At the doors of the Porter Square T were people handing out Juicy Fruit gum. I thought they were corporate shock troops, intent on introducing nonchewers to the sweet, fleeting delight of this enduring brand.
I reached out to accept my consumer due and a half-second later was through the door of the station, slowing as I read the equally bright yellow-and-blue card that came with the gum:
Yes ... it really is free!
We hope this small gift
brings some light into
your day. It’s a simple
way of saying that God
loves you — no strings
attached. Lets us know
if we can be of more
The obvious first reaction is, “Sure you can be of more assistance. You can give me more gum.” But as tired as I am of giving money to the homeless and being told that God blesses me, it’s worse to be evangelized when all one is trying to do is walk in peace, catch a ride to work and get something for nothing. I walked back to the door, leaned out and politely told the man, a pleasant, gray-haired sort, that “I really couldn’t. Thanks.” I handed him back the gum and card and went back inside, feeling righteously unholy. I’d resisted free gum for a principle.
Inside the station, of course, there were several of the cards littered around, left behind after people had absorbed and rejected its message. I saw then from the back of the card that the gum was a gift from Hope Fellowship Church, on Beech Street. My agnostic smugness drained away.
These were the same people from whom I’d accepted a free Christmas tree this past holiday season. I may have kept my soul clear of Christian taint by resisting a gift worth 25 cents, but that merely leaves me down the remaining $49.75 value, roughly, of the tree they gave me.