(The following appeared in the November 1st edition of Article 25)
It’s nice to know when people make a one dollar donation to Article 25; they actually read the good words that are printed here. I’m not sure if my words are good or not, but at least I made an impression on someone and he, in turn, has made an impression on me.
This person, let’s call him Mitch, picked up a copy of the August edition of Article 25 where, in this column, I wrote “Someone Wants to Meet You at Cornerstone,” a column about the Cornerstone Project at 10th and Madison in Covington, Kentucky. Cornerstone is a religious organization that provides various free services for people in the area.
I like the people who run it. Toward the end of the column, I state that I’m not a religious person, but that the people at Cornerstone have their hearts in the right place. I still believe that. So does Mitch.
Somehow, Mitch found my email address and sent me a note. He said he wanted to meet up with me for lunch—his treat—at a restaurant of my choosing. Freelance writers never turn down a free lunch. I emailed Mitch back saying I could meet him at Covington Chili. This would be on a Tuesday at noon.
I got there exactly on time and there was Mitch sitting in a booth towards the front of the restaurant. He’s a young guy, probably in his 30’s with short black hair, brown eyes and he was wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. We shook hands.
I asked him if he had been waiting long. Mitch said only a few minutes. Our waitress came over for our drink order. We just wanted water.
After the waitress left, Mitch told me he liked the Cornerstone column in Article 25, told me he knows some of the people who work there and then told me he’s a missionary who works for an organization very much like Cornerstone. He’s also a writer, has written two self-published books on religion.
We talked about writing habits for a little bit—then our waitress came back over for our food order. Mitch looked at the waitress and told her he wasn’t that hungry, then looked at me and said to order anything I wanted. I wasn’t that hungry either. I asked our waitress to bring me a grilled cheese sandwich on wheat along with some chips.
This is when things start to go downhill. Mitch didn’t want to talk about writing anymore. He wanted to talk about the article I had written and about the fact I’m not religious. I started to feel very uncomfortable.
As Mitch started to quote scripture to me, my mind raced as to how to get off that subject. I asked about his family, where he was from, if he was married—really anything else except talk about the Bible and his beliefs. He kept on talking.
The waitress brought my sandwich and chips over. While eating, I let Mitch say whatever he wanted to say. At one point, I wished I had suggested we go across the street, to a bar that sells food. I could have used a real drink rather than just plain water.
Mitch talked and talked and talked about my need to accept Jesus Christ as my savior. More sooner than later, I started to tune him out. I finished my sandwich, wiped my mouth with my paper napkin, then said, “Excuse me.”
I told Mitch how I try to live my life. I told him I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. If that gets me somewhere, fine. If it doesn’t, then my life will end on the best note I can make it. I told Mitch if he wants to believe in fiction, that’s his business.
Mitch didn’t say much after that. Our waitress brought the bill over. Mitch looked at it for a second, then looked at me. He got up from the booth and while shaking my hand said it was nice to meet me. He then left Covington Chili.
I had just enough money on me to pay the bill. I apologized to the waitress for leaving her such an awful tip. I walked home shaking my head.
This type of thing is nothing new to me. Years ago, I remember being on a Metro Bus in Cincinnati when a Bible carrying woman approached me wanting to “Save me.” I had to change seats just to get away from her.
Why are these people like this? I mind my own business. I don’t approach others with my beliefs or try to convert others to my way of thinking. In other words, I’m not a nut.
The folks at Cornerstone aren’t nuts either. They’ve read my original column in Article 25 and accept me for who I am. I, in turn, do the same for them.
Getting back to Mitch, that’s not the end of the story. At the time I’m writing this, I’ve received four emails from him telling me, in too many words, that I need to accept Christ in my life, that I need to be saved.
Hey Mitch, if you’re reading this in Article 25, I’ve deleted all of your emails. Leave me the hell alone.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch and meeting up with this Mitch character just confirms it.
I’ll “Save” me, Mitch. You just save yourself.
(Image from presentence.org)