SKY - A small piece of the story - me as an OOT

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.

It was really difficult to be on Work Study and on some course where you needed a twin. If your twin didn’t have work study, they would get ahead of you and then have to catch you up when you got there. I found that only the most loyal people would stay your twin if you had work study and they didn’t. I remember reading the bulletin on twinning and how you had to have a twin and how a twin was responsible to get their twin through, but I practically never saw people keep the same twins through an entire course at Flag. It was like they were in too much of a hurry to get people through to pay attention to policy. It was for the greatest good, right? And it was practically impossible to get through auditing when on work study. Sessionability was a big problem for most of us.

You know, one thing I didn’t mention was that Outer Org Trainees would also come from the Sea Org orgs. It wasn’t only Class V org staff. Generally the SO OOTs had their room and board paid for by their orgs every week. Occasionally there’d be some problem with FP and some of them would have to do work study for a day or two until their org got the money to FC. I’ve never heard such protesting from SO members as when they had to do work study.

In fact, another one of my pet peeves was the way there was a kind of a caste system for everyone who was there. And we Class V org staff were at the bottom of the totem pole. (The only ones lower than us were the EPFers.)

When I first arrived it was during what they called an Evolution. What would happen is someone in upper management would have a great cognition. “We just realized that if every org had a Flag-trained (fill in the blank) the orgs would all boom and the planet would be cleared in a jiffy!” So then the orders would come for every org to send one or more people to Flag to get this great training. It’s not too easy to get someone who is “qualified” for the OOT program, therefore, most of the time it would take awhile to recruit someone to go or replace someone else who was already on staff and get that staff member qualified. So you’d send what people you could scrounge up and get them the training, and just as the last of the OOTs for that evolution were finishing up, there would be another “realization” about what post needed to be filled by a Flag-trained staff member. And a new evolution would start.

When I got there it was a big scramble to get all the new arrivals routed in and found places to stay and everything. So they just put you where they could fit you. The Class V and SO OOTs were all mixed in together. It was pretty interesting for me to get to know some SO members. But then after they got most everyone routed in and settled down, they segregated us. Put the Class V org staff in rooms together and SO members in rooms together. And we started finding out there were rules about the pecking order. If you were getting onto the bus or shuttle, you had to let an SO OOT get on first. When we were in line for dinner, the SO OOTs got in front of us. On course, it seemed like an unspoken rule to some of the Supes that if there was an SO OOT that needed help (word clearing, checkout on a drill, etc.) and a Class V OOT that needed help, the SO OOT would get help first. Not all the Supes were that way but there were a few that were. Definitely if you were talking about an OOT that was from CMO or a management org, they were the priority.

This bugged me big time. Sometimes I wondered if they did it to try and get the Class V org members to join the SO. When I was there they had a rule that you weren’t supposed to overtly recruit someone who was on staff at a Class V org. If the person originated that they wanted to join the SO, then… have at them.

SO OOTs also seemed to get priority in HCO, Ethics. God, I could go on for days about being stuck in Ethics at Flag. It was like a black hole. Everyone was afraid of going to Ethics because you would never get out.

Once I was in to do an O/W write up. I had originated that I wanted to go home (basically I was just homesick) and so they had me do the write-up, since if I wanted to leave I must have overts.

I was on that stupid thing for weeks. Each time I got to a good point and was ready for a meter check, it would be one or two days of waiting in HCO before I could get someone to give me the check. By that time I was usually kind of irritated at having to wait for so long, and guess what—no floating needle! “Go write more.” It got to the point where I was doing nothing but Work Study and wracking my brain for what O/Ws I had committed that I wasn’t writing up.
It got to the point where I would commit some overt (like skipping exercise time) just so I’d have something to write down. After getting yelled at by the MAA, I refused to write more. I said I was done and I wouldn’t write another thing down. I finally got handled in Qual on it and was relieved as hell. But after that I made sure not to do anything that might get me sent to Ethics. I couldn’t believe how inefficient they were there. I mean, it was Flag for God’s sake! You would think this alone would give me a clue about the fact that there were problems in the church and I needed to get out. But no, I decided that it must be that I wasn’t dedicated enough to be willing to experience anything. Although I’ll tell you one thing, it got me to the point where I was never tempted to join the SO!
It was always difficult for me to understand the mindset of all those who seemed to be stuck in illogical actions. These same people who were in charge of work study would also go through our rooms looking for anything that had fragrance, to throw it out. To them this meant anything that had a smell to it. I had shampoo and soap which had natural oils in them which had scents to them, but which didn't contain the ingredient "fragrance" or "perfume." I tried to refer them to the "Fragrance" reference and explain why natural oils with scents should be no problem, but it was like talking to a brick wall. If they could smell it, it had to go. Little things like this just completely pissed me off.

