While riding FrontRunner to Ogden last week, I shared the same car with five newly minted missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Visibly nervous, the three sisters and two elders were bound for a decidedly foreign mission, where they would experience many new, exotic and even scary things: Oakland, Calif.
While in the Bay Area, it’s possible they will attempt to seek out potential converts to the faith via a method regarded today as one of the most annoying human behaviors — knocking on doors at random.
In fairness, I knocked on thousands of doors during my own two years in South America shortly after the Crucifixion. I hated being the one doing the knocking. Nine times out of 10, it was clear that we were annoying the occupants.
People had various forms of letting us know we had come at a bad time (or even at all), ranging from slammed doors to furious dogs and once even gunfire. Sometimes, they poured laundry water on us from an upstairs window, pelted us with various forms of dung or simply screamed until we left.
The most surprising was a woman who set an attack rooster on us. It pursued us back onto the road. Then it strutted back-and-forth inside the gate as if daring us to return.
Me • “Well, that was embarrassing.”
My companion • “Elder, we just witnessed Satan transform into a chicken. We have to report this to the mission home.”
While I didn’t like the way we sometimes were treated, I understood it. Today, I do not approve of people ringing my doorbell on the off chance that what they’re selling is worth interrupting whatever I choose to be doing at the time.
More accurately, I hate it. My first thought upon opening the door is almost always to imagine what their empty clothing would look like after being processed through the digestive tract of a crocodile.
Note: I’m trying not to do this anymore because the smile the image evokes is always misinterpreted as a welcome. Instead, I politely disengage and close the door even if it’s in midsentence.
Someone else sees this porch proselytizing as an annoyance as well. The satirical Babylon Bee, an Onion-like news website for Christians, joked about a new video doorbell “designed” to fend off Latter-day Saint missionaries and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The “device” engages in theological arguments with preachers of differing religions seeking to change your mind — or even finally help you make it up — by spitting out rebuttal scriptures supporting different views of the Bible.
Since people have been slaughtering one another over varying interpretations of God’s word for centuries, I doubt it would have the desired effect.
I have a better idea. It’s also easier. Print out a sign with the following message:
“Ring the Doorbell Only If You’re Actually Prepared to Meet the Lord (or Whatever Comes Next).”
It’s not as gimmicky as a scripture-dueling doorbell, but it’s less messy than a chicken and cheaper than a large Satan … I mean reptile.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.