Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Things you find only in Trenton,
part 3

I'm a Johnny-Come-Lately, which means I have the ability to compare and contrast happenings in Trenton with what goes on in other places I have lived. It's handy to have the ability to reference this place against other places, because it gives me confidence when I say that the guy who is squealing around my neighborhood right freakin' now in an old boxy caprice that is -- I'm sure -- not registered or insured, would not be able to get away with that behavior in very many other places in the world, except for maybe Mogadishu. But living here for even a few short years also gives me an innate knowing that said knucklehead burning rubber in my neighborhood right now will probably crash into at least 3 cars tonight, or else very soon, and afterward, will claim to the police that his car was stolen and he is not responsible for the destruction. Knowing this sort of thing gives me street cred with my out-of-town friends and family, and isn't everyone just ga-ga for street cred? We can't bring the Michele Lorie cheesecakes to the family gatherings anymore, but I can wow 'em with my street cred.

Another local phenomenon in Trenton is the sheer number of God's soldiers roaming the streets, knocking on doors, trying to recruit more members. I find this particularly distressing, but my distress, ultimately, my own fault. I've always had the sort of face that society's oddballs -- yes, Jehovah's Witnesses DO fall into the "society's oddballs" category -- find approachable, comforting, even. Damn my genes! I might be thinking "Stay the hell away" (or, probably, worse), but my friendly face beckons. And I have a terrible time making myself say "stay the hell away" aloud. It's just not done in polite society. Because of my inability to say, "sorry, not interested," much less, "beat it," I wind up smiling politely at the religious zealots and often, vacuum peddlers, too. But I do doubt the sincerity of the vacuum peddlers: this ain't the 1950s, you know?

Last fall, two Witnesses came by my house every single day for two weeks straight, simply because I didn't force them off my porch the first time I saw them rounding the corner. A friend told me that I needed to really become familiar with scripture so I could argue on their terms; it was the only way. Another friend, who was besieged by Witnesses, told me he finally invited them in to talk, as long as they'd watch a quick movie with him, afterward. They agreed, and when they finished speaking, he popped in a porno. They left in a hurry. A neighbor told me they were like a cockroach infestation -- that was the only way to view them -- and I must get aggressive to remove them from my life.

I appreciated all of the advice, but none of it really fit my personality. Part of my problem is that I ultimately have too much faith in people, and I wind up hoping they will decide on their own to do the right thing. In the case of the Jehovah's, I believed they'd eventually come to realize the error of their ways, and would just stop bugging me. I was wrong, and I hated it. HATED it. But I did develop my own technique. Perhaps not as satisfying as watching their faces as they "witnessed" some porno, or telling them to beat it, but I think it worked. They'd ring the doorbell, I'd come running, expecting to see my UPS guy, and instead, find two brainwashed zealots on my porch; they knew I was on the other side of the door; and I'd watch them know. This horrible game went on for DAYS, because I can only assume they thought maybe, they were so close to convincing me to join their ranks; me, the woman who flat-out refused to speak with them, after our first encounter; me, the woman who watched them standing on my porch, expecting me to answer the door. Seemed like a stupid sales move, to me. I just did not want to engage with a Jehovah's Witness, ever again, as I found their very reason for existence to be insulting to the rest of humanity, and their tactics 100%, wholly unacceptable.

Right around the same time, we were visited by some very combative newspaper sales twerps, a racist (a term that gets thrown around so much by LA Parker that it's almost meaningless, but LA, this was a real, bonafide bigot) alarm salesman; Elder Jeb and Elder Orrin, the two Mormons living down the street; and the friggin' the vacuum people came back -- at the very moment I was walking out the door with two cats, who were very literally freaking out in their carriers, on the way to the vet; the vacuum duo volunteered to clean my floors -- very tempting considering the amount of fur and feline bodily fluids that had just been strewn about. This onslaught of door-to-door sales left me perplexed: were all of these people targeting me, or did they really think they'd make the sale/conversion in this neighborhood? The lack of peace and quiet was unnerving, and Glen felt badly for me, so the next time the Jehovah's Witnesses came by, he spoke with them. It didn't do much good. As soon as I had a minute, I made this sign for our door. Click on it to enlarge, and feel free to print it out for your own use. Contact me (contact info is on the right) if you need a higher resolution image. I'm glad to help.
The sign doesn't always work. Many zealots are not able or willing to read. Others will ring first and run away once they see the sign, which leaves me with mixed feelings: I've usually gotten up to answer the door -- a drag, but am thrilled to not have to talk to the Jehovah.

Glen and I had dinner with a fellow Trenton resident last night and we talked at great length about a potential project, and the business model for said project. With every venture, there ought to be a cost analysis to see if the effort is worthwhile. Talking about the project's merit made me think about the Jehovah's Witnesses marching mindlessly through my ward. Do they have someone in a business office looking at the return for their work? That Watchtower magazine is printed nicely, so maybe there are business people building spreadsheets and giving PowerPoint presentations, somewhere in that organization? But, the return-for-the-effort HAS to hover solidly around zero percent for Jehovah's foot soldiers out to make conversions, so why they don't dream up some other way to get themselves into heaven? Ultimately, the door-to-door annoyance strategy seems like a lost cause to me, since, according to the Jehovah's, only 144,000 people can go heaven, anyway. And if that's the case, I just wish they'd abandon their conversion campaign, and maybe DO something tangible for the community. Imagine if all of those Jehovah's were reprogrammed to pick up litter. Or tutor children. Or keep a watch on the community, to lower crime. Or fix up an old house. Their public image would improve drastically.

I can say for myself that I've reached a point in my life where I am very okay with where I am, and where I'm going after I die; and that's my business anyway. I'm sure that most people around here, like me, have that stuff figured out for themselves, too, so it wouldn't hurt the Jehovah's Witnesses to go in a different direction. Please?

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