We had several supposed "terminals" as outer org trainees: the Senior Intern Supervisor (scary woman) the D/FCCI PO for OOTs aka Deputy Captain and the LRH Host Coachman (seemingly nice lady when you spoke with her, but when it came down to it she would stab you in the back. Sometimes you would have to deal with her assistant or deputy or whatever and she was even worse. Sixteen-year-old CMO people who think they know everything should never be given the authority that girl was given IMO.) The Deputy Captain was the one who we would usually deal with, but there were several times when I got him to approve my CSW and then the routing form would be stopped by the LRH Host. It was like they had a system set up to be able to avoid conflict. If I was bothering the Deputy Captain too much about something, he could approve it or tell me it was fine, and then the LRH Host would disapprove it and I couldn't give her a hard time about it since she was pretty difficult to corner. She could get very mean too when she wanted to be
CMO people usually scared the hell out of me. They just seemed to completely lack compassion and be the most arrogant, condescending people I'd ever met. I think I only ever met two CMO staff who didn't act that way. There was one of the MAAs who actually helped me through a sticky situation and who bypassed the proper R/F and went over everyone's head to help me sort it out to my satisfaction. I was thrilled since I'd been trying to handle it through the "proper channels" for almost a month. A couple of weeks later I saw the same MAA put on the RPF. I don't know if it had anything to do with my situation, but it always bugged me that helping me might have been what did it.

I have so many screwy things that happened while I was at Flag but I know if I give specifics then it will be easy for people who I don't want to know who I am to figure out my identity.

I can agree with you about all the things that went screwy, and if things had been done differently maybe it would have been a great experience to train at Flag. But I'm at a point now that although I can admit that there were valuable things I experienced and learned while in the church, the thought of formally using any Scientology tech puts a bad taste in my mouth. I know that there are lots of people that continue to use the tech outside of the church, but I don't ever see myself as being one of them. I do respect their decision though.

That's cool that there used to be those who would try to keep students off of work study. I don't think I would even have minded doing it so much, if I felt like it was fair and dignified. But I felt taken advantage of and abused, and no one who was in charge would ever acknowledge that I could possibly validly feel that way.
One of the other things that happened, more recently...

The post I ended up getting meant that I had a big responsibility to get new trainees to Flag for whatever the next evolution was. I was never able to convince anyone to go. Our trainees always ended up being recruited by someone else. It was like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I got someone to go to Flag, I felt like I'd be committing an overt because I really didn't think well of the OOT program and didn't want to be responsible for someone else going through what I went through, but if I didn't get anyone to go I was committing an overt because I wasn't doing my job and I was keeping the org from expanding. I actually had several situations on staff where it was: screwed if you do, screwed if you don't.

I even got into session just to try to handle my charge on Flag (they wanted me to go back for another evolution at one point), but after that I still felt the same way about the place. There's no way in hell I would have ever gone back. And no way I could bring myself to talk someone else into going. I mean, I could PR my way through it when someone just casually asked how it was to train at Flag (since, as Emma so succintly stated, what happens at Flag stays at Flag), but convincing someone to go was beyond my capabilities as a con artist.
So, more about the Outer Org Trainee program...

One thing I have to say, I did have some great Supervisors there. Some of them were the most caring, dedicated, intelligent people. If not for that I probably would have blown after the first month. (Although something funny... at one point while I was there, the Supervisor who was in charge of the courseroom where the Student Hat Course was done, didn't speak English.)

Some other little things...

Events while we were at Flag were horrible. We would have to end course early (while being told that we'd have to make up for the lost stats) and all go to wherever the event was being held.

We would have all been drilled to sell some new release, and given some outrageous quota. After the event we would be directed to go sell, sell, sell, and would have CMO OOTs watching us to make sure that we were trying to sell, sell, sell. We would be forced to call friends and family at home to try to talk them into buying whatever. They would always tell us we wouldn't be allowed to leave to go back to our rooms until we met the quota, which we never did.

So we'd end up staying at the Fort Harrison or wherever until about midnight, wandering around in the nasty humidity, pretending to try to sell these things to non-existent public (since all the public would realize that they had to duck and run if they didn't want to be swarmed by desparate OOTs.) Finally, we'd be allowed to go.

When an event was held on a Friday, they would often take away our Saturday morning time (that was the only time off we'd have to do laundry, clean our rooms, go shopping, etc.) and start course early. If the event had been on a Saturday, well everyone would just be really tired on course the next day. Which ticked me off since I always thought that us being well-rested on course should be more important to them than selling some lecture, but it wasn't.

I was always confused at their priorities. I remember reading someone's post on OCMB about a time when they had to eat in the CB, the Clearwater Building where all the Flag staff and OOTs ate, and they were disgusted by the way everyone was lacking in manners and eating like pigs. Well, what would happen is we were always having musters. Before dinner was the worst one. We were supposed to have a twenty minute muster and then half an hour for meals. But more often than not the MAA or Deputy Captain would get to ranting about something and by the time they were done we had 10-20 minutes left to go get food, eat, and be back in the courseroom across the street. You lose your manners a little when you are under that kind of pressure.

It probably took me a couple of months, once I got back from Flag, to stop inhaling my food. People would stare at me because I would finish a whole meal in maybe five minutes. Finally I forced myself to slow down, I would have to keep telling myself that I had time to eat.

