It was the third time that broke his resolve. Walter Slonopas, 52, had complained on the job twice before about being assigned the number 666 on work documents. But when he noticed the dreaded number stamped on his W-2 form again last week, the devout Christian of 10 years felt he had no choice but to quit.
The number 666 is popularly interpreted from the Bible as the number of the devil.
In an interview with The Christian Post on Friday, the Clarksville, Tenn., man said he went to his employer, Contech Casting LLC, as he had done on two previous occasions to explain his faith-based position on the number and why he couldn't accept it. His supervisors couldn't arrive at an agreeable solution so Slonopas said he was forced to quit.
"I explained to them, I can't accept this number. I am a Christian. They said, we cannot change it because it is computer generated," said Slonopas.
"I asked them, are we working for the computer or is the computer working for us? I had nothing to complain about, I just asked them to change this number," he added.
Slonopas, who worked in the company's maintenance division, told The Tennessean in an earlier report that on his first day on the job in April 2011, he was supposed to be assigned the number 668 to clock in. The human resources department, however, gave him 666 instead. He complained about it and was assigned a new number.
Contech changed time clock systems in July 2011 and Slonopas was reassigned 666. He quit in frustration but the company apologized and he returned to work a few days later.
Bob LaCourciere, vice president of sales and marketing for the Revstone Corp., which owns Contech Casting, told The Tennessean that Slonopas' W-2 was labeled with 666 by the company that handles Contech's payroll and it simply referred to the order in which the forms were mailed out. He could not however, explain why 666 kept haunting Slonopas.
"I am completely at a loss for words," he said. LaCourciere also noted that the firm planned to mail out a new W-2, in a plain envelope and Slonopas was welcome to have his old job back.
Slonopas told CP that his wife checked their mail on Friday, and almost two weeks since his exit from Contech, he still hadn't received a new W-2. He said he has plans to not file his taxes until they issued him a new one.
"I have only heard that they are going to change it (W-2) but no one from the company has called me," said Slonopas. "I'm not going to start my tax return until I get a new form. For me, it feels like I'm accepting money from the devil," he added.
Slonopas explained that his approach to his Christian faith was heavily influenced by his mother and grandmother who became Christians while they were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps in Poland.
"When you come to a situation where nobody can help you, when the only choice you have is to believe in God and hope or get angry with God and have nothing," he said. He noted that when he came to the United States 20 years ago he had never seen so many churches before and he was happy. He said before he went looking for a job, he was told, "Never say to people you don't believe in God. Now, the company doesn't care whether you believe in God or not," he lamented.