Vancouver
2 min

Like a Witness

My turn to snare the passerby

Nothing rubs me the wrong way more than a Jehovah’s Witness on Davie St.

I automatically assume they’re targeting the gays.

“How would you like it if we handed out pamphlets at your church?” I want to snap when they wish me a good morning.

You can’t walk two blocks in this town without someone wanting your time and a donation for some cause: Red Cross, Greenpeace, Amnesty International… NAMBLA.

Being a guy on the go, I always point to an invisible watch or headphones, whizzing past them like the Nike swoosh on my way to some imaginary appointment.

Then I found myself wanting other people’s attention, standing at a table in front of Little Sister’s trying to attract passersby on a mission real or imagined.

I feel like a moron most days, but standing there, holding a bunch of pamphlets like a bouquet of flowers, I felt like… a Jehovah.

And I elicited the same response, because ultimately what I’m doing is proselytizing — maybe not in the biblical sense, but I’m trying to sell a concept to strangers and get them to donate their hard-earned money and precious time to my cause.

You know when you see someone you tricked with on the street and you can tell they’re avoiding eye contact? Well, that’s how I felt, only a hundred times worse. And that was after 10 minutes.

At one point, I just wanted to quit and go home, but I reminded myself of a line from the musical Evita: “It’s hard to be the leader when you’re the one you’re following.”

That Madonna, she really knows how to keep a gay guy motivated.

For the most part, I was preaching to the converted. I was relieved to find people like me who want the same things.

Then someone would challenge my opinion or my motives, and I would question my beliefs. Remarkably, instead of being discouraged, I would accept it for what it was: dialogue.

Still, it was hard not to resent the people who turned their noses up at me.

A few days later, I was at a coffee shop when I overheard a group of guys a couple of tables away criticize one of the pamphlets I had been handing out. They took exception to each carefully crafted paragraph, which had been vetted by a jury of 10.

“Do you know how long we argued over the letter Q?” I wanted to reprimand them.

But you can’t, just like you can’t tell the Jehovahs to fuck off because it only emboldens them. Instead, you go back to whatever you were doing until someone else politely asks you for a moment of your time.