Life · Politics · Religion

Streetcorner Shenanigans

I like to think my ‘city armour’ is pretty good. Even if my phone dies, I keep my headphones in, I try to avoid eye contact (although that doesn’t always work), and I can weave through a crowd well enough (pro tip: be short). Lately though, I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to get through the mob at Yonge and Dundas. It could be that I’m there more often since I picked up a part-time gig at the mall, but I honestly think the crazy has been turned up a level.

First we have the Jesus screamer, who stands quietly in front of Forever XXI until an unsuspecting woman (watch him, he’s always yelling at women) passes by and he shouts ‘BELIEVE’ as loudly as he can at them. It takes every fibre of my being not to punch him in the throat.  I usually settle for flipping him off inside my mittens.

Across the street, next to the poor hot dog guy, a young-ish man stands on a box with a megaphone and yells at us about how selfish we are and how only Jesus can save us. I’ve seen some people attempt to debate him, but it’s like having a discussion with my cat Josephine. Nearby we have the Free Info on Islam bros, whose worst offence is their giant signs which can make navigating through the melee a bit tough at times. They occasionally hand out pamphlets, but either I’m not their target demo or they are a bit more respectful of personal space.

The most recent addition (and in my eyes, the most puzzling) is the animal rights/vegetarian group. While not as loud as the Jesus screamer, they annoy with sheer numbers. They have signs, people forcing info into your hands, and they’re very vocal. As I tried to get to the entrance of the mall the other day, one member of their group literally chased me down and started to shove papers into my hand. I growled at him, ‘I’m already a vegetarian,’ he said something unintelligible and backed off. I found the whole thing so off-putting I actually wished I weren’t veg so I could go eat some spite-filled bacon.

The sheer lack of logic at the core of these tactics is mind boggling. I can maybe understand the religious groups’ streetcorner proselytizing because of that whole ‘go make disciples’ thing in the bible, but even that argument is weak. ‘That guy who screamed in my face on the street really showed me the error of my ways, now I love Jesus/Muhammed/Bhudda/the Flying Spaghetti Monster,’ said no one, ever. Seriously, if someone is going to change their entire life philosophy because you yelled at them in public, you don’t want them in your club.

The vegetarians can’t even blame a big book telling them what to do. They come across as sanctimonious and judgemental, and they’re not helping. Food is a pretty personal choice; I would argue even more so than religion. I’ve tried not to make a big deal about going veg, aside from talking to my friends because it’s news (I love steak, my godfather is a beef farmer, and to say some people were surprised would be an understatement). If someone wants to talk to me about the reasons behind my choice, I will happily tell them. What I won’t do, however, is post on Facebook/Twitter/My Space/ICQ about how bad eating meat is and won’t someone think of the animals? I wouldn’t even consider non-vegetarianism as a dating dealbreaker (sidebar: non-drinking is, as I recently discovered). I don’t give a fuck what you eat, and I wouldn’t expect you to care what I eat either. Maybe the reason these protestetarians bother me so much is because I worry they represent me/my choices, and they do so poorly. Let’s make a deal: I won’t judge all Christians by the Jesus screamer if you don’t lump all veggies in with those douchebags.

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4 thoughts on “Streetcorner Shenanigans

  1. After reading this when you first posted I decided that I would yell “PRAISE BATMAN” in the Jesus Screamer’s face the next time I was down there.

    Today I chickened out (pun?) because I was carrying a box of Popeye’s on my way to meet my sister for dinner and I was worried he’d knock it out of my hands.

    Next time.

  2. I wouldn’t say being short is a universal advantage. Us beanpoles can play the long game by looking for less-dense regions we can head for. My patriarchy privilege powers probably protect my person periodically from pushy pamphlet proselytizers (I’M SO SORRY, I started typing that, and then couldn’t stop) so I have to imagine my annoyance is less than yours. Considering how annoying that intersection’s crowd is to me, you have my deep sympathies. Have you considered counter-pamphlets? “Personal Hygiene: What it can do for you!” comes to mind. I’ve never dared, myself, but the idea persists.

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