There was a Samoan guy with a megaphone that patrols SoMa – where I currently work – and loudly extolled the people of San Francisco to honor the Scripture and accept the salvation that Jesus Christ extends.
“SAN FRANCISCO. THE TRUTH IS IN DA BYBUL. HONNA YO MUDDA AND YO FADDA.”
He became somewhat of a minor celebrity in the neighborhood. Everyone knows who he is. He’s unmistakable with his kung-fu goatee and bald head, portly stature that makes him more of a waddler than a strider, and an undoubtedly home-pressed White-T with various bible chapters and verses.
You could hear him as he passed by your building, evangelizing and doing God’s work, much to the laughter to everyone within earshot. His weak English mixed with his uncompromising style didn’t make for a compelling minister. I can’t understand anything other than his oft-repeated yell.
“HONNA YO MUDDA AND YO FADDA.”
Now, I acknowledge that there are a lot of similarities between this Samoan Jesus and the prophets and ministers in the Bible, the ones who endured constant persecution and mockery in their mission to spread the True Word. Every joke I made at this man’s expense probably validated his mission even further, each setback or roadblock probably strengthens his grasp onto his own cross. He was unwavering, consistent, and fucking loud.
Actually, not always fucking loud. I’ve walked by him a couple times in his lucid state. He would give me a friendly greeting as I passed by.
“Peace to you my brudda, honna yo mudda and yo fadda.”
He was as part of my day-to-day as deadlines and overpriced lunches were. Then, for the past few weeks, he wasn’t there.
I got in the habit of wearing headphones to work, so I wouldn’t hear him coming in the alleyway. I saw him a few times on the corner proselytizing to the convention crowds at Moscone, but it’s been awhile since I’ve heard Samoan Jesus endlessly remind me of the 4th Commandment. Like Cotton-Eyed Joe, I wondered where he went, where did he come from, where did he go…
It’s amazing how much thought you’ll invest in someone you don’t initially notice. It’s their absence that really makes you mull on their significance.
It’s sad to say, but Samoan Jesus was one of the few outwardly and unapologetically passionate people I’ve met since I moved to San Francisco.
It makes me smile a little when I go through online dating sites, and the girl states that she’s looking for a man “that’s passionate about something.” I always feel like putting up a photo of Samoan Jesus, hand raised at a minister’s angle, in mid-yell to the sinful masses of Sodomites and seculars that weren’t in the mood for another crazy Jesus freak at the corner.
It makes me laugh. The man captures all the buzzwords that tech entrepreneurs in San Francisco all espouse in their branding materials and keynote speeches. Resourcefulness. Dedication. Passion.
I suppose I can expect nothing less from Samoan Jesus from SoMa, the heart of the SF tech industry. He’s might be the pastor that SoMa didn’t want or like, but he’s definitely the pastor that SoMa deserves.