retiring man. His companion, Ross, was a Jehovah’s Witness with whom I
regularly debated matters of Earth and Heaven, and I greeted them both on this
Saturday morning like I had just got up, as was usually the case. They had the
advantage of surprise and not being hung over but I would argue that they
needed this advantage, and it was no secret that I was a ‘training’ subject for acolyte door-knockers. Ross, a one-time mechanic, even rewarded my agnostic zeal with some mechanical tips for servicing my old Peugeot 504.
As I shook hands with the new-chum, Roy, I noticed he was missing some fingers on his right hand. After a few jousts between whatever The Watchtower featured and my characteristic scepticism, conversation orbited the usual topic of honestly reconciling beliefs and evidence. I likened the logic to the method I would use to effectively correct a mechanical fault in the afore-mentioned Peugeot. Roy frowned self-consciously and, glancing at his mentor, told me he was from the sugar belt in Queensland. He wistfully recalled that he had not long ago bought an optioned-up Subaru WRX. This was a car of choice in the late 1990s.
He then told me of his anguish when he discovered it stolen in a country town where he thought he would get away with leaving the keys in the ignition. Roy realised the situation demanded that to realise his insurance pay-out, he simply needed to state that he had removed the keys when he left the car, but, conversely, to truthfully admit his trusting nature would void the insurance claim.
He said that this was a turning point in his life. I could see that Ross would have liked him to make a religious association at this point but Roy quietly said that this predicament provided a transformation in his life beyond the metaphysical.
Roy smiled that he had had many ups and downs in his life, and acknowledged that the choice he made that day had been a significant inconvenience in his material world. But, at the moment he quietly told this story, this nervous man had a bearing and serenity not evident in many of his fellow travellers in life, certainly the door-knockers. Comparisons are invidious but it would be easy to compare Roy favorably to the businessman who would justify gaining wealth in questionable ways, or to members of organisations who contrive excuses to cover up ill deeds, or, for that matter, to any moraliser or apologist who considers the truth anything other than what it is. Decades later, the cost of Roy’s decision would probably have less and less bearing on his financial bottom line, conversely to the strength its message had injected into Roy’s life and the lives of those with whom he shared this story.