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Saturday, 22 December 2012
SKY - A small piece of the story - me as an OOT PDF Print E-mail

In all my lurking in the past few months, I don't think I have ever run across anyone talking about their experience as an Outer Org Trainee.

For those not familiar with this training program, what happens is a Class V Org decides to (or is forced to) send one of their staff members to train at Flag or a Continental Training Org. They get through their training program and return to their Class V org as "Flag-Trained!!" Generally it is to train for some kind of technical post, i.e.: auditor, case supervisor, course supervisor; although sometimes they send people for other training as well.

I went to Flag as an Outer Org Trainee and it was probably the first truly awful experience I had as a Scientologist. At my home org it was very friendly and all about helping yourself and others become more able, yada yada yada. We might have been delusional but we were happily delusional.

So I got talked into going to Flag. "Wow!" everyone said, "You'll love Flag!"

The Flag promo insisted it was the "Friendliest Place on Earth" and "Happiest Place on Earth."

I was really excited! I hopped on a plane as soon as I was approved and took off to Clearwater. The flight my org could afford was a red-eye with quite a long layover, so I ended up arriving without having slept for over 24 hours (couldn't sleep on the plane--too excited!) and the only food in my belly was airline peanuts and OJ.

Well, I wasn't much of a traveler and it took me awhile once I'd arrived to figure out how to get from the airport to Flag, but I finally got a shuttle and was heading to downtown Clearwater.

The rest of the day is kind of blurry. I attribute that to the lack of food and sleep thing, as well as being really confused and lost.

Basically I was put on a routing form and told, "go here" "go there", get on this bus and find this person and get them to sign this and then go onto another place.

For anyone who's never been to Flag, it is actually made up of several different buildings in Clearwater. Some of the buildings are just down the street or across the street from other buildings, and some are further away. They made the OOTs (Outer Org Trainees) ride shuttles between ALL the buildings. Even if it was a one minute walk away, you were supposed to take a shuttle. I got so freaking turned around I had no idea which direction was what, I couldn't figure out why people kept telling me to catch a van to such and such a place and I'd get on the van and tell the driver where I was going and it seemed to me like he'd go around the block and drop me off in the same place I started. I was getting SO frustrated.

And everyone acts like you're in their way or putting them out if you dare to ask them to help you figure out what you're supposed to be doing or where you're supposed to be going.

(Later I would figure out that had to do with the pressure put on everyone to get through their training. I became one of those people myself for a little while. That's probably one of the biggest things that bothers me about being a Scientologist. I WAS one of the nasty ones for a time. I was completely unsympathetic and unreasonable and I had contempt for a lot of people. I look back at that and it makes me nauseous.)

Anyway, I finally got some food and sleep after several hours of trying to get through this routing form. I almost decided to go home right then--I can't tell you how many times I looked back at that and wished I'd just hopped on a plane home. But no, I wanted to be Flag-Trained! So I stayed.

I just noticed how much I've written about this. God, there's a lot to say about it. I think at this point I will focus just one particularly nasty aspect of my Flag experience.

The absolute worst thing for me about being an OOT was WORK STUDY. It should have been called "slaves for the FC."

One thing I probably have to clarify here. Flag in Clearwater isn't considered just one org. The two orgs I dealt with were Flag Service Org and Flag Crew (I don't know, there might be other orgs as well). Flag Service Org was the org that delivered training and processing. Flag Crew was the org that provided all the food, berthing, transportation, etc. for the staff and public and OOTs.

When my org at home didn't bring in enough money to pay for my room and board with Flag Crew that week, I had to do Work Study. Now, I was warned about Work Study before I went to Flag, but the people who told me about it made it sound like no big deal. Just helping out occasionally to "keep my exchange in."

Well, it turned out that to pay Flag Crew back for my room and board (which consisted of sharing an old moldy motel room with five other trainees that I didn't know, and eating my three meals a day that were prepared for 1500 of us and didn't involve much variety) I had to work for them about 35 hours a week, doing whatever grunt job that no one else in Flag Crew wanted to do. We often worked alongside the EPFers, although at the time I didn't know what the EPF was.

In the mornings they would gather all of us together who had non-paying orgs, and tell us how awful our orgs were that they didn't care enough about us to make enough money to pay for us to get through our training. (Since we were doing Work Study about five hours a day, every day, it took a big chunk of time out of our study time. If you were an OOT doing Work Study, it took almost twice as long for you to get through your training. That's a lot of time when you're looking at training programs that are for a year or two.) They would make us take turns calling our orgs and telling them they had to be "Tone 40" about getting us off Work Study, they would make us write Knowledge Reports on our orgs for not paying it. They would read us LRH quotes to get us all riled up about it, and make us chant them.

Now, I loved my org. I knew that they were doing their best to just keep the power and water on. At first I refused to write the reports. But after weeks of listening to how much our orgs were letting us, and therefore the planet, down; I started to kind of resent everyone back home. They didn't have to do Work Study... they didn't care that I did! They were committing a vile disservice by not making it go right to get that $120 to Flag every week!

I can't believe I let it get to me.

So after the 30-40 minutes of this BS, we would have to go with our masters for the day. They weren't actually called this but that's pretty much what they were. Sometimes we'd get lined up and then the staff of the Flag Crew that needed workers would come over and point to us, "I want that Work Study" (yes, they actually called us "Work Studies") or "I'm supposed to get three Work Studies today, those three will do." It was one of the most degrading experiences of my life. I felt like a slave on the block.

You would have to do whatever work they told you to. Most of the work I did was cleaning; cleaning the outsides of the motels, cleaning laundry, cleaning hotel rooms, cleaning dishes. There were other jobs and sometimes you would get in with one of the FC staff and have a nice steady place for a little bit, but then someone else would need you somewhere else and you'd get taken away to work for them. Or your org would manage to pay for you for a week and when you were back the next week someone would have taken your place.

Boy, this has turned out to be a lot longer than I expected when I started writing. I think I will call this my "Work Study" installment of Life as an Outer Org Trainee.

Anyway, I had read a lot of accounts of what it was like for those in the Sea Org, and I just wanted to contribute a different angle on being part of it without being part of it.

One thing that hastened my departure from the church was that management decided to start getting their hands a little dirtier and would send missions to our org all the time. By the time one had left another would show up. I hated it. Their presence at the org just caused a constant tension in the atmosphere, I was always on edge just waiting to get pounced on for not doing something properly or whatever. It's a lot harder to ignore up-lines orders when they're coming from someone standing in front of you. Combined with my own burgeoning doubts about the validity of the tech and problems I was having applying it, I just couldn't take being there anymore.

There were times doing work study where I really felt abused. Like when we would have to clean the outside of the motels (windows, doors, A/C units, etc.) in the July heat with no water or breaks for five hours. There would be one person, I think it was the CO of the motel, who would give us the cleaning supplies and tell us what to do and then just disappear somewhere. There were usually two or three of us doing this job, and if we didn’t get the whole building done when the CO came back, they would tell us how disappointed they were and that we would have to work harder next time.

Or if you were in the galley peeling 50 pounds of onions or chopping 200 pounds of chicken or cooking a thousand hamburgers. Never had more cuts, burns and blisters in my life. Although I have to say, the cooks in the galley (there were five of them) were some pretty amazing people. They put up with crap that would have made me run screaming. Can you imagine being in charge of cooking three meals a day for 1500 people? And pretty much any job they gave us to do, was something they would do themselves. A lot of the time we would work alongside each other getting the massive amounts of food prepared.

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