Wayne Whitney's Postings: Number 094 In The Collection

From wwhit71151@aol.com Tue Apr 29 14:25:30 1997
Subject: Wayne Whitney - Picket Report SF Org Apr 26, 97
Date: 29 Apr 1997 12:25:30 GMT
Message-ID: <19970429122501.IAA28038@ladder01.news.aol.com>

Picket Report - San Francisco Org 83 McAllister Street, Sat Apr 26, 97

Hi Everyone,

Today I arrived about 11:50A. The weather started out good but became a bit gusty as the day wore on.

I started my picket and one of the first guys that came up to me asked why I was there. I quickly told him my story. When I told him how much money I got conned out of he asked in a very demanding tone of voice, "No one had a gun to your head did they? DID THEY? YOUR the one who signed the checks DIDN'T YOU? At that point all I could say was, "Yes." With that he abruptly turned around, head up in the air, and walked off (having made his point). Some people find it so easy to become smug and laugh at someone else's misfortune when they've never been in a similar situation themselves.

After a whole year of picketing this is about the only thing that still really gets to me where the effects tend to linger for quite some time. Sure I get angry or discouraged by what some people say to me out there but I try to deal with it, put it away and then try and move on. After all I've got a picket to carry out -- that NEEDS to come first. At least I can take some comfort knowing that I'm helping to keep others from inadvertently getting ensnared in the same situation.

Around 12:45P about 15 members came outside for a break. I don't know why they waited till lunch was almost over but they did. About this time some guy across the street saw me and started shouting at me. One thing I heard him yell was, "Scientology *IS* a scam". I couldn't understand most of what he was saying because of the traffic noise and the distance. However, I could see he was all excited so I decided to participate in a shouting match with him. I started yelling back things like, "It's just a big money making scheme". "First they take all your money then they try and take your mind". "Hubbard was a bankrupt science fiction writer." And a few other juicy things.

This turned out to be a fun little 'shouting fest'. There's just something about being able to shout in public that I find exhilarating. This little exchange with him really got my adrenaline flowing. Besides pumping me up it accomplished a couple of other things. Everyone within earshot stopped to hear what we were both yelling about, this included all the members out front. It gave me a chance to let them (and everyone nearby) know WHY I was out there, all in about 15 seconds.

As the day progressed I noticed an encouraging turn of events. All last year the police pretty much ignored me, almost as if I was invisible. They rarely even glanced at me as they passed by. The police department is virtually across the street so there is always plenty of police activity in the area so I know it wasn't because they didn't know I was there. This year, however, especially after I had that encounter with them awhile back, they've been paying more attention to me. Some have even stopping to watch me for 5 - 10 seconds.

Today this attention went even further. On three separate occasions three different officers waved at me. The last one who did was entering the little bakery next door to the Org. As he did he looked at me, raised a clenched fist in a sign of solidarity and support, then he waved and walked inside.

Maybe this is all just coincidence, maybe it's because if you see someone enough times you start to feel a little friendly towards them. Maybe it's just all the bad press that $cientology's been getting recently. I don't know the reason for the change in their behavior towards me but to me this is a good sign.

Last year when I first started picketing I got the SFPD day watch supervisor on my side. Now it looks like I've even gotten many of the beat police supporting me as well. This may not seem like a lot to some but to me it sure feels like a big accomplishment. I'm taking a win on this!

One of the main thoroughfares to the Golden Gate bridge goes right past the Org. Because of that many tour & city busses go right passed and I get the chance to display my sign to a rather larger crowd all at once. Because of this I've also now started doing a little something extra. I give all the passengers looking at me a few seconds to read my sign and then NOW I wave my arm and point to the Org. It's kind of like a double-whammy for them. First they get my message, then I present the building to them. I'm hoping this little extra gesture will make my message a little more real for them and make a bigger impression. Besides, adding in a little extra theatrics like this is fun, especially when I can get everyone in the bus to look at where I point. I'm allowed to have a little fun and ham it up a bit out there, anything to help get my message out more effectively. Just as long as I don't over do it and start looking like a clown out there.

By the way, that one bus driver who waited at the light for me to explain why I thought $cientology was a scam went by again today. He threw open his window as he passed and gave me the thumbs up sign. Bus drivers, firemen and the police didn't react this way towards me when I first started picketing. I'm beginning to see the attitude of that community changing towards that Org.

