Wayne Whitney's Postings: Number 050 In The Collection

From wwhit71151@aol.com Mon Feb 17 01:46:53 1997
Subject: Wayne Whitney - Picket Report San Francisco Org Feb 15,97
Date: 16 Feb 1997 23:46:53 GMT
Message-ID: <19970216234601.SAA12496@ladder01.news.aol.com>

Picket Report - San Francisco Org 83 McAllister Street Sat Feb 15, 97

Hi Everyone,

When I first arrived several staff members were cleaning the outside of the building. They always keep their storefront so clean and respectable looking. All the more reason to have a "truth in advertising label" like me out in front. It takes a little of the sparkle out of their tinsel in the window.

About an hour into my picket another member (who had been hauling in books or something) came back out and stood just watching me for a few minutes right near my turn-around point. Finally, as I approached he steps right in front of me. He glances up at my sign and then back at me and says, "What you are doing here is WRONG. You are just stupid and weak-minded."

I look right at him and respond in a friendly tone of voice, "Thank you for sharing that with me. You have a right to your opinion - just as I do." With that I point up to my picket sign. I wait about 3-4 seconds to see if he has anything else to say. When he doesn't say anything else I simply turn around and continue my pacing. He also turns around and walks away in the opposite direction. He was probably going back to the mission. That conversation was certainly gonna go nowhere.

I have never seen that guy before while picketing so I bet that he's never seen me out there either. I do sort of know him from the mission so he's not a total stranger. I figure that this is the first time that he's had to confront a picketer so he was probably just reacting and blowing off a little steam. About half of the members of the Org have made at least ONE comment to me before "flattening out" so his reaction shouldn't have been surprising. I expect that if he sees me out there a few more times that he will flatten out as well. All the rest pretty much have. There's kind of an uncomfortable, silent truce between me and most of them when I am out there. There ARE a few staff who honestly don't seem to give a damn that I'm there. To them it appears that I don't even exist.

About an hour later this guy on a bicycle stops me. He first asks me why I'm out there. I tell him. He then informs me that the reason he stopped was that he noticed my sign and wanted to tell me that he knows a whole family that was TOTALLY devastated by this cult. He said that they had become involved and when they tried to get out they were so harassed that the mother committed suicide. He then went into detail exactly how they were all harassed.

He said he knew all about this because he was a very good friend of the daughter. I suggested that he encourage his friend to write up her story. I explained that this was just the kind of first hand accounts that are needed in order to get this sort of thing exposed and stopped. I told him that if she wrote it up that I had a way to get it scanned and placed on the net.

At this point I could tell by the look on his face that he was becoming upset and was having difficulty talking about all this. He EVEN told me that it was painful for him to even think about what had happened. He introverted and became silent for a bit. I gave him a few moments. Finally he said that she still seemed to be too traumatized by the whole experience to be able to tell her story but that he would ask her anyway.

While I was talking to him I got a lump in my throat and my eyes filled with tears. This is the first time that this has happened while I've been out there picketing. I've listened to so many other horror stories but this is the first one that REALLY got to me. I tried to quickly pull myself together before anyone saw me. I know that I am most effective when I remain fairly unemotional so I try to stay as level-headed as possible on the street. Sometimes, however, the stories I hear out there DO get to me. This was one of them.

To remain effective I must often suppress my feelings in public. Only me (and my cat) know how much all of this REALLY gets to me sometimes.

Wayne Whitney ( a concerned citizen )