a picket at the San Francisco Scientology building
I did two quick solo pickets in the rain.
Suppressives: just me
Date/Time: 5/27/98, 11:55 am - 12:05 or so, then 12:45 - 1:10 or so
Handouts: fliers ("Don't Be A Sucker", "Why I Picket", Lisa, Xenu), suckers, postcards!
Foot Traffic: Light to Steady
Street Traffic: Steady
Scn Response: Non-Confront/Hiding (well, it WAS raining)
General Passerby Response: Favorable
Stats: 15 suckers w/ sucker fliers; about 20 "Why" fliers; about 5 Lisa fliers; 9 postcards
Note: as I do NOT have perfect memory, any quotes below are very close paraphrases. I apologize for any inadvertent inaccuracies and will try to correct any errors that are pointed out to me.
I did two short solo pickets at the San Francisco org today, with a nice chat with Taniwha at a cafe in between. It was drizzling pretty much the whole time, but it was a light enough rain that I closed up my umbrella and picketed without it.
I had my usual sign (USING YOUR TAX $$$ TO DEFRAUD etc. / NO SCIENCE IN $CN / $CN DESTROYS FAMILIES), plus a bunch of "sucker" fliers and some postcards pre-addressed to the California Attorney General.
THE PRE-PICKET PICKET
On my way to the bus stop a woman passed by me and nodded approvingly at my sign and said "Good message." I promptly turned around and asked, "Would you like a postcard to send to the attorney general?" She said "Sure" and took one.
I love handing out info before I've even gotten to the bus stop.
PTS = PUBLIC TRANSIT SUPPRESSIVE
Two people on the bus asked me about my sign. One took a flier and one took a postcard. In both cases, they asked good questions that let me provide more info about $cn that other riders could hear.
ALL BY MYSELF
When I got to the org, no Scientologists were visible on the sidewalks. There was no one body-routing and no stress test table set up. I juggled my equipment for a moment (closed the umbrella and stuck it in the straps of my backpack), then began my picket.
SHOW ME THE CANDY!
I had "Don't be a sucker!" fliers with me, nearly identical to the ones I gave out last week - although I have added the URL for my own "Why I Picket" web page, and since I didn't glue the suckers to the fliers this time, I added a simple graphic of a sucker in the middle of the flier.
I also tried an innovation which turned out to be the key to a successful sucker giveaway:
Use a clear plastic bag.
I had the lollipops in a clear plastic bag today, and people came up to ME to try to wangle one. (One gentleman said, "Are you gonna eat all those tootsie pops yourself?") As a result, despite the rain and the short time I spent picketing, I gave away 15 suckers and sucker fliers.
One of my first takers spent at least two minutes ranting to me: "I HATE those guys. I went in there for a job, and they wanted me to work for NOTHING!"
I asked whether he had reported the incident to the labor commission. He said he hadn't, but that that was a good idea. He waved and took off - as if heading off to the labor board right away.
A pair of older ladies expressed interest in my fliers and were quite supportive. One of them reminded me that we lose 60% of our body heat through the top of the head and told me I should be wearing a hat. ;-)
About ten minutes into my solo picket, Taniwha appeared on the sidewalk, shaking his head. Being much more sensible, he decided NOT to picket in the rain, so we adjourned to a nearby cafe to see if it would let up.
By the time we'd finished our beverages, the mist was still falling. I decided to do another bit of solo picketing, since I'd come all the way downtown.
(A few of the passersby did ask me where the others were. ;-) Fortunately, most of the ARSCC(wdne) and those further down in the heirarchy (wadne) have enough sense to come in out of the rain.)
"$1300 TO JOG?!"
A young lady asked for fliers and told me about a friend of hers who had done the Purif. "$1300 for jogging and vitamins? I told him, 'give me $300, I'll go jogging with you.'" She said it had proven so expensive that he had lost his apartment. I asked if he was okay now, and thankfully, she said he was.
Several minutes later, as she passed me again on her way back from wherever she had gone, she made a point of catching my eye and waving.
FLUNK FOR NON-CONFRONT?
The Scientologists did a pretty good job of ignoring me. They did come outside and cluster in little groups of two or three to smoke cigarettes. (At one point in their conversation I heard something about "dedication" but they probably weren't talking about me.)
I did see a Sea Org lady walk past me rather quickly in her neat blue uniform.
Usually, it seems to me that the Scientologists do a pretty good job of averting their eyes when they walk past me. I could be mistaken, but it seemed like two Scientologists actually replied and made eye contact when I inadvertently offered them fliers today. (I usually try to only offer fliers to people who make eye contact with me. Scientologist or not, if someone doesn't want to be bothered, I try to respect that.)
SO MANY MESSAGES, SO LITTLE TIME
I was pleased to notice that my different messages seem to attract different audiences. I have so many things I want to tell people about $cn, but there just isn't time in the five seconds I have to make an impression.
One lady asked about the tax angle - "I know that they're harassing critics in court and practicing medicine without a license, but how are they using our tax dollars to do it?" I explained about the tax breaks that nobody else gets, and handed her a flier with references to more info.
Another pair of ladies wandered by and said "They're practicing medicine without a license? How?" so I got to explain the Purif and the Introspection and hand them a Lisa flier (I think it's one of the most effective things I can say at a picket: "This flier is about a woman who died in the custody of Scientology.") and mention that there are many, many other instances of $cn practices that come under this category.
I wish I could think of a good way to plaster myself with ten or twenty different messages, and still make them readable.
I think I've mentioned before that many people decline my proffered fliers, saying, "No thanks, I already know it's a scam" or something similar.
With those people in mind, I brought a dozen postcards as a test, to see how they'd go over.
The postcards call for an investigation into reports of $cn criminal activity, and they're pre-addressed to the CA attorney general (the Office of Public Inquiry). (I've posted the complete text in another message.)
As I mentioned above, the first person I encountered who already knew about $cn was happy to get a postcard. In fact, I had great response to the postcards, so I think I'll print up a bunch and bring more to the next picket.
I think many people feel like they'd like to do something to help out, especially if requires very little effort or money on their part. If they have the option of doing it anonymously, so much the better. The postcard fulfills all these requirements. (I probably could have given away more, but for today, I was limiting them to the people who seemed to already dislike $cn and seemed like they would be receptive to the idea of sending in a postcard.)
I had the usual supportive comments and conversations, although the rain does tend to make people keep to themselves.
My sign's a little weathered, but once it dries it should hold up for another picket. Then again, maybe it's time to make another one.
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.