Friday, March 15, 2019

Enemies: Temple Recorder Edition

It takes a special kind of jerk to make enemies at the temple. Rest assured, I am just that type of special jerk.

Late in 2017, I was given the task of scheduling our ward's youth baptism trips for the following year. By the time it had come to me, we were already past the deadline, and then I had to wait longer while I got date recommendations from the Young Men and Young Women presidents. Finally, I called the temple. I was aware that we would have slim pickings, being so late, but I was still a little miffed that EVERY Saturday we were available, the only appointment they had open was 7 a.m. We live two and a half hours from our temple, so 7 a.m. appointments require us to meet at the church at 3:30. I said, "Can I just make a suggestion for in the future that later times be reserved for units with longer distances to travel?" I thought I said this very calmly and reasonably, like, "Here's a fun idea!" instead of "You idiots should have thought of this!" The temple worker with whom I was speaking did not take my suggestion well. Eventually, we were able to find one Saturday that had a 10 appointment. I took it. She tried to get me to sign up for a second appointment, but I told her there wasn't one that worked for us, which also seemed to frustrate her. She sent me a confirmation e-mail, with the correct date and time for the one appointment time.

Several months later, when it was just a few days before the trip, I had the idea to call the temple and verify our appointment date and time. Sort of pointless, given that I had a confirmation e-mail that had everything correct, right? I called the temple and spoke to the same temple worker. I pretended like I didn't know we'd talked before, and it seemed like the tension in her voice relaxed when she realized we weren't going to start from where we'd left off last time. I said, "I just want to confirm that we'll be there this Saturday at 10." She said, "You're scheduled for 8 o'clock." I said, "No, we're not. Our appointment is for 10." She said, "We don't have any openings at 10, though." I said, "I have a confirmation letter from you that I'm looking at right now that says 10." She said, "That's not possible because I send those letters out." (!?!?!?!?!) I said, "I don't suppose it would do any good to send this e-mail back to you so you can see it?" She said, "No, because we don't have any room at 10."

Now, I can see how some might think that I hung up on her. Here's what happened: I took a breath, thought about arguing, decided people who argue with temple workers don't get into heaven, said--as kindly as possible--, "Okay, thanks," and hung up the phone. I would argue that I didn't "hang up on her," I just ended the call quickly, and if she wasn't expecting such a quick ending, it's possible she was still on the call when I was not.

I got to go to church and tell everyone, "Just kidding, our appointment is really for 8. I hope you like starting your Saturdays at 4:30!"

There is so much more to this story.

We went to the temple for our appointment. We were double-booked with another unit. And a family on vacation came in. They both went ahead of us. Then, when we went in to do our ordinances, they had already been done by those other groups. We brought family file names, and all of a sudden, no one in our group is doing ordinances for their own ancestors, and it's too late to fix it because the other groups have already finished.

We came back home, and I spent several weeks contemplating writing a letter to the temple. I thought, "What kind of jerk writes a letter to complain about the temple?" So after a long cooling-off period, I wrote as nice of a letter as I could. I mentioned what had happened. I recognized that some might say, "What's the big deal?; the work got done," but that I think there's a reason we are encouraged to bring family file names with us and not just submit them. I mentioned my son was going to be baptized for a relative that shares his name, and instead, he was baptized for some rando Portuguese dude (paraphrasing, here). I recognized that large batches would need to get divided, but we intentionally only brought five names for each of my kids. I recognized that only a jerk would complain about volunteer temple workers, so I was instead writing with a suggestion on how to ensure this doesn't happen again. I said something like, "What I have seen work well in other temples is using a sticky note and paper clip."

The temple presidency wrote back. They thanked us for our patronage and complimented my son on his efforts.

Then the end of 2018 came, and I was given the task of scheduling our ward's appointments for the following year.

I'll be honest: I avoided the assignment for a long time. My being late this time was no one's fault but mine. Finally, I called the temple. I spoke to the same temple worker. I again pretended I didn't recognize this. (How long will that trick work? Probably never, but I'll keep using it.) This time, instead of trying to get Saturday appointments, I went for two Fridays that our local schools will be closed. This made it so we could get reasonable times for both appointments. She said she would send me a confirmation e-mail. I bit my tongue. The call ended.

I never got a confirmation e-mail.

I did not want to call again, but I also had absolutely no idea if we had an appointment and I figured it would be better to find out before driving 150 miles. So I called. The person to whom I needed to speak was at lunch. I left a message, detailing why I was calling. She returned my call while I was teaching. She did not leave a message. I have not tried again yet.

But wait--there's more!

Last month, my wife and I went to the temple to perform some ordinances. We finished a small set of one type and then went to help a bit with a different type. When we were finished and preparing to leave, we stopped by the recorder's desk to get our family file names back. The four names my wife did were there. The four names I did had disappeared. We looked in all possible places. The recorder had me go back to the ordinance worker to see if they were still in his pocket. They were nowhere. But I did find a bunch of names I submitted two years ago, that haven't been done. So I casually took those back; better to do them slowly ourselves than have then never get done, or get lost.

We came back home. I logged in to my FamilySearch account to see if the work was recorded for the names I brought. I knew I had four names. However, since two of the names had finished with all the ordinances I had reserved, they had disappeared from my reserved list. Without knowing who they were, I couldn't check.

Blessedly, I had a work-around. Since we returned from China, my computer doesn't print to our wireless printer. I have to save documents and e-mail them to my wife, who prints them from her computer. So on my computer, I had a PDF of the names I had printed last fall. So I could look up their record numbers, log in to my FamilySearch account, look up each individual, and see if the work had been recorded.

I can't help but feel that this is the opposite of a streamlined process.

Good news: all four of my names had their work recorded. What's more: two of them had the next ordinance done the following week. But this gave me an opportunity to find out that one of the names for whom my wife did work didn't have her baptism recorded last fall. So now, when we go to the temple next week, I get to go to the baptistry and ask them to record it.

I am hoping there's a reason for all this, like maybe I'm going to be the temple recorder when our town gets a temple, and now I have extra knowledge of how important proper recording is. It's either that, or else I'm being punished for being a terrible person. Either reason would produce these same results.

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