This is the sixth installment of the account of a journey into and out of scientology — written by one of our long-term readers. I hope you enjoy her insights, humor and style.
Lili also provided a glossary of terms.
Through the Bubble – Lili’s Adventures in Scientologyland
This is my quirky recollection of events. Others may remember things differently. Lingo is italicized on the first mention, capitalized after that. I’ve compressed complexities in the cult to simplify your reading pleasure.
Marriage is Good for Scientology, Divorce is Good for Scientology
Once I got over my weepy victimhood of my cratered relationship with Josh, I took Responsibility for doing such a crap job at planning ahead for my future guarantee of love. I responded to the offers of dates from eligible male Scientologists.
I digress, but Scientology loves it when people get married. Therefore, my earlier life pronouncements that I’d never get married were Scientologically excised, along with my ability to consult my true feelings on any subject. For the record, I like being married.
The reason I think married couples are so favored in Scientology is based on my observations. I witnessed a number of married couples who joined Scientology and blew apart like Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Russia. The gung-ho, Bridge-to-Total-Freedom-loving member of the marriage would get busy spending the couple’s mutual retirement savings on spiritual improvement steps. Because nothing says enlightenment like paying for your next step toward becoming a God on earth. That was part of the deal and why we didn’t need God’s help. You see trillions of years ago, in a galaxy far, far, away… Wait, I’m confusing the Scientology cosmology with Star Wars. Never mind.
The not-feelin’-it member of the marriage perhaps observed the mutual retirement nest egg vaporizing at the urging of the Registrar and thought that was kind of whack. The not-feelin’-member of the marriage may have objected to the whole Auditing of invisible demons or whatever they thought their Scientology-obsessed spouse was up to. This would lead to the inevitable divorce. But good news for the cherch, they had to sell the house and split their remaining assets.
The Scientology-dedicated spouse would Disconnect from their dream-killing, Suppressive Person spouse. The Suppressive Person is the big bad ogre, who covertly undermines you or plans to kill Scientology because Scientology is changing the world for the better. Cough. Can’t have that. The Scientology-dedicated spouse would hire a lawyer, and impoverish that son-of-a bitch spouse. This left the super-enthusiastic-ex-spouse to advance unfettered, ever higher on their super-power acquiring, Bridge to Total Freedom. Ka-ching to Scientology.
The broken promises at the top of the Bridge to Total Freedom aren’t too much of a problem for Scientology. Because you just divorced the person you built a life and goals with, who tried to protect you from the bad ideas of the world because they loved you. Once you’re divorced and at the top of the Bridge, you’re out of money, and you’re sure not going to admit you were wrong. Your head might explode or something.
You remove all the mirrors from your shitty apartment, so you don’t have to look at your misled self. Then you go find someone else inside the Scientology bubble who will make sure you can cover the electricity bill next month. Because your spiritual skills, up at the top of the Bridge, are pretty much confined to turning traffic lights green and finding decent parking spots in downtown LA. That’s a joke.
The other plus to married people in Scientology is that even if one spouse becomes a not-feelin’-it-spouse, they still love their unfortunately-gullible spouse. They put up with the borrowing, the crazy Course Scheduling, and the general misery of sharing the one you love with a bad idea.
And bonus, if the not-into-it-spouse isn’t Participating, (contributing to the forward motion of Scientology) they can be coerced to donate to the Planetary Clearing Program. This ensures that they’re still on-board. Scientology will throw them into Ethics if the not-into-it spouse doesn’t toe the line. If that doesn’t change their wandering steps, the threat of Disconnection will.
Back to my change in dating status. When Josh quit being the focus of my adoration, it was a time in Scientology when there were more single males than single females. Scientology seemed to attract men with their pseudo-scientific take on enlightenment. If you were allergic to woo, Scientology had a Communication Drill for you. Spiritual ascension by the numbers, that’s the ticket.
Then there were the guys who couldn’t talk to girls. It was ruining their lives. They coughed-up quick for that Communication Course. They Drilled with laser-minded ferocity, in order to gain the skill of communicating with anyone, any time, on any subject. In theory. And now, at least one of them wanted to date me.
Ice to the Crotch and the Big Tip
As a newly single person, I took stock of my life and decided to ditch the house cleaning gigs. I was a people person, and spending all day in pretty houses alone, was lonely. But being in debt and all, I needed to get the new job first, before I left everyone in the lurch. Actually, I knew someone who’d take many of my jobs, so yeah, not a complete Hat dump. Yet another word Scientology feels they own the patent on. Hat is like your job, job title, and job description all rolled into one. Like Fireman, Police Officer, or Medical Marijuana Tester. By the way, the person who wears that last Hat gets paid more than a Scientology Staff Member, including time they spend snoozing with Cheetos dust on their chest.
