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Newland: Make $22 Evaluating Mass in Rapid City

Defender of democracy Bob Newland pays his bills with work as a traveling secret shopper. He notes with amusement the appearance on his gig board an invitation to secret-shop the Catholic Church in Rapid City:

Mother of all that is holy!

In the 15 years that I have been evaluating the customer experience at a variety of retail locations, it never occurred to me that the Holy Roman Catholic Church would offer someone like me $22 to evaluate a holy mass. Of course, my process of conception, even of possibilities, is somewhat less than immaculate.

Today a job appeared on the Confero, Inc. job board: “This shop is for for either 9/16 ( if the church offers Saturday mass times) or Sunday 9/17. The allowed mass times are in guidelines for your assigned church. Attend the mass, make observations and donate $5 cash. You will be reimbursed for the $5 cash donation. Survey is easy and less than 15 questions.”

The assigned job is at Cathedral Of Our Lady Of Perpetual Help, Rapid City, SD, 57701. It pays $22, and the evaluator is expected to donate $5.00, which will be, as is it says in the description, reimbursed. A cynic could most likely be reimbursed for just saying (s)he donated $5.00.

I applied for the job. I can’t see any more detailed instructions until I am assigned the job. You too might be considered if you apply…. You will need to apply to be a shopper with Confero, a position I already hold, although I don’t recall ever performing an evaluation for Confero. Honestly, I doubt they will assign me, and if they do, I doubt if I will go. I do, however, want to see the more detailed instructions.

I also wouldn’t mind getting reimbursed for a $5 donation I did not make. Normally, reimbursable expenses require a receipt. Am I contemplating a mortal, or merely venial, sin? Would it be worse if I ate and drank of the host? Would my sins be worse than those committed daily by the political organization which hired Confero?

Incidentally, I searched for a similar job in Pierre and Sioux Falls, and did not find it. Either it was not offered, or someone snapped it up before I looked. However, this job was not on the job board until today, so maybe it’s endemic to Rapid City. WTF?

There is also the possibility that a competitor is offering this job, just to try to find out what it is that people see in the halls of darkness [Bob Newland, FB, 2023.09.13].

Secret evaluations of Catholic Mass, viewed through the same lens as consumer-experience surveys at Kum & Go—I wonder what could go theologically wrong there?


  1. grudznick 2023-09-15 06:54

    Corporate narcs always eat and drink of the host, and usually get in line for seconds.

  2. e platypus onion 2023-09-15 07:54

    If the masses are offered Kool Aid, don’t drink it and run like hell!

  3. jerry 2023-09-15 08:48

    Kool Aid for Catholics? Ya gotta be kidding. Always, always the wine man. Then, you get the hell outa there and head for the bar. No messing around chitty chatting with people, that is so Protestant.

  4. Phil 2023-09-15 10:27

    “The preacher went right on saying all I had to do was send just $20 to the Church of the Sacred Bleeding Heart of Jesus’ soul….” Kieth Richards, Mick Jagger.

  5. Bob Newland 2023-09-15 10:39

    Hmmm. It’s now 15 September. The evaluation is to be performed tomorrow or Sunday. I see that the Sturgis (SD) Catholic Church is also a subject. Rapid City Cathedral and the Sturgis Catholic Church are the only two church jobs listed within 200 miles of me. My application languishes in the “waiting for action” file. One wonders whether this assignment will get assigned to anyone.

  6. Bob Newland 2023-09-15 10:42

    I was driving home early Sunday morning through Bakersfield
    Listening to gospel music on the colored radio station
    And the preacher said, you know you always have the Lord by your side
    And I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran
    Twenty red lights in his honor
    Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord

    I had an arrangement to meet a girl, and I was kind of late
    And I thought by the time I got there she’d be off
    She’d be off with the nearest truck driver she could find
    Much to my surprise, there she was sittin’ in the corner
    A little bleary, worse for wear and tear
    Was a girl with far away eyes

    So if you’re down on your luck
    And you can’t harmonize
    Find a girl with far away eyes
    And if you’re downright disgusted
    And life ain’t worth a dime
    Get a girl with far away eyes

    Well the preacher kept right on saying that all I had to do was send
    Ten dollars to the church of the Sacred Bleeding Heart Of Jesus
    Located somewhere in Los Angeles, California
    And next week they’d say my prayer on the radio
    And all my dreams would come true
    So I did, the next week, I got a prayer with a girl
    Well, you know what kind of eyes she got, well I’ll tell ya

    So if you’re down on your luck
    I know you all sympathize
    Find a girl with far away eyes
    And if you’re downright disgusted
    And life ain’t worth a dime
    Get a girl with far away eyes

    So if you’re down on your luck
    I know you all sympathize
    Get a girl with far away eyes — Keith Richards, Mick Jagger

  7. larry kurtz 2023-09-15 10:52


  8. P. Aitch 2023-09-15 11:53

    I turned my back on the Catholic Church and Catholicism when I was sixteen. The drift had started a couple of years earlier when I refused the sacrament of Confirmation. My rejection of the Church and the Catholic faith had nothing to do with creeping atheism, but rather my growing discomfort with the increasingly visible hypocrisies I was seeing all around me. Put succinctly, by failing to live up to its own tenets and dogma, I felt the Church had let me down, and I had no desire to be confirmed into the folds of what I considered a corrupt institution. – Jim Morrison (singer for The Doors)

  9. Loren 2023-09-15 14:28

    Hasn’t anyone watched the Righteous Gemstones? That’s how you pack ’em in! :-)

  10. Arlo Blundt 2023-09-16 00:42

    Once a Catholic, always a Catholic. Catholics are everybody.

  11. Bob Newland 2023-09-16 10:57

    Well, it’s 9/16 and the catholic investigation jobs in Sturgis and Rapid are still available and my application is still sitting in purgatory.

  12. All Mammal 2023-09-16 11:23

    I’ll go, Bossman. My grandpa donated part of that cathedral in my grandma’s name. She was a super fly chick and volunteered a majority of her time there. My mother’s heathen kids were asked not to come back at the ribbon cutting because we ran amok with candles and were far too liberal with the holy water. What? We were blessing each other. The last time I attended Saturday Mass, it was with a Mexican boy I liked a decade ago. Foreigners seem to attend the Saturday services.

    I have a $5 spot for the dish.
    I’ll compare notes with you soon.

  13. Robbinsdale Radical 2023-09-16 23:37

    It should be mentioned that this particular congregation has been taking a hard right turn in recent years. Not surprising they are doing market research to figure out where people are going…

  14. Bob Newland 2023-09-17 22:54

    As of Sunday evening, 9/17, the job is still on the available list and my application for it still hangs in purgatory. Since 9/17 is the last date for which it is listed, one wonders why it was even posted.

    As it stands, this is the weirdest potential “mystery shop” opportunity I have ever seen, and it is likely I will never have an answer to the questions it raised.

Comments are closed.