I feel it went like this: A sleepy pair of H-ROCK youth volunteers brainlessly placed that sign at the lot’s entryway, early in the morning, as instructed. The sign indicated “You’re in H-ROCK’s hood, y’all”. The H-ROCKers were confident that at some point in recent years, H-ROCK’s big cheeses made a handshake deal with the elderly cheeses of Moose Lodge for use of their smoothly-paved and highly-underutilized parking. They had to. There’s just too much H-ROCKing going on across the street. An H-ROCK cannot survive on an H-ROCK lot alone. Looking at the dusty relic that was the grand, colonial Moose Lodge, and seeing the sparse Lincoln Continentals and Buick LeSabre’s parked in the spaces closest to the Moose entry, it just felt disrespectful. This plot of land once supported the hooves and wooden wheels of horses and carriages ridden by Pasadena dignitaries. Though forgotten by present-day passers-by, the Moose lot is meticulously maintained just the same. Now it pragmatically accepts vehicle overflow of a few confused stragglers drawn to an unpronounceable neighbor.
We entered the stream. We walked the block and a half in the same direction as the scattered, young families and Asian college students. We had no idea where the front door was, but it would be impossible to end up anywhere other than the gates of H-ROCK. As we turned the corner to the front of the building, it became apparent there was in fact no parking shortage, nor was there any traffic jam. This was indicated by a steady and spread-out flow of cars into a huge garage. The kind of flow you'd expect to see in the background of a car commercial with a mod parking garage as the backdrop. H-ROCK’s Public Signage Outreach Program had psyched us out. Oh well.
We get to the funnel of folks at the building's entry. I do well at this part. I have a marginally cool haircut, two pretty bold tattoos on my forearms, and a cute wife. All this paired with a decent shirt usually gets me through most church crowds with the absolute minimum of obligatory interaction. Tattoos mean: “Oh my, maybe he’s looking for some spiritual guidance”. Being well-dressed with a pretty girl means: “Eh, he’s probably got it figured out, and he’s not gay. I’m gonna get some coffee”.
H-ROCK does have more truly attentive greeters per square foyer foot than any other church I’ve attended, without a doubt. No matter which type of congregation, be it a church, a bar, a hotel, or a DMV, it’s just awkward guarding a door, any door. I don’t feel one way or the other about this part of the churchgoing experience.
It is perfectly fine to trade a name and a nicety as a cover charge at church. It is a small price to pay for entry to a place you didn’t help build, and that you have no commitment to. So I gladly say hello and consider that my rent. And with this, we got through the name-tagged turnstile of anxious H-ROCK greeters.
Next up: ENTER THE H.