Monday, November 07, 2005

Proselytizing at the Pumps

Either I look like the worst of heathens, desperately needing redemption, or else I look like easy pickings. The problem is, I'm not sure which.

For some reason, proselytizing Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses seem to like me. Or feel sorry for me, or something. Over the past year, I have noticed that I am approached by these cultist evangelists with surprising and somewhat irritating frequency. So back during the summer -- on July 4th, to be exact -- I started keeping a little tally sheet in my car. And this morning on my way to work, I hit witness number 20. (Well, I didn't really hit him, but you know what I mean.) Yup, that's an average of five visits/approaches/assaults per month, more than one a week.

The first interesting thing about this trend is that it almost always happens when I am stopped at a gas station. Captive audience, and all that. More often than not I am dressed for work (business casual), but every now and then it even happens when I'm in jeans and a comfy golf or T-shirt.

What is somewhat more disturbing, and is really making me start to wonder, is that I seem to be the only one approached during these morning spiritual drive-bys. This morning was no different.

I was stopped to fill up my car (not new or expensive by any means, but fairly well kept and clean enough to lean on while manning the pump). I heard a polite and somewhat tentative, "Excuse me, sir?" When I looked up, a short, clean-shaven, non-descript fellow (possibly in his thirties, but I can't even recall much other than that) was walking over toward me with a pamphlet (the Watchtower) in one hand. Behind him sat a small car, parked at the edge of the paving away from all the gas pumps, with three more people sitting inside, all watching me.

I smiled ruefully and answered with a non-committal "Good morning" or some such. Pretty obvious what was coming, even if it wasn't a regular event in my life.

Now usually I will at the very least give these guys a few courtesy minutes to plead their case. Sometimes I will even enter into a little debate or exchange of ideas with them, explaining my own views of Christianity and how they differ from their own. This morning, however, I was already running late and so left the fellow with a pleasant "no, thank you," then turned around to put away the pump and head on to work. By the time I looked back he was already back in the car, which was pulling out of the parking lot. The guy across the pump from me grinned and shook his head knowingly, and I did the same.

This is what bothers me, though. There were at least eight or nine other patrons standing at the station this morning when I was approached. I spotted four white people (three men, one lady), two black ladies (one older, one probably college aged) and an elderly gentleman, and a truck with at least a couple of Hispanic fellows drinking soft drinks and chatting softly. It's not very often that a small young white guy will approach a large, unknown black man in today's society, especially when there are several other options. But as always seems to be the case, I was the one singled out to receive "the message." I have never once noticed another patron being similarly accosted by these Witnesses.

So I just have to wonder -- do I look like an easy mark? Or are they really that concerned with the state of my soul?


Anonymous Daffyd said...

If you just glare at them instead of smiling and talking, they'll leave you alone. I've tried it, it works!

11/07/2005 3:48 PM  

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4/14/2007 8:21 PM  

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