When I lived in Philadelphia, one of the miseries of taking the subway was the abusive street preachers who’d board and start haranguing everyone. There was one woman I remember vividly who’d wear a sandwich board covered with an incoherent salad of bible verses and condemnation and fire up with a well-practiced gospel singers vocal chords and tell us all about how we were going to burn in a lake of fire. Philly residents are generally blunt and outspoken, but no sir, we all just shut up, shoved our faces in the Daily News sports page, and hoped no one would say a word, because they would start gabbling and howling even louder if you did. I hated it. I’m kind of an outspoken atheist myself, but I knew that protesting would be futile, and would just alienate the other riders because no one wanted to hear any of this crap at 7am, before the start of a long day, or at 5pm, when we all just wanted to get home.
They have a different response in Australia. An evangelical loudmouth (and an American asshole, too–how embarrassing) boarded a Sydney subway train and started witnessing to the other passengers. He seems a bit nonplussed because no one is respecting his piety.
“Yeah, shut up,” another passenger chimes in. Phillip struggles along for a bit longer, as the pissed off legends who frequent Sydney Trains turn around, block their ears, and ignore everything he’s saying.
“Mate, if you ask for our time, we have the right to say no, we’re not giving it to you,” one passenger points out.
Why are you so triggered, my friend?Phillip asks.
Whoa. That’s a tell-tale phrase only a right-winger would use.
“Why won’t you just shut up?” the passenger responds. “Speak quietly to someone who wants to listen.”
At this point, the train reaches a station, and almost everyone seizes the opportunity to get as far as possible away from this guy. He keeps trying to yell things, but it’s a bit hard to hear him as people shoulder through him to get to the Opal gates.
I’m here because I care about you — one more stop and I’m leaving!he pleads, trying to get a single person to hear him.
“Oh, thank god,” someone responds.
I care about you,he tries again.
“Apparently not about our opinions, because we’d like you to shut up.”
“No one wants to hear it, bro,” another passenger adds.
I’ve been in prisons in El Salvador, I’ve been in the slums of India, I’ve –
“Nobody cares, okay?” the first angry passenger explodes. “I don’t care if you love me. I don’t know you!” Half the carriage is laughing at this stage, and cheering every time someone gets the preacher to shut up.
“You’re the selfish one because you won’t shut up! Can you not see that? You’re forcing your opinion on everyone in this train. We are asking you to shut the fuck up. And do you? No! How selfish is that?”
At this stage, the guy finally, finally shuts up. Salvation is close. Heaven, in the form of a quiet peak hour train carriage, looms. And then another passenger begins to speak.Well, let me give my testimony,he says.I used to be a Buddhist, for 27 years of my life, but I became a Christian, um,
“Oh no,” someone sighs. The guy closest to the ex-Buddhist shakes his head and puts his headphones on. “Nobody asked,” someone else groans. “Shut up, you sound like such a dickhead.”
I learned a few things from that story.
It’s worth it to make evangelicals squirm when they inflict their hokey religion on the public.
They’ll still keep trying to talk, so you won’t get immediate relief, but maybe they’ll eventually learn appropriate behavior.
Australians are like Philadelphians, only more so.