A fun-loving single Scientologist lived near me, and we’d carpool to evening Course time together. I soon found out that she waitressed and loved it. She used what she’d learned in Scientology to get bigger tips. Yep, them Communication Drills were the gift that kept on giving.
I asked if she’d train me to be a waitress, waiter, or waitron. I wasn’t clear on the gender politics connected to that food-service Hat title. “Sure thing, Lili.” She worked the graveyard shifts, which sucked, but she liked that drunks could be great tippers. Hell, sometimes they’d leave their wallets behind, but she’s all ethical now, so she’d give it back after making them wait a day and get a big reward. “Isn’t that a transgression of some type?” “They’re hungover. They need a day to recover and realize the damn thing is missing.” Okaaaaay.
I shadowed my friend and wore the frilly apron uniform. Soon I could take orders, sell add-on appetizers, and deliver six entrees to the correct patrons. The restaurant manager who disapproved of my unsanctioned training, would scowl at me while bogarting her cigarette in the three-table smoking section. I remembered how to put on the charm offensive from my hitchhiking days, and my friend got great tips off my efforts. Yay. I think. I filled out an application because I’d memorized the menu, and it was easy. And I was lazy?
One day after the manager acted like she wouldn’t hire me if Tom Cruise came in and did a soliloquy about my skills, she called. Someone was sick. Did I want the shift? Hmm, let me see. Of course I wanted the shift. Soon, I was full-time, pockets jingling as I jogged around my six-table station. Day shifts were okay, but dinner shifts were tip bonanzas. Unfortunately, I got a lot of day shifts. And graveyards.
One day six guys from my old High School’s football team came in, loud, laughing, and keyed up after practice. Their thirst was bottomless. They shouted for more water, pounded it down, and wanted refills. I hustled back to the ice freezer, topped up my pitcher with water, spun around, and headed back to their table. I poured and poured and got to the last guy. By this time, there was more ice left than water. In a glacier breaks off the ice shelf moment, all the ice chunked forward, jumped the pitcher’s plastic barrier, overshot the guy’s glass, and landed on his crotch.
His teammates fell onto each other, paralytic with laughter. Their roars caused everyone in the restaurant to wonder why those guys were having all the fun. I was snort/honking. The manager hustled over, eyes squinting, perhaps planning to fire me on the spot. The guys told her it wasn’t my fault. She glowered my way until her need for nicotine sent her scuttling back to the smoking section. The team left me a prodigious tip.
Jim Bob, Stalking and Breaking the Sex Barrier
Three times a week, the same single guy would show up in my station. He was talkative, friendly, a big tipper, and way too old for me. But tips. I’d chat him up, suggest new dishes for him to try, and hope he didn’t ask me out. I found out from the hostess that sometimes he’d wait fifteen minutes to be seated in my station. This was getting weird. I asked her not to sit him in my station anymore. But, he was a big tipper. The hostess wouldn’t look at me a couple days later as she led him to a table in my station. I wasn’t so smiley.
He introduced himself as Jim Bob and said he’d been watching me. I compressed my lips and tapped my pen on the order book. He said he was looking for someone special. My shoulders rolled forward. Sorry Margs. I was trying to find the words to get him to stop coming around when he surprised me.
“I’m looking for a special person to come work for me in sales. You seem to have a talent. I’ve found other wonderful employees working at restaurants. My interest is purely professional.”
“What kind of sales?”
“Household cleaning products with a well-known and respected company.”
I looked around, and none of my tables needed me, so I nodded.
“We’ve traditionally hired men, but I’d like you to help me break the sex barrier. You’d be the first female West of the Mississippi to work for the company.”
Well, who doesn’t want to break the sex barrier? Gloria Steinem was big in Unitarian circles and greatly admired at the commune for her bold talk on equality and women’s rights. My eyes lit up. I could do something meaningful. More meaningful than scrubbing toilets or waiting on drunks who tipped well.
That was my introduction to door-to-door sales with the Fuller Brush Company.
