Monday, September 27, 2004


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.


3Jake said...

Wait. Is God somehow connected with Juicyfruit? Like in the old SAT: God is to Juicyfruit like Buddha is to Wintermint? I think that is freakin' awesome. I want my god to the God of Gum. The GoG if you will.

Anonymous said...

I received a generic chewy granola bar from these people a couple months ago. I didn't eat it. I received a chocolate bar from Wainwright Bank at the Davis Square T a couple of weeks ago, on a day I really needed it, and thanked the hander-outer guy profusely. I have no intention of banking at Wainwright-- should I have returned the chocolate bar?

Part of the reason for not eating the granola bar was because I didn't know these people and I questioned their motives. I ate the chocolate bar-- I had an idea of who my next of kin could sue if it was adulterated in any way (the wrapper providing the evidence) and I knew their motives-- they wanted my business. So I ate the chocolate bar. I think the church, being a non-profit, probably wouldn't have provided as big of a payout in case they were actually out to poison people. (I'm kidding-- I don't think either entity was out to poison people. Just sayin', apparently I trust a bank more than I trust a church.)