Everything at Flag was hurry, run! We were told that we weren't to walk, we had to run! (Excepting of course, when we were going out on the streets. Didn't want someone like Shawn Lonsdale recording our mad dashing everywhere.)

Another scary thing was ISO (pronounced eye-sew) which was short for ISOLATION. It was the place everyone went when they got sick. I never went, but I had friends who were in there several times and the stories I heard made me sure I never wanted to be there. They had two rooms, one for each gender, and matresses on the floor, lots of sick people, and old cold food. Once you went there you had to stay until you got better. There was nothing to do all day, they didn't allow books or anything. I knew if I went it would drive me completely nuts.

Getting out of ISO was difficult, you had to get approval from the MLO and then go through the whole ethics PTS handling thing. Which took forever in itself. There were a couple of times when I had a cold, and hid it so I didn't have to go. If I'd been caught I probably would have been charged with a suppressive act, since you were supposed to report to the MLO as soon as you thought you might be sick. But I would just tell everyone that I had allergies. I know there were a couple of people who didn't believe me, but they couldn't prove I was sick and there was no way I was going to be stuck in that place if I could help it. Not to mention, it meant I would be stuck at Flag for a few more weeks, which I certainly didn't want.

Wow, it feels great to be able to write about this stuff. I of course couldn't talk about it to most people. Anytime I would talk about it with any of my Scientologist friends their attitude would be, "You must have lots of overts on Flag..." Well, let me tell you, I had a huge Sec Check, tons of auditing, and I STILL HATE FLAG!! It is an awful place. No matter how anyone tries to justify it, it is horrible. Inhumane. Insane.

Anyone out there who has a friend or relative who is going to be going there to do training, please warn them that it is not a friendly or happy place. Tell them to ask others who have been there about work study, ethics, events, ISO, etc. They might not be able to get any info out of anyone, but who knows? Once they get there you'll never have another chance. You most likely won't be able to call them, and any letters you write will be monitored by the Flag Ethics personnel.

So I think those are my main hang-ups with Flag. It's sure nice to be able to get it out of my system.

You know, I just though of something else that happened while I was at Flag that was kind of weird.

The outer org trainees used to be commandeered by Gold to use as "props" when they would shoot different promo pieces. Sometimes they would take only a few people, and sometimes they would make all the trainees do it. Since we didn't exactly have a lot of free time, they would often do it during our cleaning time, and usually it would run into our lunch or dinner time.

That used to piss me off no end.

They would make us pose for photos, everyone of course plastering on fake smiles and looking especially enthusiastic. (Look at us, how exhilarated we are to be at Flag! We're not going to have any time to eat, and our Metering Course Supervisors are all going to be really upset at us, but yay! We're at Flag! We haven't seen our families for months or years but it's so wonderful to just be here in the mecca of perfection! No really, we're happy. Honest!)

Sometimes we would do films and pretend we were public, blissfully hanging out in the lobby of the Sandcastle (where the OT levels are delivered) or we would be at the Fort Harrison, purposefully striding our way to somewhere through the lobby/HGC waiting area/LRH display area. It was completely choreographed and fake. When they were taking a large group shot, they would pick out the more attractive people and ask them to stand at the front. This was one time that I was grateful that I wasn't considered especially attractive. I remember one time sneaking out the back over to the CB where lunch was served. I was a little afraid that I would get caught and be in trouble, but no one noticed. Whew! I really hated missing meals.

Anyway, just something I was thinking about and thought I'd share.

Here's my great blow story:

After having my training line-up changed against my will, and then finishing it and then being told it was being changed again and I would have to stay even longer, I decided I was out of there.

When I blew I had purchased a plane ticket the day before, my biggest worry was getting away without anyone seeing me. I knew a guy who had tried to blow but they'd figured out he was missing and found him at the airport and stopped him. It was after 9/11 so I knew that once I got past security no one would be able to follow me unless they had a boarding pass, but I was a little paranoid about them having a contact at the airport who could stop me.

So I had also been scoping out the public transportation buses and their schedules. There was a bus stop in front of a little restaurant next to the motel that some of the SO staff stayed at. There was also a payphone about 2 yards from the stop that OOTs sometimes called home on. So that morning I packed my work study duffel bag as full as I dared, and took the OOT shuttlebus to the CB. I walked down to the payphone, trying to look innocent. I pretended to talk on the phone until just as I saw the bus pulling up, then hung up, walked over to the stop, and jumped on. I checked over my shoulder and didn't see anyone watching. Yay! I took the bus as far as I could, then got out and called a cab to take me to the airport.

I got there about four hours early, which had made me nervous but I knew it would have been harder to get off the base later in the day. Luckily they had an earlier flight that had some open seats and asked if I'd like to take that one instead. I was so relieved that I wouldn't have to be on the look out for four hours. Of course, my layover in New York was then about four hours longer, but I didn't care. I was just happy to have escaped!

That was one of the most terrifying yet exhilarating days of my life...


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