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35838 San Jose, Ca June 07 2006 Jehovah's Witness Ray Vaden goes door-to-door, block-to-block and map-to-map making contact with homes in the By Area, to talk with them, or at least leave a handbill, inviting all to a JW Convention at the Cow Palace. In an unprecedented campaign, Jehovah's Witnesses planned to knock on every single door in Northern California within two months, extending a personal invitation to their annual convention. The public is always welcome, adherents say, but since they believe the last days are near, they decided to step up the efforts so everyone has a chance to get saved...Len Vaughn-Lahman, San Jose Mercury News Due Date: 6/7/2006
More from Tony Hicks

A couple of gentlemen came to my door the other day and -- since I saw them through the kitchen window -- I was debating whether to open the door when my 8-year-old went ahead and did it for me.

Knowing I couldn't yell at her in front of them, I gave her my best "you are so going to suffer later" look and turned toward the porch, where two guys in their early 20s, wearing ties, stood smiling. I was holding the 2-year-old doing my best to look busy. I considered pinching her hard enough to make her cry, so they'd run away, but decided to hold that option out as a last resort.

The young men were there to talk religion, something I won't even do with people I consider close. It's not even up for debate. I won't do it.

A brave face

Though I had a look on my face that probably resembled that of a man whose hot radiator just exploded all over his groin, I still tried to be polite. I'm not sure why, as I don't show up at these guys' houses and start firing off questions at them in the middle of the day and make them feel uncomfortable. A man has the right to be rude to strangers on his own doorstep. In some states, you can even shoot someone with a cannon for standing on your porch.

They asked if I had a family, which must've been the standard opening question, unless they thought the two kids were props or something. Then they started asking about my religion. This is the point in the visit where I always wish I could ditch the politeness and start speaking Latin backward in my best Linda Blair voice.


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Instead I usually make something up about having a different religion than them, hoping they will immediately see there's no hope in converting me and maybe we should fight or something. But even that didn't work. Finally, as I started to lose patience, I told them I didn't have time for this, as my house was on fire and I needed to go get a hose or something.

Then they asked if there was a good time to come back, so we could talk about family.

Take a hint, already

At this point, I'm thinking "Seriously? You want to come back and continue this awful conversation?" I've known these two guys about 90 seconds, which is 89 seconds too long. Nothing against them -- I understand they have to do this -- but I find it rude to face personal questions from strangers; especially strangers who are half my age who presume to think they can counsel me on family. Granted, someone probably should, but not a couple kids who shave about as regularly as my toddler.

Here's the problem I have with people who go door-to-door to try and convert people to their religion. I understand they think they're saving the rest of us -- which by itself is condescending and fairly insulting -- but it should be enough that they're being saved in whatever way they see fit. If I came to the door dressed as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi or wearing a priest's clerical clothing, would they still give me their routine?

To some people, not having a religion is as much of a choice as having one. It's not like we're still trying to decide and the best campaign speech is going to win us over. We've already decided, we just don't hold meetings.

So I finally said coming back probably wasn't a good idea and wished them good luck. And meant it, because theirs isn't an easy task and most people aren't as polite as me. Then I told my 8-year-old the next time she answers the door without permission, I'm sending her to live with the people on the other side. Which, I suppose if you're religious, can take on an entirely different meaning.

Contact Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read his blog, "Insert Foot," at www.ibabuzz.com/insertfoot.