When I was six, I found out I was an excellent salesperson. That’s when I sold my first “Watchtower” magazine. Jehovah’s Witnesses are famous for walking door-to-door spreading the Good News. It was a sunny day. I was warm in my cotton dress with the lacy collar grasping viselike around my tiny neck. We walked up one side of the quiet neighborhood street and down the other. First a polite knock, followed by our introductions and the innocent question, “Have you heard the Good News?” If we were able to complete the introductions the inevitable “No thank you” came soon enough. Sometimes a lonely old women content to smoke herself into oblivion would invite us into the even hotter house. There she would offer us water or tea. Sometimes she even had cookies. I declined every offer, remembering what I was told about food and strangers. Some of the older Sisters would accept a glass of water, no ice and take tiny sips of it between stages of the Good News she was obliged to share. I watched and listened as the meek explained to the sinners what was to become of them should they refuse our News.
After leaving one similar scene on a humid summer day we came upon a man digging in his yard. He wore an undershirt and jeans. He had a bandana around his neck. He was digging up the water line that runs from the street to the house. As we walked one of the Sisters asked my mom, “Do you think Miranda would like to try?” My mom thought this was a great idea. I knew what the man was doing as my father did the same at our house once. I remembered his temper and how disgruntled he was so I thought maybe we’d better not interrupt this working man. The Sisters used logic on me, “Well he’s already outside, and we won’t even have to knock on the door.”
We approached. He looked at the Sisters, they pointed to me, “Miranda would like to talk to you for one minute if you have time.” The man turned his sweaty, sunburned face down to me, leaning on his shovel. I squinted against the sun and said in the tiniest booming voice, “Good morning. Have you heard the Good News about Jehovah’s promise of Eternal Life in Paradise on Earth?”
He hadn’t! He didn’t know! I wasn’t prepared for this part. I only knew the first part. I wasn’t quite sure what to say next so I held out a “Watchtower” magazine and said, “You can learn a lot about it with this article here.” The Sisters chuckled in the polite way only God-fearing, church-going ladies can chuckle. The man looked at me with patience and a little confusion. He reached for my magazine then dug into his pocket, pulling out a dollar. I stood there in shock, not sure if I should take the money or not. It seemed quite rude to take a man’s money for something we were all guaranteed, Eternal Life in Paradise on Earth. I was saved when Sister Nancy said, “That is very kind of you, sir. We use all donations to build our Kingdom Halls and supply our congregation with Bibles when they are needed.” She gestured for me to take the money. I did. I thanked him, wished him “good morning” and we walked away. He watched us walk away, wondering what I don’t know.
I was ecstatic! I made a dollar just by talking! I wasn’t thinking of church buildings or Bibles though. No way. I knew exactly what I would do with my dollar. I was going to buy myself some ice cream or French fries when we all went to get lunch later. I told my mother my plan and she was mortified.
“Miranda, that money is not yours. It is for Jehovah. You will not spend it on yourself.” Sister Nancy listened and whispered to my mom, “It’s okay. Let her do it. She earned it.” My mom relented and that day I bought myself a treat with a strange man’s hard earned money.
I work in sales now, though I’m no longer slinging passage to heaven on earth for all of eternity. I’ve gone a different route, something the Sisters wouldn’t understand or approve. I sell the idea of self-acceptance and self-approval in the form of…sex toys. Sometimes I call them “marital aides.” It depends on the customer. I imagine if the sweaty digging man came in, I’d ask him if he’s heard the Good News. He might remember a small, freckle-faced little girl and say he’d heard something about it. But it wouldn’t be the same Good News. The real Good News I now share with the world is sometimes even harder to accept than eternal life: we are all worthy and deserving of love and acceptance and most impossible to believe, pleasure. That’s an idea I can support. Hell, I’d even pay a dollar for it.