Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm on their list

I was sitting in the recliner around midday earlier this week, reading a book, when there was a knock on the door. It startled me, because someone knocks on the front door of my rural home maybe once every two months, if that.

I didn't bother running around to the side window to see who it was; I just opened the door.

"Hello - remember us?"

"Oh, God," I thought to myself.


Let me go back a few months. It was sometime in late summer or early fall. There was a knock on the door. The conversation went something like this:

"Hello. Are you troubled by all the strife in the world, by the negative ads in the election?"
"Um... I guess."
"What are your hopes for the world?
"Um... Peace and prosperity for everyone?"
"Well, all that is possible and will happen when God returns. Are you ready for that day?"
"Um... I guess?"

Jehovah's Witnesses. This went on for about five minutes, with me too polite to ask them to leave, and them clearly too used to "Um... I guess" responses to be thrown off by my mounting discomfort.


A sidenote... I have nothing against Jehovah's Witnesses, or any other religion that respects my beliefs as I respect theirs. It's just that, well, my beliefs are kind of undefined, and I've always felt that I've got better things to do with my time than ponder the issue. And I certainly am not going to delve into the topic with strangers standing on my doorstep.

And a second sidenote... In my childhood home, we had a "front" door that was never used, and in fact was sealed up with insulation year-round except for the little window that allowed quite a view into the heart of the house. Our "back" (or, more accurately, "side") door was the one we always used. As a kid, without fail, the only people who knocked on our front door were Jehovah's Witnesses. When they came knocking and I was home alone, I hid. Sometimes, I got caught in the living room with no exit other than to use the hallway where anyone looking in the front door window could see me. So, I used military special-ops maneuvers to dash and roll and cower behind furniture and door jambs as I made my way back to the safety of my bedroom. Eventually they would give up, stop knocking and leave.


Back to my visitors.

It was a father and son. I did not take photos, but I think I have come up with two good representations by digging into my pop culture memory. The father looked like actor James Cromwell. The son looked like an autistic kid from New York named Jason McElwain who was made famous a few years back when he got in a high school basketball game and scored a ton of 3-pointers (that was back when I had ESPN and they played that story over and over).

The father (image from Wikipedia):

The son (image from Today Show Web site):

The son took the lead in the discussion, but he stuttered and stammered quite a bit. His dad was providing backup and assistance as needed. I guess the son was a proselytizing trainee. Eventually they asked if I'd like some literature. I said sure. They gave it to me and left. I set the booklets on top of the TV. They sat there for a couple months because I felt guilty about throwing them away.

Then, in November, I came home from running errands during the day to find a couple Jehovah's Witnesses brochures tucked in my front door. I overcame my guilt in about a week that time, and they ended up in the trash, too.

Then, the visit earlier this week.

"Hello - remember us?"
(Pause) A drawn-out, hesitant "Yeah"
"Did you watch the inauguration last week?"
"Are you hopeful about the future and what the president will do?"
"Um... I guess"
"What do you hope for in the world?"
"Um... Peace and prosperity for all?"
"Have you thought about all the wonderful things that will happen when God returns?"
And so on.

They asked if they could leave some literature again. I took it.

Only this time, before they left, the father said, "Read it over. Maybe we can discuss it in the future."

Oh, no. Do they have a list? It seems I'm on it.

Home during the day? Check.
Does not display a gun or sic the dog on us when we arrive? Check.
Takes our brochures? Double check.

So I face a dilemma. 

They are not hostile or pushy. If they were, I'd have no trouble telling them to please leave and not come back. But they aren't, and it seems wrong to tell them that. I haven't and will not invite them in the house, but to tell them to stay off my property seems unduly harsh.

Maybe I'll have to resort to my childhood special-ops maneuvers next time they come, and hope they go away on their own.

In the meantime, their latest booklet was sitting next to the TV until the dog, while snuffling around, knocked it off and in back of the TV stand. It'll probably be there for months.

1 comment:

christina said...

they came after me in the skyway yesterday. i was walking to subway and reading a book and the guy said: "hey! how about something else to read!" and shoved a brochure at me.

i jumped like i'd been shocked, smiled and said "oh. no. thank you."

if he'd known the book i was reading, he'd have kept a wide berth.

they came to my house once when i was growing up and in the middle of their talk i said: "hey. wait. so you guys are both named elder?"

i thought i was pretty funny.