7 Jul


One of the most basic differences between Eastern religious theology and Fundamentalist Christian theology can be distilled down to two words, β€œexperience” versus β€œknowledge.” When I taught a Bible study or preached a sermon, it was always based on knowledge, gained through study of the word of God, and in some cases using experience as an example of how the Bible’s veracity was confirmed through the event described in the story.

When I reluctantly left the full time ministry in 1980, my head was filled with knowledge gained from studying the Bible in English, Greek, and Hebrew, and then using hermeneutics to exegete the correct interpretation of the Scriptures. I carefully parsed the meaning of each verse as I studiously interpreted each book of the Bible, to understand the mind of God, within the limitations that are placed on human beings. As a preacher and teacher, it was my job to communicate the truth that I learned from hours of study preparing sermons and teachings each week.

I soon found out that my academic period of formal education, that led me to the ivory tower known as the ministry, was over, as I was thrust back into the world from which I came. I had to earn a living to support my family, so I took whatever job was available. It was here that I had experiences where I observed real life stories unfold before my very eyes that became experiences that shaped me, as I continued to pursue the direction that I believed God wanted me to move in.

Safety-Kleen was a company that I worked for beginning in January 1981. Actually it was the 6th company that I worked for in the course of 7 months, while I moved and travelled with my wife and 3-4 children nearly 6,000 miles, while moving from L.A. to Oregon, and then Oregon to El Paso, and finally El Paso back to L.A., along with hitch hiking 1000 miles, and riding the bus for another 1000 miles. It was a confusing time because I was a completely sold-out, born-again, Pentecostal Christian who believed that it was possible to know God’s will and be in direct communication with the deity about every life decision.

I don’t want to dwell on that confusion or elaborate on it at this time, because I just want to concentrate on my career with Safety-KleenΒ at this timeΒ ( When I was hired, it was one of those things that can only be attributed to synchronicity or God’s will. I heard about the job opening through a friend, who had a friend that was quitting his job with Safety-Kleen. By the time that I applied, the job had appeared in the newspaper want ads and interviews were taking place. Out of 10 applicants that made it past the screening process, I was told that I was on the bottom of the list, because I was over qualified for the job, which meant that I would quit in a few weeks or months. However, since it required a near perfect driving record and 8 of the applicants had bad driving records, or some other issues, I became 1 of 2 applicants for 2 positions. One of the sales reps was being promoted to an assistant manager’s position at the same time that my friend’s friend quit. The 2 territories with openings were East Los Angeles and Downtown through South Central Los Angeles.

The manager who hired both of us flipped a coin for first choice of the 2 territories. The other guy won and he chose East L.A., which was the territory of the guy who quit. Downtown through South Central was considered to be the worst territory in the branch, because it was a low dollar area and had a high crime rate. However, this occupation was so different from being a minister that I wouldn’t even know the difference until I learned the job. So I resigned myself to accepting these new circumstances. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was learning another aspect of Eastern theology that differed from conservative Fundamentalist Christian theology.

Assembly of God, Baptist, Foursquare, Nazarene, and the umpteen other Fundamentalist Christian denominations that exist, teach a linear view of reality. That is to say they think in terms of point β€œA” to point β€œB,” the beginning to the end, 1, 2, 3, 4,…, and every other logical example. While religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, and Eastern Oriental thought in general, teach a concentric view of reality.

A concentric view of life allows for change, growth and expansion that embraces new ideas, philosophy, theology, and lifestyles that may be anathema to the linear view, without abandoning previously held beliefs. The best way to imagine growth like this is to look at the rings of a tree. Each year or season, a new ring is formed around the old one, for the entire life of the tree. The age of the tree is determined by the number of rings. It is still the same tree from the 1st Β ring to the 100th ring. In the same way I am still the same person that I was when I was at whatever time period someone knew me, yet at the same time I am so much different.

Working for Safety-Kleen was part of the change that was taking place in my life. For 9 years I lived in Los Angeles, but other than occasional excursions to other areas I stayed in my corner of Northeast Los Angeles. Now with Safety-Kleen I was eventually going into every nook and cranny of every corner of Los Angeles, from East L.A. to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Because of my award winning sales performance I was given the entire Los Angeles area as my territory to do with as I pleased, until I requested a transfer to Oregon. However, that is another story, and you can read about how it eventually turned out in β€œThe Trailer Of Wrath.”

The president of Safety-Kleen Corp. at the time that I worked for it was Donald Brinkman, who, like all CEOs, was enthusiastic about his product. He reminded me of some of the ministers that I had encountered while I was sold out for Christ. So I began to realize that I was a minister for the gospel of Donald Brinkman. I was a good one. In 1983 I became the best. Out of 800 sales reps in the USA, I was #1 for placing circulating parts washers. I won an all-expenses trip to Hawaii with my wife. Actually it was the second year in a row that I won it, but I turned it down the previous year to move to Oregon. I was a loose cannon wherever I was. At least now I understand that, through experience and concentric thinking.

One Response to “Safety-Kleen”

  1. Jerry Richburg October 24, 2016 at 1:31 PM #

    It is a great story, during these same years I worked for Safety Kleen and also had a great time. This must be John Weisner, I was the man that chased u all year.

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