a picket at the San Francisco Scientology building
Peaches, Taniwha, phr, and I put in an hour picket at the San Francisco org today.
As usual, I had friendly inquiries at the bus stop and on the bus and was able to give out fliers before even arriving at the org. On my way over, a construction worker motioned for me to slow down so he could read my sign, then gave me a thumbs-up.
NO STRESS TEST TODAY
I happened to arrive first. When I got there, there was no sign of activity - no stress test table set up and no one handing out free "Orientation" tickets.
WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN?
It had been drizzling during the morning, but once again I used my GSPOTS (my non-existent Gnarly Suppressive Person Oat Tea powerz) (thanks, StarShadow! Bright Blessings!) to stave off the rain during the picket. (I also brought an umbrella, which helps keep it from raining.)
Peaches and Taniwha showed up a few minutes after I got there. Peaches looked very professional, as usual. (It's almost a shame there's no longer a chance to picket closer to the Financial District. Peaches would fit right in.) I was in my eye catching BRIGHT RED outfit. (Do they really look like jammies?)
LOTS OF FLIERS DESPITE LIGHT FOOT TRAFFIC
Although foot traffic was lighter than last week, we still got a lot of supportive comments from passersby, and I gave out a lot of fliers - so many that I had to mooch some off Taniwha and phr. I guess I'll have to print up some more for next time.
Our-Lady-of-the-Stress-Test-Table came out and began giving away large brochures, which I think were advertising the "Orientation" movie along with general $cn info. She kept her back to us a lot of the time.
phr arrived a bit later with his brand new blank sign. He lettered it on the spot (one side was about medical fraud, the other about the Henson trial). With four of us, we covered the sidewalk quite well. There was very little clumping this time.
MR. BLUE SUIT WON'T TAKE MY LETTER
The Blue Suited Gentleman from last week spoke with Taniwha again today, but much more briefly this time. As I was passing, I asked him if he was a Scientologist. He said yes, and I asked him if I could give him a letter. (This, of course, is my letter asking $cn for concrete information on whether they're anti-feminist or not.) He said no, and that he'd already read it. ... If he's already read it, he knows it's simply a request for more information. I can't imagine why he wouldn't take it. I would think $cn would jump at the chance to correct me if I'm wrong.
READING MY FLIERS IN PLAIN SIGHT
There's a pastry shop on the corner, and at least a couple of times, people who had taken my fliers stood in the doorway of the pastry shop, reading over my information. One gentleman ran through my flier point by point with me. When he got to the "Don't take my word for it" item, he became very enthusiastic, and talked for several seconds about the importance of finding things out for yourself and reviewing the evidence before you make up your mind.
Another gentleman stood by the crosswalk for quite a while. (He had a $cn brochure he had pulled out of a trash can.) He accepted a flier from me, and then kind of went off into a bunch of questions and commentary that I found difficult to follow. (For example, out of the blue, he asked me why it took me so long to wise up. He showed me a little business-card-sized piece of paper with a logo and a phone number on it, but I couldn't find out why he was showing it to me ... which he later seemed to think meant that I couldn't read it.) I spent a few minutes with him, then went back to picketing. Peaches and Taniwha ended up talking to him for a bit, as well. I don't think he was trolling, but I must say the thought that he might be crossed my mind.
A FRIENDLY FACE NEXT DOOR
A lady who works in the law office next door to the $cn org talked with me for a few minutes. She had read our picket reports (a friend had forwarded them to her) and mostly just wanted to say hello and be supportive. Apparently when the people in the law office are giving directions to new clients, they make a point of saying "it's the building NEXT DOOR" to $cn and making it very clear that they're not affiliated with $cn in any way. It was nice to meet her - I had heard about her from the friend who forwards her our picket reports.
Finally, we decided to leave. I wished OLotSTT a good afternoon as we passed her. (By the time we'd crossed the street and walked half a block, she'd gone back inside.) We went to a nearby cafe. Just like last time, when we went to sit down with our drinks, the couple at the next table asked for information. I gave them my "Why I Picket" flier, a Xenu, and a Lisa. As we were getting up to leave, they politely asked if we had a moment, then asked a number of good questions about $cn. They said they lived in the neighborhood. They seemed to appreciate the information we had. I'm sure we could have spent much more time answering their questions if we didn't all have other pressing business.
Another couple of fliers left my hands at the bus stop on the way back.
I've been thinking lately about different picketing styles and the different emphasis we have. Some protesters prefer to give out the Xenu fliers, while I prefer to give out the Lisa and my own "Why I Picket" flier, even though I've noticed that the Xenu flier seems to be very effective. The people who get it seem to find it funny, or alarming, or both. It's just not my particular point of emphasis (although I'm happy to give one out to people who seem like they'd be interested). Also, the four of us are rather quiet picketers (although phr was doing a nifty little dance today!), unlike Roland and some of the other protesters I've read about. (Are critics louder in England?)
I think this is a good thing. I think the diversity of approaches and viewpoints is a real strength. (Of course, I'm a Californian. I WOULD think that.) I'm glad we don't have a Tech we have to follow that stifles our individual methods of expressing our various criticisms of $cn.
It sure beats playing follow the leader.
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.