New York City’s subways have something for everyone to hate. I’ve seen people wince at the sight of roaches and turn up the volume on their iPods when confronted with beggars. I even saw a man kick a pit bull sized rat into an oncoming train once.
I have my private metro pest, and I’ve often wondered whether I’m the only one who feels this deeply annoyed at what is really pretty commonplace.
I can’t stand it, cannot deal with it, when people try to convert me to their religion during my morning or evening commute.
I don’t discriminate – I dislike Christian pamphlets, Muslim flyers, and Lubavitch posters. I don’t want evangelical smiles, Mormon good cheer, or L. Ron Hubbard’s words of wisdom. (These guys actually have a bus driver converting people.)
Recently, there have been new developments in subway proselytizing. Instead of people handing out fliers or delivering impromptu sermons, we will now see ads, space bought up by different religious or anti-religious organizations, telling us what we’ve been doing wrong and how to fix it.
Friends of mine, even family members, don’t find subway prophets as annoying as I do. I’ve seen people get involved in lengthy, interesting theological discussions with those trying to convert them. My mother even finds the attention flattering. She says it’s nice that someone’s looking out for her soul.
While I understand that point, I often wonder about the people asking me to help them save my soul. They have obviously assumed that I’ve committed some sins, but what about them? And who gave them the right to proselytize on the subway?
Perhaps it is time to reevaluate the use of public space. I bear no ill-will towards any religion or towards atheism, I just don’t need to talk about my soul before I’ve had my coffee.