Mentoring, Punchbowls of Cash, and Door-to-Door Sales
Jim Bob still creeped me out, but the company was legit. I tried the sample products he gave me on the couple of housecleaning jobs I’d kept and they were superior. Jim Bob didn’t want to blow it with me, so he took me to a sales meeting at his boss, the area manager’s house. Paul Finch saw potential and took me under his wise wing. He trained me, had me shadow his best salesman and sat me down to tell me how to succeed in the proud door-to-door sales tradition. He wanted me to know that selling door-to-door was a skill and not something to be looked down upon.
“Treat this like a 9 to 5 job,” he said. “Keep good records, put in the time and you’ll out earn most of the people you know.” I found out that the other Fuller Brush salesmen were not working full days, but still paid their rent. I wondered how much I could make if I worked the schedule Paul suggested. At the next sales meeting he urged all the men and me to put a five-dollar bill into a hideous pink punchbowl. The highest sales in the next two-week campaign, would get the lot. His curt nod in my direction, made me suppress a grin.
At the following sales meeting, the punchbowl had forty dollars in it. I got it. That fired up the troops who were blindsided. Paul’s bland expression hid his pleasure. The next month’s punchbowl had fifty dollars in it. Guys came out of the woodwork to challenge the upstart. The girl. I swept the field. The punchbowl yielded less and less in the following campaigns, but I took it home every time. Paul speculated that if he threw down a challenge, I’d bite. He came up with one gold ring after another, and each time, I rose in the sunlight to grasp my prize.
I didn’t just like the prizes, I liked Paul. He was tall like my Dad and had this jutting angular face that’d never grace a corporate annual report. I’d never had a friend like the gawky, Ichabod Crane of a manager. He had a warmth that made me want to please him. I’d work an extra day just for his smile. I grew to love him. And as an older, childless, man, I saw in his wordless affection, a return of my regard. Paul was married. She was tacky, loud, and demanding. He was sweet, patient, and observing. I wished he had a nicer wife and did my best to bring him happiness.
Getting the Scientology MBA
The Registrar made an appointment with me to chat about my finances. Woo hoo, I was the only eighteen-year-old I knew grooming my credit score for future borrowing. While I was testing driving being in charge of my financial future, she introduced me to a Scientology Executive Course. L Ron Hubbard had invented/introduced this administrative organizing system (Admin Tech) that he claimed was used in a galactic civilization trillions of years ago. But LRH had improved on it so our society wouldn’t implode, like that one did. The Bulletins with L Ron Hubbard’s Admin Tech filled the tall and wide green volumes in the bookcase behind the Registrar’s desk.
The Registrar informed me that organizations and businesses failed all the time because they lacked L Ron Hubbard’s key Admin Tech policies. She took me into a windowless room by the staircase. The walls were covered in graph paper, filled with bewildering Statistics, (Stats) labeled with arcane acronyms. The Registrar said that each graph measured the productivity of different divisions and departments in our local Scientology Center.
The Registrar assured me that these Statistics could pinpoint a problem before it became a disaster. I was impressed. She lowered her voice and nodded her head, “If you learn which Statistics matter in whatever business you turn your hand to, and focus on raising those key metrics, you’ll be successful.” This was serious adult talk. I straightened my back. But there was more. She spoke with a slower cadence, I Ieaned forward. “This valuable LRH Admin Tech is applied around the world to run Scientology’s massive influence machine. It’s also utilized by savvy Scientologist business owners, and taught by Scientologist Consultants to Fortune 500 companies.” She named names. I wowed.
L Ron Hubbard’s incredible gift of Admin Tech would put me at Cause in my business. LRH loved to turn verbs into nouns. I guess he thought he was Cause over language. By Cause, the Registrar meant I’d be in control. And if I worked productively, I’d have high morale. L Ron Hubbard said, “Production is the Basis of Morale.” It was a favorite LRH quote of hers. Like a magic wand for happiness. Feeling blah? Go to work. You’ll be happier. Someone died and you’re sad? Go to work. You’ll feel better. Wow, the key to happiness. Work. Who knew?
The Registrar’s face glowed with fervor. She’d hit her stride and I just let her gallop on. She said this Executive Course was like getting a Scientology MBA. Yay, now I really didn’t need to go to college. Oh boy, I could learn to be The Man; hire people, and make money off them. Jesus-Man’s brother would pop an eyeball.
After studying all the woo about the mind, which I believed, but was kind of exhausting, I found reading L Ron Hubbard’s pronouncements about business and organizing restful. I knew so little about administering a business, that I didn’t have regular bouts of cognitive dissonance; kind of like indigestion of the mind. Going into the Course Room was easier than it had ever been before. This was a good thing, because life outside the course room was getting quite lively.