Saturday, January 09, 2010

Jehovah's Witlesses

'Tis the season to be accosted. Greenpeace can get fairly aggressive on the hike-and-bike trail, which is tiresome as I really have to be sure not to go over my hour for lunch, and I'm not going to give anybody any money, but when someone calls wheedlingly out to me, "Come on, you like trees, don't you?" it's hard to walk stonily past without feeling like a Republican.

I do indeed like trees. In fact, I might never get a live Christmas tree again, now that Jim's not making that call. Fresh flowers I don't mind, but I've always been troubled by the concept of sacrificing a tree's life just for a few weeks' holiday decor. Never mind the mess, the needles that will carpet the back of my car for as long as I own it, the cats' unfortunate tendency to attempt to mask the piney smell with more pungent aromas of their own. No, the worst part is taking all the lights and ornaments down on January 6th and hauling the poor forlorn husk to the curb. I can't even look it in the eye, and wouldn't be able to even if trees HAD eyes, which (unless you're a big Lillian Vernon shopper) they generally don't.

But the City of Austin has a nice program where they at least recycle your discarded trees by grinding them into mulch. You can leave your tree at the curb and they'll pick it up on your regular garbage day, but if it's over six feet tall, you're supposed to saw it in half. Do I look like a lumberjack to you?! So instead, I shoved it into the back of the Isuzu Behemoth which my amazing friend Diane is selling to me on ridiculously easy terms, to help me out through the divorce - Diane is a GOOD FRIEND - and took it to the temporary Christmas tree recycling drop-off at Zilker Park.

Have I mentioned that I love Austin, love it, love it, love it, love it? This morning's experience reminded me that I haven't said so for a while. The dropoff point at Zilker Park presumably had at least a few city employees, but was largely staffed by volunteers. It was extremely well-organized and efficient, with staffers directing traffic into separate lanes and hurrying to unload and haul away trees. And it was bitter cold out, for Austin - just under 20 degrees at the time I went - and, my gosh, they were so nice. Bundled up in coats, hats, and gloves, they bustled competently through their work, smiling and thanking me for bringing the tree in. And as I drove away, the person directing traffic out of the lot gave me a big, bright smile and a cheery wave. I felt as if I'd had a booster shot of holiday cheer to last me through the rest of this cold winter. The scent of pine needles in my car probably helped, too.

Worse yet than Greenpeace, on the hike-and-bike trail, is the short-shorts guy. I write this hesitantly, afraid that perhaps I know him from somewhere and am being inexcusably rude for not responding to his repeated salutations; but if (as I suspect) we've never met, he's kind of a creep. I avoid eye contact with him now, and I have my iPod and earbuds as a legitimate enough excuse for not hearing anything anyone happens to say to me, but he gives it a good try anyway, addressing me two or three times whenever he sees me, and sometimes turning after we pass and calling after me. I've changed my walking route, and may change my lunch hour as well.

And worse yet than the short-shorts guy are Jehovah's Witnesses. Jim came by today to use the Behemoth to move another large installment of his stuff out of my house. Staggering under a heavy armload of his belongings, I found myself face-to-face with a woman and her small daughter. She seemed taken aback. "Is this your mother?" she asked Katie, who explained later that the woman had stopped by and talked to her once before while I was at work.

Katie responded that yes, I was, and the woman asked her, surprised, "Are you moving?"

"My husband is moving out," I told her shortly.

Now, here's where Jehovah's Witnesses are different from you and me. Solicitors of any other product, however noxious, would probably gather from my reply and the fact that my arms were uncomfortably full that, perhaps, now was not an ideal time.

She, however, introduced herself, and attempted to hand me some literature.

But she had a little girl with her, so I smiled, and said pleasantly, "Thank you, but we're not interested," and got back to the business of loading up the Behemoth. And I guess I have to give her credit for not pressing the matter further.

Beth's rating for the week:
Diane: 8 million bajillion stars
Greenpeace: 2 stars
Guy in short-shorts: 1 star, with an option for a possible future restraining order
Jehovah's Witnesses: 0 stars, and a $50 gift certificate to Specs

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At January 10, 2010 2:43 AM, Blogger Billy Joe said...

That's funny, I had an encounter with Greenpeace just yesterday in Boulder.

Years ago I gave to Greenpeace. They deducted from my credit card every month. While I love a lot of the results they get, and agree wholeheartedly with where they're coming from, I have some issues with some of their methods. I stopped giving to them.

Yesterday a kid stopped me while out for a casual evening stroll along Pearl Street. He was one of many decked out in their official Greenpeace jackets. I don't remember how it started, but just like in your case he opened with a question that I'd obviously say yes to, and which was designed to make me feel like Satan himself if I said "no" and kept walking.

I stopped.

He was trying to get me to sign up for auto-debit donations using one of my greatest weaknesses - genetically modified food. We chatted for a moment, I declined, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. He said something to the effect of, "Oh so you like eating genetically modified food and supporting companies like Monsanto."

There aren't too many other things he could've said to set me on fire.

"Listen here, I do more in my daily life to combat the things Greenpeace is against than you do in a year of standing out here harassing people." I listed a few examples and tried really hard not to haul of and punch his smug little ass. For a moment he actually didn't have anything to say, but he soon recomposed himself and immediately jumped into "Why? Why? Why don't you want to sign up? Just tell me why?"

He didn't seem to get it.

Gerard and I walked on and discussed whether or not desperate times really do call for desperate measures. If the last stand of rainforest is about to be felled, are we justified in rallying the people to save it even if it means being rude about it? What it came down to is who gets to decide what's that important. Some people justify killing doctors to save the babies they may abort. Some people justify harassing me on a casual stroll to get genetically modified food labeled. Some people think that knocking on my door to save my soul or to get me to vote for Obama are justified.

I just don't know.

At January 12, 2010 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Billy's last paragraph sums this world up. It is all in the eyes of the beholder and what one person does and feels is the right thing will more than likely offend another person. There is no way around that and this is why there will never truly be world peace or a "right way". Religion can't do it, politics can't do it, Greenpeace can't do it and even Dr. Phil can't do it.

Do you think an Iphone would work on a deserted island, far far away from civilization?

At January 12, 2010 8:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awwwww, Thanks!! We need to get together soon! I miss ya!


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