making more money than many of the adults in town. With the high wages as an incentive, I not only learned what I was required to about the truck electronic systems, but also as much more as I could so that I might earn even higher wages in the future. The only way to earn higher wages was to find a job somewhere else, another town, and that was all right with me.
It was well that I was training myself and earning high wages. My father was an alcoholic and abused both my mother and me. My mother took it until she saw that I could support myself and then she ran off with some guy passing through town. I didn’t blame her; it was pretty much a matter of survival for her.
When my mother left, my father decided it was somehow my fault. He decided that he would beat the crap out of me to make sure I stayed in line. I had figured that the old man would try to take his rage out on me. I borrowed a baseball bat from a buddy and baseball bat and Jake proved to be more than a match for the old man.
After I beat him, for a change, the old man, ‘threw me out of the house.’ Actually, the old man was behind in the rent and the landlord threw him out. I could make the rent payments because I was working, so I stayed, and the old man went. Rewards in the next life are fine for those who want that sort of thing. However, even religious landlords tend to want cash, now.
If the holy roller life was bad for the boys in town, it was worse for the girls. The girls had to wear dresses to school, because it was, ‘God’s will!’ When it got cold, they would wear blue jeans under the dresses and that was only until they got to school and then they went into a girl’s bathroom and removed the jeans because they were not permitted to wear that sort of thing unless it was necessary to keep them from freezing to death.