The sign was there on the front door when I moved into the house.
Since purchasing my home I have put a lot of work into improving upon many of the dreadful design choices made by the previous owners. I have ripped up most of the awful carpeting they put down. I’ve painted, re-wired, reinforced and trimmed wherever I could in an effort to make the place more my own.
Yet, I’ve left the sign. I like it right where it is.
Measuring about a eight inches long, the sign sits at the lower edge of eye level above the door knob. It is aligned with the right side of the door just below the spot where a visitor of average height would be most likely to knock. Sporting gold letters on a black background, it’s pretty hard to miss.
I guess it’s true what they say: “No one reads anymore.”
Every few days, someone ignores the sign.
“Can I mow your lawn?” — No.
“We’d like to install a new security system.” — No.
“Would you like to buy some magazines to support my mission trip? — No!
They traipse up to my porch, ignore the sign and try to sell me goods and services which I am perfectly capable of procuring on my own. Typically, I allow them to get maybe three sentences into their pitch before I send them on their way. I freely admit that I am sometimes a tad brusque in my dismissal.
The truth is that I would prefer to be more welcoming toward strangers. In fact, one of the tenets of my spiritual path is hospitality toward visitors.
Celtic tradition suggests that a visitor, who arrives in good faith, should be welcomed into the home and provided with food, drink and possibly, even a place to sleep for the night. While sheltering under the protection and hospitality of the host, the guest is expected to provide entertainment (usually in the form of music or storytelling) and must observe the rules and observances of the house.
It is my opinion however, that anyone standing on my porch trying to sell me something, has not shown good faith and has already broken a very clearly posted rule.
“I’m not interested, thank you very much, now go away!”
And I can certainly turn the RUDE up several notches if pressed, but it seldom comes to that. Most people manage to take the hint.
And then there are the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Their timing is uncanny. If you isolated the one Saturday morning in any given month when I was rushing to get ready for work or in the middle of some time sensitive project, that is the morning you would find them standing on my porch. I sometimes speculate about the infernal, time sucking clockwork that guides their visits to my home.
The morning quiet is broken by the sound of knuckles, gently but insistently rapping the glass directly above the NO SOLICITING sign.
I peek out the door and there they stand.
“Always two there are. No more, no less. A Master and an apprentice.”
In this case the “master” is always a rather jovial old fellow in a suit, while the identity of the “apprentice” seems to rotate on a schedule that I haven’t quite worked out yet. Sometimes it’s a freckle-faced little girl. The following month it may be an older woman or a young African-American gentlemen.
The visit typically goes like this:
The older fellow will greet me by name and enquire after my health or some other perfunctory bit of small-talk. On cue he will be given a copy of The Watchtower by his “apprentice” which he then hands off to me while providing a brief synopsis of its contents and assuring me I’ll find it interesting.
I take the booklet, assuring him that I’ll look it over, and then, wishing him well, I duck back into the house and get on with my frantic morning.
Later that evening, while looking through The Watchtower and trying to decide which is worse: the hopelessly outdated design and illustration style or the poorly supported theological arguments, I will tell myself that “enough is well and truly enough.”
It’s high time I told the Jehovah’s Witnesses exactly what I think of their mission to save my soul: “While I enjoy a good theological debate my time is precious to me and I’ve always found proselytizing to be a deeply offensive practice. Save the tracts for someone less likely to bequeath them to the recycling bin and move along. My soul already has plenty of gods looking out for it and I’ve no interest in adding your deity to the mix. I am not interested in what you are selling, now go away!”
That’s what I should say.
Maybe next month, if I have time to do more than nod and smile while trying to ease myself back through the door, I’ll do just that. Sometimes you just have to be rude.
If only they weren’t so damned nice.