Article 25

The Human Condition

In Uncategorized on 12/07/2012 at 2:48 pm

Human Condition

No such thing as a free lunch

By Larry Gross


It’s nice to know that when people buy a copy of Article 25 –  which some consider a $1 donation to the person selling it –  they actually read the good words that are printed here. I’m not sure if my words are good or not, but at least I made an impression on someone and he, in turn, has made an impression on me.

This person – let’s call him Mitch – picked up a copy of the August edition of Article 25, in which, in this column, I wrote about the Cornerstone Project at 10th and Madison streets in Covington, Ky. Cornerstone is a religious organization that provides various free services for people in the area. (See “Someone Wants to Meet You at Cornerstone,” edition of Aug. 1.)

I like the people who run it. Toward the end of the column, I stated that I’m not a religious person, but that the people at Cornerstone have their hearts in the right place. I still believe that. So does Mitch.

Somehow, Mitch found my e-mail address and sent me a note. He said he wanted to meet with me for lunch – his treat–  at a restaurant of my choosing. Freelance writers never turn down a free lunch. I e-mailed Mitch, saying I could meet him at Covington Chili on a Tuesday at noon.

I got there exactly on time, and there was Mitch sitting in a booth toward the front of the restaurant. He’s a young guy, probably in his 30’s with short black hair and brown eyes and he was wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. We shook hands.

I asked if he had been waiting long. Mitch said only a few minutes. Our waitress came over for our drink order. We just wanted water.

After the waitress left, Mitch told me he liked the Cornerstone column in Article 25, told me he knows some of the people who work there and then told me he’s a missionary who works for an organization very much like Cornerstone. He’s also a writer, has written two self-published books on religion.

We talked about writing habits for a little bit. Then our waitress came back over for our food order. Mitch looked at the waitress and told her he wasn’t that hungry, then looked at me and said to order anything I wanted. I wasn’t that hungry either. I asked our waitress to bring me a grilled cheese sandwich on wheat along with some chips.

This is when things start to go downhill. Mitch didn’t want to talk about writing anymore. He wanted to talk about the article I had written and about the fact I’m not religious. I started to feel very uncomfortable.

As Mitch started to quote scripture, my mind raced as to how to get off that subject. I asked about his family, where he was from, if he was married – really anything else except talk about the Bible and his beliefs. He kept on talking.

The waitress brought my sandwich and chips. While eating, I let Mitch say whatever he wanted. At one point, I wished I had suggested we go across the street, to a bar that sells food. I could have used a real drink.

Mitch talked and talked and talked about my need to accept Jesus Christ as my savior. More sooner than later, I started to tune him out. I finished my sandwich, wiped my mouth with my paper napkin, then said, “Excuse me.”

I told Mitch how I try to live my life. I told him I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. If that gets me somewhere, fine. If it doesn’t, then my life will end on the best note I can make it. I told Mitch if he wants to believe in fiction, that’s his business.

Mitch didn’t say much after that. Our waitress brought the bill. Mitch looked at it for a second, then looked at me. He got up from the booth and while shaking my hand said it was nice to meet me. He then left Covington Chili.

I had just enough money to pay the bill. I apologized to the waitress for leaving her such an awful tip. I walked home shaking my head.

This type of thing is nothing new to me. I remember being on a Metro Bus in Cincinnati years ago when a Bible-carrying woman approached me wanting to “save me.” I had to change seats just to get away from her.

Why are these people like this? I mind my own business. I don’t approach others with my beliefs or try to convert others to my way of thinking. In other words, I’m not a nut.

The folks at Cornerstone aren’t nuts either. They’ve read my column in Article 25 and accept me for who I am. I, in turn, do the same for them.

Getting back to Mitch, that’s not the end of the story. At the time I’m writing this, I’ve received four e-mails from him telling me, in too many words, that I need to accept Christ in my life, that I need to be saved.

Hey, Mitch, if you’re reading this in Article 25, I’ve deleted all of your e-mails. Leave me the hell alone.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and meeting up with this Mitch character just confirms it.

I’ll “save” me, Mitch. You just save yourself.



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