A short while later this one sweet, somewhat older, woman who I met on a Thursday awhile back happened by again today. She asked if she could walk with me for a little bit. We had about a 10 minute pleasant conversation while walking back and forth. At one point she suggested that I get a longer handle so that I wouldn't have to hold my arm up all the time to display my sign. I told her that I purposely kept it short so that I COULD hold my arm way up in the air. I told her that by doing that it really gave me a feeling of power and helped to keep me in the picketing mood.

What's even more encouraging is the fact that her wanting to spend a little time with me let me know that I've achieved a balance of maintaining a strong presence out front without being intimating to those passing by. Complete strangers feel free to approach me and hear what I have to say. That's what I want. That's why I try to leave most of my anger at home and try to have fun out there. I try to stay 'accessible' to those people I'm trying to reach.

It was now 3:50P and time to go and catch my train back home. As I was hurrying back to the subway I passed this blonde-haired guy. He said something to me so I turned around and went back to hear what he had to say. I always hate to ignore anyone out there. I always feel that I should at least hear what they have to say. He asked me a few questions and I was able to tell him my story and explain why I was doing what I was. He had never even heard of $cientology before and it gave me a chance to really get my point across. We then exchanged names and phone numbers because he said he knew someone (a journalist) who he thought could help me get my warning message out more effectively. He just didn't remember her phone number right off hand so he wanted me to call him.

Once all this was taken care of he shook my hand and then, surprisingly, gave me a hug. I felt really awkward by this but at the same time I was moved. This act reinforced my belief that there are a lot of people out there that really DO care what happens to others, even if they are complete strangers. Some even aren't afraid to show it physically.

I've had some groups of guys walk past me and one of them will say something like, "Why don't you just get a life you stupid idiot." Well, let me tell you, while picketing I've been able to meet so many wonderful people out there that I feel that picketing IS a part of my life. Where else can I meet such a wide diversity of people to interact with than out there on the street while at the same time doing something that feels meaningful to me?

As I was still talking to him this other guy came running up. He looked down at my sign and said, "What's this all about?" Since I was heading home I had it down at my side already. He then told me that he had seen my sign from "two blocks away" ( can you believe it? ) and that he just HAD to find out what was going on.

I know I've mentioned this before but I've gotten so many positive comments about my sign recently that I just have to mention it again. My sign was inexpensive to put together, about 4 bucks. I did, however, take about 5 hours to assemble it and do all the lettering. Even though it's inexpensive I wanted it to look neat and show that I cared about what I was doing out there.

My sign says, "in my opinion SCIENTOLOGY IS A SCAM". As far as I can tell in all this time not one person has mistaken me for being PRO $cientology. A few people have asked me what the word "scam" meant though. This goes to show that people are still interested in what I have to say even before they know what my message is. It also goes to show that Hubbard was TOTALLY wrong when he said that if you give a person an MU (misunderstood word) that they will then feel compelled to attack you. Most just simply ask me what the word means. Some start out just curious what it means and then end up staying for quite awhile to hear all about my experiences in $cientology. What a way to get my warning message out, pull them in by giving them an MU! If Hubbard could see me now he'd be barfing up thetan balls.

Anyway, once again I was off to the subway to catch my train home. Back in the early 80's when I used to travel the subway I was just another nameless face in the crowd. Carrying a bright, fluorescent green sign certainly changes all that. As usual I was just sitting on the floor up against a post. With nothing else to do while waiting for my train I started to play with my sign, resting in the floor out in front of me trying to keep it balanced with one finger. At this point I was more just playing around then anything. Sure enough several people saw my sign and wandered over wanting to know what "Scientology" was. None of them had even heard of it before. One was a teenage girl who I could tell felt kind of uncomfortable talking to a complete stranger. I guess her curiosity got the better of her. My little exchange with her was kind of cute, me trying to explain about $cientology and at the same time trying to put her at ease. Being out picketing certainly gives me a chance to practice my social skills. Who knows, maybe someday I might actually get good at interacting with others.

After about two hours I finally arrived home. I got something to eat, put on my headphones, popped open a cold brewskie and then jumped on the $cientology chat channel for awhile before finally going to bed.

Tonight I drifted off to sleep feeling that my day was well spent.

Wayne Whitney