1. The Tract Dropper
Distinct Markings: None that we know of.
Distinct Calls: None that we know of.
Usual Habitat: Bookstores, libraries.
Habits: The Tract Dropper is the hardest of all the North American Evangelists to spot. It is easy to figure out where the Tract Dropper has been, however, as he or she leaves behind a string of brightly colored pamphlets about how you can know that Jesus is god because its in the Bible and the Bible says the Bible is true or how Dungeons and Dragons leads inevitably to a life of Satan worship (when we all know that Dungeons and Dragons actually inevitably leads to a life of prolonged virginity). But upon leaving these markings behind, the Tract Dropper simply disappears.
It’s currently believed that these pamphlets are part of an elaborate mating ritual, as evidenced by the fact that they most often appear in books like The Illustrated Kama Sutra and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sex. However, the tendency of pamphlets to also appear in books read by children, mostly the Harry Potter series, leads to certain speculation about the sexual peculiarities of this sub set.
What to do when Encountering: This shouldn’t be an issue. You will probably never see a Tract Dropper in the wild. However, should you come across one of their pamphlets, please remove it to the nearest rubbish bin. The bookstore employees or librarians will be quite appreciative…
2. The Note Leaver
Distinct Markings: pens, big fake smiles
Distinct Calls: “God bless you,” “Have a blessed day”
Usual Habitat: Mid-level sit-down restaurants.
Habits: The Note Leaver is a close relative to the Tract Dropper, except often visible in the wild. The main problem with dealing with the Note Leaver, however, is that, much like the Tract Dropper, you won’t know you are dealing with one until after they have appeared and left. The Note Leaver will give to their server at a restaurant a note indicating that god loves them and that the service was appreciated. This note is often left in lieu of a tip and, therefore, a real pain in the ass to servers who have to split 60-40 with the busboys and still make rent.
What to do when Encountering: Hope like hell that the Note Leaver is on a date and accompanied by a non-Evangelist type like The Embarrassed Boyfriend. They will often leave higher tips to make up for the stupidity the note. [Editor’s Note: This may or may not be written out of personal experience.]
3. The Tract Tosser
Distinct Markings: handfuls of colorful pamphlets about religion and such.
Distinct Calls: “Um, excuse me, uh, do you, uh, do you know Jesus as your personal lord and savior?”
Usual Habitat: Somewhere close to the front door of that building you want to get in to.
Habits: The Tract Tosser is usually some poor schmuck who got roped in to an evangelism event. Chances are that the Tract Tosser didn’t realize what the event was or thought that a particular attractive member of the opposite gender was going to be there and that person did not show (as it is often the case that most such events are preceded by a large portion of the group saying, “Oh, that? Yeah, it sounds like fun. I’m thinking of going,” and followed by, “Oh, that? Sorry I didn’t make it. My, um…my grandma…uh…died. Yeah. It…it was tragic. What’s that? No. I have three grandmas. Really. Long story…”). Another possibility is that the Tract Tosser was talked in to it by someone who was questioning his or her fundamental salvation. The Tract Tosser doesn’t want to be keeping you from the mall or the Blimpie or the tire store or whatever any more than you want to be kept.
What to do when Encountering: Remember, the Tract Tosser is more afraid of you than you are of him. You can usually walk by without making eye contact. Should you feel the need, grab an offered pamphlet and drop it in the nearest rubbish bin. If you’re the sort who can’t not respond, remember that the answer to the question of whether Jesus is your personal lord and savior is always, always, “Yes.” If the answer actually is yes, then hey, you’re telling the truth. If it isn’t, well, nobody knows and the Tract Tosser will feel better. Also, you’re going to Hell, anyway, so one more lie won’t hurt. It’s kind of like eating a Skittle after consuming an entire Cheesecake Factory cheesecake…
4. The Evangi-Dater
Distinct Markings: ostentatious Jesus-y jewelry and accouterments.
Distinct Calls: “Jesus told me to buy you a drink.” [Editor’s Note: I think I’m gonna use that one this weekend…]
Usual Habitat: Bars, internet dating sites, coffeeshops, wherever people find dates.
Habits: The Evangi-Dater generally thinks that they can have fun and let people know ‘bout the love of Jesus all at the same time. He or she wants to have fun, be a good influence and still feel like they’re doing the right thing and believe they will eventually, through the fine art of nagging, picking fights, and complaining, get their poor, unsaved partner in to Heaven. It’s kind of like every other relationship, except instead of an unreachable and arbitrary personal ideal the partner has to live up to an unreachable and arbitrary Jesus-y ideal.
What to do when Encountering: It’s your call. Bear in mind that while statistics indicate your odds of getting laid aren’t significantly different with a regular relationship compared to an Evangi-Dater relationship, your odds of having to deal with lots of follow-up guilt and being guilt tripped in to going to some annoying cookie-cutter megachurch service on Sunday mornings are significantly higher.
5. Conversation Guy/Gal
Distinct Markings: Bible, probably some sort of Jesus t-shirt and cross necklace.
Distinct Calls: “Hey, what do you think of that book you’re reading?”
Usual Habiat: airplanes, coffeeshops, parks, anywhere conversations can be started.
Habits: The Conversation Guy tries to find things to talk about with complete strangers in public. He (or she) will generally show up asking innocuous questions that somehow turn in to a discussion about spiritual things. Sometimes they start out that way, too, but it’s far more common to be having a completely normal conversation about the book you’re reading, then have it suddenly turn in to an uncomfortably personal question about the state of your personal well-being. At other times Conversation Guy will conspicuously read the Bible in public, undoubtedly hoping that someone will show up and say, “Hey, what’s that? Why are you reading it? Will you help me to use your strange, foreign object created by moveable type and a paper binding device to help me find all the secrets of the universe?”
As the great sage Jim Gaffigan once said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, does anything make you feel more uncomfortable than some stranger going, ‘I’d like to talk to you about Jesus?’” Sadly, Conversation Guy never got around to listening to Jim Gaffigan. It would seem he also didn’t get the memo that the North American Evangelist is actually supposed to be uncomfortable sharing their faith, or got it and crumpled it up. In another life, Conversation Guy would be selling vacuums door-to-door and really, really enjoying it.
What to do when Encountering: Pretend to be deaf and blind. Should Conversation Guy, say, run in to you while you’re watching the newest episode of Burn Notice on your Creative Zen Vision:W and sitting on a plane, you might be in trouble.
If it’s just conspicuous Bible reading person [Editor’s Note: yeah, it’s entirely possible to read something conspicuously. Just trust me on this], you’re in luck. If you act uninterested, there’s a chance you’ll be able to avoid conversation long enough to avoid having to have that uncomfortable conversation.
In general, however, your best bet is to avoid sitting next to strangers on a plane. Unless the stranger is a really attractive Evangi-Dater/Conversation Guy/Girl hybrid. At that point you know the risks and rewards…