One of the occupational hazards of being a minister can be living next to the church. During the first year I lived here, people would call to be let in because they'd forgotten their keys or to 'borrow' anything from cornflour (I jest not) to my long-arm stapler because either there wasn't any or the church one was broken. My hoover got used when the church one died, and I'm sure I supplied a fair few loo rolls and Jeye-cloths (other brands are available).
After the building closed, I took on cutting the grass for the remainder of that season, and often had a wry smile to myself when someone commented that 'Jim (not his real name) has been down I see.' I also have a cupboard under the stairs full of hymnbooks, green and red, an OHP, a dozen collection bowls and all manner of weird objects that we must keep but no one else will store.
For the last two years I have acted as caretaker, letting in contractors to remove, disconnect or whatever, various services and items.
Now I act as security guard! Tonight I've turfed off a group of about 10 lads smoking in the alleyway between the manse and the church. Fortunately this is Dibley, and the threat of the police was enough to make them go away mumbling 'sorry, me duck' as they went. Obviously I got tough living in Manchester - either that or my Little Miss Bossy face is very, very, scary (certain people are banned from commenting on that!).
I can laugh about it, and I was satisfied that I was safe enough, but it's hardly in the job description is it?
Why didn't I phone the Police? Well it hardly justified a 999 call and the non-urgent response time round here is about an hour. What will I do next time? I guess it depends what time it is, whether or not it's light and how drunk they sound. Maybe I just need to go armed with a pile of scary tracts...?!
In the meantime, I'll continue praying that the building gets sold soon.