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Sep 24 2011

You Want to Sell Me What?

Another reprint for a busy weekend.

When the doorbell rings late on a Saturday morning, it means one of two things. Unfortunately, it’s almost never one of the neighborhood kids who wants to make some money cutting my grass. No, instead it’s someone who wants me to buy their god.

Today’s was special. I was getting ready to run out and do some errands when I heard the familiar chime. Usually they send the well-dressed and stately (for the black churches) or the ultra-sincere but casual kiddies (for the white churches). Not this time. It was just some white guy my age with glasses and a stack of glossy half-page flyers.

He handed me one. I took it because I don’t really trust these people to recycle the leftovers. Then I looked at it. “Miracle for Muslims,” it said at the top, with the picture of an older black man at the bottom in a very western dress shirt.

“I’m from the X______ Church, and we’re hosting a lecture on–”

I set the flyer back on his stack. “Thank you. No.” Then I closed the door.

He didn’t seem too disappointed, just surprised by the flyer. Maybe I’m not the only one who hasn’t trusted him with them.

He wasn’t targeting me anyway. The people he really wanted to have buy his god are my neighbors from Somalia. They’re the folks who have kept our neighborhood from turning into a ghost town as the housing market collapsed, the ones who have opened new stores and restaurants and coffee shops in empty buildings, the ones who are bringing community back to our streets by gathering outside in groups just to talk to each other.

These are the boys who politely make room on the sidewalk, even when they’re walking in big groups. These are the girls who have figured out how to tuck their cell phones into their headscarves so they don’t have to hold them and how to make ankle-length skirts some of the sexiest clothing I’ve ever seen on a teenager. These are the kids who run and giggle like kids should.

This is who the door-to-door salesman wanted to lecture–lecture! They’ve gotten their hands on one guy who adopted the ways of his new home by converting, and you just know they’re trying to use him to “civilize” the rest of these strange new people. They want to make them less strange, less scary, less Muslim.

Miracle for Muslims? Yeah, right. The real miracle is how infrequently my doorbell rings now that I have new neighbors. Now that’s civilized.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Gordon

    I tear up the flyers. If you give it back they’ll just give it to someone else. At least their printing costs are money going back into the economy.

  2. 2
    Corkscrew

    Oh, I keep the flyers – got a stack on one of my bookshelves. Then, whenever anyone tells me that religion does not depend upon myths and miracles, I can hand them a wad as evidence that in general it does.

  3. 3
    Nentuaby

    Corkscrew:

    You ought to refer them to each other. “Why yes, I’d love a flier from the LDS. Here, have some vintage 2001 Southern Baptists and a LaRouchite political pamphlet in return!”

  4. 4
    'Tis Himself

    The real miracle is how infrequently my doorbell rings now that I have new neighbors. Now that’s civilized.

    So the Somali kids never ask to mow your lawn for 25 bucks?

  5. 5
    Robert B.

    Twenty-five bucks? When I was a kid it was 5-10. And I know there hasn’t been that much inflation since the 90′s.

  6. 6
    'Tis Himself

    It was $10 when I was in high school in the 1960s. That’s what everyone except my dad paid me to mow their lawns. Dad would mutter something about room and board.

  7. 7
    P Smith

    Except for a few morons…I mean, mormons, proselytizing has been a non-issue during my years living in Asia.

    I used to keep a “No Soliciting” sign back home in Canada. My view was, anyone knocking who wasn’t invited or not there for valid reasons was a trespasser (people such as meter readers for the gas company were welcome). I never did anything to such idiots because there might be legal repercussions, but I’m an advocate for legalized home defense against people who knowingly trespass – vegetable oil in summer, water in winter.

    Here’s something that happened to me about 12-14 years ago:

    I was at home mowing the lawn one summer Saturday, and see two people in shirts, ties and dark pants walking door to door carrying a briefcase. At most of the doors, I heard neighbors telling them “Get lost”, “**** you!” or worse. Jehovah’s witlesses were a common occurrence in my town.

    When they got to my yard, I said to them, “You’ve been hearing that all day, haven’t you?” On the side of the briefcase it read “Elections Canada”, something I had seen from a distance.

    They nodded their heads and rolled their eyes. I was already on the voters list so they didn’t stay long, but at least I gave them a break from people mistaking them for proselytizers.

    .

  8. 8
    Stephanie Zvan

    ‘Tis Himself, they don’t come to the door for that, no matter how shaggy I let the grass get. They wait until I’m out gardening and ask over the fence.

  9. 9
    Lauren Ipsum

    I used to let the JWs hand me their brochure, and while they were talking about it I would start critiquing the layout, typefaces, and stock photography (I’m a graphic designer). Eventually they’d get bored and leave. I was never rude, never raised my voice, and never engaged on the religious aspect. I thanked them for their time and wished them a nice day.

    I figure that five minutes was my public service, keeping them away from my neighbors.

  10. 10
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    We never get the proselytizers here.

    I love what one of my friends did in college, though. He always kept a stock of black candles, and when the Mormons or JW’s would come around, he would set them up in a pentagram and light them just before they got to his house. He would then invite them in and smirk when they would basically run from his door.

    Why, yes, I do have a bit of a mean streak when it comes to door-to-door salesmen. Why do you ask?

  11. 11
    Michael Swanson

    I don’t answer the door. I see no reason to ever answer an unbidden call at my door if I don’t feel like it. Same goes for the Boy Scouts. I heard one kid yelling from the porch, “I can see the TV! The Xbox is on! Someone’s home!” I just chuckled.

  12. 12
    Adamo

    I do answer the door. It’ll likely be a local (within 10 miles, out here in the country) school kid raising money for school by selling candy or subscriptions. Those I will buy, or if they have nothing I can use or give away, just make a small donation. Every kid. Every time. I did my share back in the day, usually for scouts or band. schools actually got proper support back then.

    The ones selling religion just get a polite “no thank you.” I won’t waste their time or mine. If they get pushy, I simply inform them that I already have a belief. I did tell one kid getting dragged around by his mother that I was sorry he had to go through that, however. They left in a hurry.

  13. 13
    Kevin nyc

    heh heh… I never had many people come to the door, but before the do-not-call list I used to get (as evryone did) so many calls for credit cards.

    I would say: “OH thank god you called! I am so broke! I really need another card because they won’t give me anymore on the old ones. I need this card as quickly as possible!”

    They would hang up.

    kd

  14. 14
    Noadi

    I’ve got the best and most cuddly adorable cure for proselytizers. My dog is a big hound and is very loud when she barks, all my friends know not to knock on my door because it makes her bark. She’s incredibly friendly, she doesn’t just wag her tail her entire rear half moves and she likes nothing better than for everyone to pet her, but her way of saying hello seems to scare some people.

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