Being in your apartment is like being in a cocoon – you are insulated against people intent on pushing you, screaming at you, brushing you, falling on you, stepping on you.
Once you are on a subway train, you may attempt to recreate that cocoon by putting on your headphones or avoiding eye contact. There is one pest of New York that can always cut through your hastily constructed wall: the proselytizer.
Proselytizers, or Street Preachers, have every intention of having you hear what they have to say, even if what they have to say is of little consequence to you. They preach from bibles and pamphlets. They annunciate and shout. They pace up and down the subway car whether the train is empty or packed. Although they come in all shapes and sizes their message is often the same – you are damned.
People who aren’t religious may find the presumptiveness of Street Preachers astonishing. People who are spiritual can resent the intrusion on their moment of calm; if they wanted to hear the word of God, they would go to their own place of worship.
In New York, it’s impossible to find a moment to yourself, a moment of peace. But if you find your moment interrupted by the brash words of a street preacher, be warned. Do not ask them to pipe down. Do not ask them anything. Do not make eye contact with them. Your moment of attention, is exactly what they’re looking for.