My Life as a Contract Killer

For the past fifteen years, when someone has wanted to know what I do for a living, and they really don’t need to know, I say I am a contract killer. I can be convincing.

The lady who cuts my hair—a stunning blonde named Katie—believed this for about five years. I travel a lot, and she likes to ask where I’ve been lately. Answers, all true, have been San Antonio, Austria, Vermont, Belgium, Atlanta, Canada, Thailand, Romania—anywhere and everywhere.

Katie was careful not to ask what I was doing in those places and I didn’t tell her. Sometimes it was a quick trip and other times I said, “I need to be gone for a while.” The less I disclosed about me, the better.

Over time, I got to know Katie pretty well. She told me about her life, a world I knew nothing about—clubs and parties and boyfriends, nightlife among the young and beautiful.

Eventually, one day, the jig was up. I had given a Bible as a gift to a couple I knew, and they started going to church. The husband got a job in Katie’s salon as a massage therapist. Somehow, one day, I became the topic of conversation and my cover was blown.

For over forty-five years, I have enjoyed a career as a Baptist minister. Yet I found nothing shuts down dialogue more quickly than for a stranger to make that discovery. They suddenly develop a different personality. They are on their best behavior. I will never get to know that person as a real human being. Everything they say will be sanitized by their He is a preacher filter. I hate that.

It’s really a bummer when the introducer adds, “Be careful what you say. He’s a pastor.” I hate that.

Certain topics are immediately off limits. There will be no honest revelations about spouses or children, no talk about sex, booze, cigars or certain movies. No tales about wild weekends. If the person slips us and cusses, they will say, “Pardon my French, pastor.” They assume they know how I vote. I hate that.

I am a real person and I like real people.

A few years ago, Katie asked me to officiate at her wedding. I was honored. By then, I knew the real Katie and she knew the real Marion. I like that.

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Humor, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “My Life as a Contract Killer

  1. Lindsey

    Part of the benefit of being a co-vocational minister has been the ability to introduce myself in my “other” profession. You are right about people not being real with preachers.

    • Lindsey, I have gone through an identity crisis in my retirement and for a year and a half preferred to introduce myself as a writer than as a minister. Nowadays, I’m okay with both. I am what I am.

  2. Bob Shrum

    My sentiments, too. I read a book while I was in seminary called “Don’t Call Me ‘Preacher.'” I love the vocation to my core, but I hate the stereotype—also to my core. Anytime I hear someone say to me “You don’t look like a preacher,” I tell them “Thanks for the compliment.” Bob

  3. Bob Shrum

    One more thought. You said that by the time you did Katie’s wedding she knew the real Marion. Do you really do contract killings? If so, give me a call.

  4. Al Jacobs

    Marion, I actually did spend a career as a contract killer – the US Army in 2 wars. Katie still available?? Al PS Ray Broome will be home 16-21 FEB and then will come home with me.

  5. Al, I’ll come over if I’m invited. I’d love to see you both.

  6. Jimmy Goudelock

    I learned years ago not to put “Rev” on checks or any official documents. It leaves a bad taste (not to mention distrust) in the mouths of many people. Just call me James or Jimmy!

  7. texsc

    A colleague in the long ago said, “It shouldn’t be too obvious or too surprising to someone who hears you are a preacher.” I get responses similar to yours all the time. In a writers group, a woman, who had only recently met me, apologized in advance for something she was going to read to the group. When she finished, I asked, “What was it, exactly, that you didn’t want me to hear?” This morning in the therapy pool at the Y, a fellow walker, whom I have not known long, said something to the effect of “Pardon my French,” and then used the f-word in telling a story. Most of these folks are younger than me, so I’m tempted to say, “I’ve known and used most of those words since before you were born.”

    • I’ve been surprised at the response this has gotten from pastors. But unless someone enjoys being thought of as weird and irrelevant, what else can we think?

  8. J. Earl

    Always a challenge to be ourselves. Surprising how few people I really know and who really know me. BTW, now that your cover is “blown” I will send you some good jokes! 🙂

  9. Send ’em on.

  10. Gail

    Marion, my new walking partner is a retired Presbyterian minister who now attends our church. She’s as down to earth as you are and a joy to be around (as you are). I don’t think I’ve ever felt the need to filter anything I say to Catherine or to you. I guess I’ve been lucky enough to know pastors (preachers, ministers, whatever “label” is applied) who are first and foremost themselves. I like that.

    • Thanks, Gail, and you are blessed. Some of this we brought on ourselves by being predictable, judgmental, and probably a dozen other less than sterling characteristics.

  11. Jeff Brown

    As to the post by the bi-vocational pastor, Lindsey, who says that he has the ability to introduce himself by his other profession: I, too, am a bi-vocational pastor. But my other professision is that of an attorney, which comes with its own set of negative stereotypes.

    So for me, it depends on the one I am talking to as to what I say my profession is. And sometimes, I just admit to both. In those situations, folks will often combine the stereotype for each of my jobs and ask the question, “How can you be both a pastor and an attorney?” For those reaasons. I just avoid the subject of what I do for a living as often as I can.

    • Sounds smart to me, Jeff. In fact, one of my complaints about being introduced as a preacher is that I am so much more. I am a husband, a Dad, a Grandparent, a traveler, a writer, a friend, a walker, a fisherman, etc. I am proud of all those, but I am not limited. I would be aggravated if I were a single woman and that’s how I was introduced.

  12. If you are in a bar and you tell people you’re a minister, it’s the opposite effect. People will tell you their life story, but will say “Excuse my language” after almost every sentence. Maybe it’s just the alcohol talking…

  13. Jim Davis

    I like you as a minister! But, I probably would like you as a contract killer! Most of all, I like you because you are my good friend…Marion Aldridge!

  14. hopeclark

    Excellent post, Marion. Your sense of humor slays me. We are all the sum of our parts, not one part. I recall one of my employees, once upon a time, talking about walking several miles on her farm and gathering pecans from their trees to sell that fall. It was a family task that all had to do. Yet she assumed I knew nothing about physical work and never got sweaty. I was a manager, one of the top 5 in the state, and she assumed I got there never getting my hands dirty. Heck, my degree is in agriculture, I live in the country, and nothing makes me happier than being in the chicken coop or the garden, dirt, dust and poop all over me.

    Enjoyed this week’s sermon, reverend.

  15. Clyde Waters

    As a volunteer chaplain to a police department for 33 years doing ride-alongs weekly I have heard pretty much all of it. Some officers apologize for their profanity and others do it deliberately and watch for the shock effect. When I don’t react like some preachers would they actually seem a little disappointed and then relieved that they can be themselves with me. I befriended a lot of cops along the way.

  16. Let it not go unsaid that YOU have quashed the pastor stereotype for many. Just by knowing you, we have broadened our narrow views. Bravo!

  17. Thanks, Kim. Quashing stereotypes always makes me happy!

  18. Hayden

    “Contract Killer” is a good name for one who “Quashes Stereotypes.”

  19. Randy Harrison

    Great one Marion. You hid your second profession from me quite well ! LOL Keep ’em coming.
    I have never felt uncomfortable around you. You are one of us regular folks !! Thanks for being you.

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