The last time I accidentally opened the door to Jehova’s Witnesses was on a hot, summer afternoon in Hampden. I was expecting a package so when the doorbell rang I opened it but instead of the postman with a new pair of shoes there were two elderly black ladies smiling up at me and I thought, “Oh shit.”
One of the reasons these situations are so stressful for me is that I am completely, almost pathalogically incapable of being rude to strangers. I could not tell them to fuck off, or slam the door in their earnest little faces any more than I could flap my arms and fly away from them.
“What’s your name, dearie?” one of them asked, and I felt obliged to tell her. She handed me a Watchtower pamphlet, and a few leaflets full of information about the hell I’m currently damned to and asked me very pleasantly if I was interested in salvation.
“Thank you very much for these,” I said, “but I’m just not interested. But thank you.” I moved to close the door, but the other old lady started telling me, very kindly, a whole list of reasons why Jesus Christ wanted me to be saved, and how only through the teachings of blah blah blah de blah would I something something something and I sat there, trapped, uncomfortable, kind of angry.
“Thank you very much,” I said firmly, “But I’m-” the lie came to me suddenly, “Jewish.”
I smiled regretfully, sure that that would be an end to it. And they did look taken aback for a second. But then the first one regained her composure and said,
“Well, aren’t Jews interested in salvation? Don’t your people want to go to heaven too?”
“The baby’s waking up from his nap,” I lied again. “I have to go. Terribly sorry! Thank you again so much for these!”
Today I learned another difference between Turkey and America: Turkey has the worst Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I was standing outside work gazing forlornly at the trees in the park across the street- it’s a gorgeous day, sunny and not too hot- when a man came up and asked me something in Turkish. When I informed him that I spoke English he switched gears and asked me fluently if I had ever heard of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He smiled hopefully and help out a pamphlet.
“I have,” I said, bracing myself for a couple of excrutiatingly uncomfortable minutes, “And thank you but I’m not interested.”
“Oh,” he said. “You aren’t? Well, have a nice day.”
And he walked away. Just like that. And I stood there staring after him, appalled that he would let my soul go without a fight.