Last night I was walking Cody through our neighbourhood. It was dusk and the holiday lights were blinking on the houses. It was cold and crisp - not so cold as to be bone-chilling, but just enough to say it's winter.
We passed a few other folks walking their dogs, a runner or two, some people packing a car. But mostly the sidewalks were quiet and empty.
I noticed a man across the street who looked out of place. He was wearing a dark suit without a winter jacket, and carrying a book. A moment later, I saw another man on my side of the street dressed the same way, also carrying a book. I knew he was going to approach me and I knew what he wanted.
As he stepped towards me, I caught a glimpse of a name tag, which included the words "Jesus Christ".
"Excuse me, have you ever had the opportunity to speak with a missionary?"
I never broke stride. "No thank you, I have no interest in that, thank you very much."
He tried again. I knew he would. They always do. "Do you know anyone else who does?" he called, now speaking to my back.
"No I don't, have a nice day," I said to the air in front of me.
"Have a nice day, god bless you," he called.
I hate proselytizing of any type. I just hate it.
In New York, when I was younger and Jehovah's Witnesses would approach me, it infuriated me. Now that I've mellowed generally, it doesn't get under my skin so intensely, but it still really bothers me.
If that man had been selling magazine subscriptions, I would have also said "no thank you" and kept walking, but it wouldn't have bothered me at all. If he had been collecting for a charity, I would have listened and probably donated. And if he had been canvassing for a political group, I would have stopped and listened, and maybe chatted. But he was selling religion, so I had to mentally bite my lip to refrain from snarling at him.
The whole idea of trying to change someone's religion, or of trying to introduce a religion to someone who wasn't seeking it on her own, irritates me no end. The notion of selling religion door-to-door is, shall we say, extremely distasteful to me. Spirituality seems very personal to me, and proselytizing feels like an invasion of my privacy.
I used to think all nonreligious people felt this way, but I've realized that they don't necessarily. Why do these people bug me so much? I don't even know.