Greta’s blog is being taken over today by Donna, because sometimes you just need to vent.
A woman named Jennifer dies and goes to heaven. She reaches the gates which, as promised in the biblical book of Revelation, are made of pearl. She had expected to see St. Peter sitting there with a giant book, but there is no one around. Instead, there is a telephone just outside the gates.
Jennifer picks up the phone. It rings automatically.
A recording answers. “You have reached the offices of Eternal Bliss. Please listen carefully, as our menu options have recently changed. Para espanol, marque tres. To hear our business hours, press 1 now. For driving directions, press 2. To hear the daily word of God, press 3. To hear the balance of good and bad on your account, press 4. For all other questions, press 5.
Jennifer would like to know about gaining admission, which was not among the listed options. And she hadn’t brought the laptop on this journey. She presses 5.
“You have reached the information desk. All of our representatives are currently assisting other customers. Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received. Please continue to hold. Your estimated wait time is five millennia. You can also visit us online at http://www.thisisheaven.org.”
Jennifer shrugs. She does have the time to wait—after all, what’s the alternative?–but she hadn’t planned to spend eternity on hold. She sits down on a cloud, holding the phone to her ear. Canned music begins to play. It’s not even very good canned music. She would have thought perhaps a heavenly chorus singing Handel’s “Messiah.” Every hundred years or so, the recorded voice interrupts the canned music. It says exactly what she would have expected it to say.
“Your call is very important to us. Please continue to hold.”
Sitting on the cloud, surrounded by no scenery and with nothing to do, is becoming boring. When she was still alive, Jennifer could—and would—have dusted the bedroom, iced a batch of cookies, put the laundry in the dryer and watered the houseplants while she waited on hold. Now, there is nothing but to wait. And wait.
At last, there is a voice on the other end of the line.
“Hi, this is Andrew. How may I help you?”
“I’d like to apply for admission.”
“Of course. I can help you with that. I’ll need your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, address, telephone, email address.”
Jennifer gives him everything but the address. “I don’t have a fixed address anymore. I’m dead,” she says.
“We can’t process your application without that information. I’ll just put you on hold for a decade while I look it up.”
“No, please!” Jennifer shouts. There is silence, and the canned music begins again.
Ten years later, give or take, Andrew is back on line. “We have to have an address or we can’t process you,” he says. “That’s the way the system is set up.”
Jennifer makes up an address, he plugs it in and announces she is cleared for entry. Someone will arrive shortly to open the gates.
“I have just one more question. What’s going on here? This isn’t the way entry to heaven was depicted back on earth,” Jennifer says.
“Oh, we had a consultant up from hell, and he showed us how much heaven could save by contracting with Eternal Bliss to run this operation. God was way overstaffed. After Eternal Bliss came in, he was able to lay off the heavenly chorus and 1,000 gate attendants. The savings have been out of this world, ha, ha.”
©2012 by Donna R. Engle