Picket Report - San Francisco Org 83 McAllister Street, Oct 11,96
I read a few postings of some guys who were sort of tossing around the idea of picketing the London ORG on Thursdays. I thought, "What a bloody good idea." Because of those posts I decided to add an extra picket Wednesday to see if staff still went into there "feeding frenzy" the way they did when I was there. Unfortunately, as I was getting ready to go I developed a case of the hiccups so I had to postpone it until Friday.
I arrived shortly after 2:00 PM and began my usual pacing. I didn't really see anyone out there so I thought it would probably be pretty dead since it was a weekday. Around 3:00 PM a few staff and public came out for their break. Then more and more and more came out. I finally realized I was outnumbered almost twenty to 1. I quickly became quite uncomfortable and self-conscious. I thought, "Oh my God, don't look at the crowd Wayne, don't look at the crowd". Because of that I redirected my attention to the drivers of the cars passing by. After about five minutes I extroverted enough to calm down and was able to get myself re-focused. At that point I remembered I had my second sign at my side which reads, "You have a right to talk to me. Call me at (510)-449-0332." I figured what better way to open up a channel for communication than to make eye contact and point out my sign. Besides, I had a golden opportunity. It looked like almost all of them were out there. From that point on every time I would change direction I would quickly scan the crowd to see if anyone was looking at me. If someone was I would make eye contact and then hold up my sign so that I was sure they could see it. After a few seconds I would look away and lower my sign again. It's times like that when I really wish I could read minds so I could tell what kind of impact I'm making.
I've been encountering a new type of situation outside the ORG. Sometimes when a group forms around me there's a sudden clash between two people in the group. One person will suddenly turn on another and become verbally abusive to them, just like what happens to me sometimes. One guy I had been talking to became so disgusted when this happened that he just walked away. He came back later and we talked about what had happened and smoothed things out. Friday a woman who came up to me was suddenly insulted by the guy I was talking to. She became a bit frustrated but I was really impressed by how she held her own with this guy. She didn't let the guy get to her but handled the situation beautifully. She didn't resort to becoming abusive in return. After all was said and done I don't think this guy meant any harm. Sometimes people say things that can be so insensitive without realizing it.
This type of situation never happened outside the mission. The Org is in a completely different neighborhood so it shouldn't be surprising that totally new situations would develop out there. When hostility arises I immediately think, "Oh my God. What should I do now?" So far when the hostility has been directed at others I've just stood there and let the situation take it course. If the situation were to start getting out of control I was prepared to step in and sort of act as a moderator. I feel a sense of responsibility for maintaining the peace out there since these people never would have gotten together if I hadn't been out there with my picket sign. After having dealt with so many types of people and so many different situations I feel fairly confident that I could defuse almost any situation that may arise. I'm keeping my fingers crossed of course.
While I was pacing these two guys walked by. One of them said to me in a very negative tone of voice, "Haven't you got anything better to do with your life?" That little zinger really let the air out of me. My first reaction was to just go home right then. Instead (after a few minutes of mumbling to myself about what an idiot the guy was) I tried to pump myself back up by remembering all the reasons I was out there. It's incredible how one little comment like that can have such an impact on me.
Anyway on a happier note. There's one more oddity that I'm getting curious about. Friday this one public member came outside and just stood there silently watching me. Every time I looked right at him he would look down at his feet. I kept watching this thinking, "Is he going to defect? Is he going to ask me a question? What's going on here?" After about an hour this staff member came out and brought him back in. At the time I figured maybe he was just on a break and didn't want to hang out inside. Then it happened again today (Sunday the 13th). This young woman (my former Key To Life clay table auditor) was sitting on the couch by the window just watching me. When I looked at her she would just keep watching me so I would show her my sign. Any time someone would come up and start talking to me she would call over this staff member and they would both watch me. I guess I'm just going to have to picket more often so that I can hurry up and find out what's going on in there. I just HAVE to satisfy my curiosity about this new development.
Wayne Whitney ( a concerned citizen )