Last night my wife and I were enjoying are nightly walk. Our community is great for walks like these. Lots of sidewalks and scenery. In the space of 30 minutes our walk takes from our home in the woods, past houses with big yards and picket fences, to the little downtown area in our city.
It’s a great way to start the evening.
But last night we had an unusual and annoying twist to our normally relaxing walk.
We were about 5 minutes into our walk, on a residential street when I heard a voice:
“Hi. How you doing tonight?”
I didn’t see anyone in front of us. Nobody near us to either side. At first, I had no idea where the seemingly disembodied voice was coming from.
So, I looked around again, this time focusing out a greater distance. Finally, I saw the source of the distant greeting.
It was two young men walking our way. They were across the street and behind us. Neither my wife nor I recognized them but they were heading our way like they wanted to talk.
They were wearing white shirts and ties and carrying dark books. I knew immediately who they were.
In our neighborhood, we always say “hi” to people. We waive if we’re out of normal talking range. And, if we know the person we might stop and chat for a minute or two.
But this is all done in the context of three things:
- Established relationship (we already know them)
- Relevant range (they’re close enough to talk or waive)
- Eye contact (we’ve made eye contact with them)
What we DON’T do is yell across the street to someone we don’t know who is walking the other way.
When you have to stop and look around (almost 360 degrees) to see who is greeting you, and you’ve never met them before, that’s not a natural way to meet someone.
It’s awkward and uncomfortable.
It turned out the two young men were missionaries. Part of their work is to knock on doors to see if anyone wants to hear the message their church has to offer.
Our response was “no thanks” as we walked even faster so they wouldn’t catch up to us.
While I applaud their dedication and hard work, I disagree with their methods.
They’re out during dinner hour interrupting people’s lives.
I’d bet my mortgage payment no one in our neighborhood last night was just sitting in their house twiddling their fingers hoping a pair of missionaries would stop by to talk with them about their religious views.
What these two earnest young men probably don’t realize is their doing more harm than good. They’re bothering people. And they’re doing it when people are home from a hard day at work and trying to enjoy some quality time with their families.
That’s pretty inconsiderate if you ask me.