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The Metro Transit Diaries
True Stories from the Minneapolis Metro Area
Metro Transit Diaries: Curbside Prophet 
8th-Oct-2006 08:32 pm
Hookers stand on busy street corners in some neighborhoods. In fact, so many hookers do it with such great regularity that almost everyone above the age of 13 knows what "standing on the street corner" implies. In my neighborhood, however, we have street-corner evangelists, hookin' for the Lord.

There's one matron in particular and I've seen her many times, turning the same trick. She's a short, thin, middle-aged white woman with shoulder-length hair, and a boisterous voice. She always wears the same thing: tan cardigan, white dress shirt underneath, high-waisted pants that should have died in the 80's, a black skinny belt with a silver belt buckle, and black penny loafers. I would make some tasteless joke about conservative dress, modesty, and religion, and how hot the combination is... but even I can't blaspheme that much.

She stands right in front of the GAP, which I find amusing for several reasons, and reads loudly from the Bible. There's generally a hobo, or an impoverished traveler sitting at her feet begging for spare change as she shouts over the traffic on Hennepin Avenue (which, all things considered, is a pretty remarkable feat. She goes on for hours, and how her voice holds up is a mystery to me).

She does not acknowledge your presence. You could stand directly in front of her, and stare into her face for however long you care to. She will not meet your gaze, and she will not talk to you. She simply keeps reading.

She does miss or mispronounce a single word. This woman has practiced, to the point where it feels like a choreographed routine. She reminds me of speech class... where you have your notes, just in case. You look specifically at different parts of the room/area, but never directly at someone. This is how she reads. She reads looking up and out, beyond the passerby, but she does not engage them. She gives no sign that she is even aware they have passed.

I went to church with great regularly during my childhood, attended a "Christian Day-School" until I was in second grade, and was a counselor at Church camp after I was too old to go as a camper, so I recognize some of the passages. Some of her frequent readings include any of the gospels, the story of Moses, and particularly (my personal favorite) Revelations. Ah yes, the end is nigh. There really isn't anything quite like overhearing rehearsed doomsaying whilst in transit.

Tonight's doomsaying has given me cause to write. I assume the apocalypse must be near at hand, because tonight our siren of scripture was not alone. To her right, there was another short, middle-aged white woman holding a large crucifix, crudely made out of sticks, papier-mache, and yarn. She was portly, and kept her head hung in what may have been silent prayer. Mostly, she looked cold despite the fact that she was sporting a corduroy winter jacket with fur trim.

To the left of our Trinitarian termagant, a tall, middle-aged white woman who remained silent. She simply stood there, I suppose reinforcing the notion of Holy Trinity. She looked frumpy and bored. I probably would have assumed she was homeless had she not been standing so close as to obviously frame the speaker, but she did not have any pamphlets, and she wasn't asking anyone to repent. She just stood and watched.

Normally I'd shrug this sight off, but I can't get the woman on the left out of my head. I find it strange that she is the one that weirds me out the most, seeing as her religious fanaticism is obviously less visually/aurally apparent. I want to know what made her choose to spend her Sunday night standing in the autumn chill in front of a clothing store that closed at six.

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