“Hello, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” They looked so unassuming, three teenage girls who walked up the front steps of my house and rang the doorbell on the first truly nice Saturday in Chicago in recent memory. I wasn’t expecting this, we don’t get a lot of foot traffic out where I live – nobody even knows the name of my neighborhood. I always tell people I live near Albany Park, and even then most people don’t know what I’m talking about. Generally I say “end of the brown line”, which prompts the question “how far west is that?” “About thirty four hundred west”. “People live that far west?” The kicker is, I don’t even live west of Pulaski, and if you ask any true West Side native, they’d tell you my house is on the North Side.
I felt sorry for the girls, and couldn’t bring myself to be rude to them. Maybe that was the point in sending out young girls to do the business of old religion – how could I do anything but politely smile, nod, and as tactfully as possible explain that I have no true religious beliefs. “Well,” I finally said, “I’m not religious, so I don’t really think about Jesus.”
“Oh”, the lead one – the only one who’d spoken, said. “Well, do you believe in the bible, or…”
“I wasn’t raised religiously”, I said.
“Oh. Well . I was, so it’s… you know – different.”
“I’m sure it is,” I thought, but held my tongue.
“Well, we’d like you to at least take this,” she said, extending a pamphlet titled “How can you be sure you won’t go to hell when you die?”
“Okay”, I said, and took the pamphlet.
“Have a good day” the lead girl said.
“Thanks, you too. Good luck,” I said, and I meant it. I walked back inside and heard my upstairs neighbors’ doorbell ring. I knew they were gone for the weekend – although they are practicing Christians. I opened the door again.
“My upstairs neighbors are gone for the weekend.”
That’s all I can think of to say about that particular incident. There was another time when someone tried to sell us a home security system, and the occasional alderman, but other than that, we really don’t get much foot traffic out by us – south of Albany Park, east of the West Side, north of fashionable addresses everywhere, and too far west for most people to know about.