Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Been Away So Long I Hardly Knew the Place - Dispatches from Days 40-42 as an Escort at a Women's Clinic

(Escort names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Opinions below are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of the leaders who run our team. In other words, if you have an issue with something I've written, talk to me. Absolutely feel free to share. Links to previous entries in this series: Start here with Day 1. Day 2. Day 3. Day 4. Day 5. Day 6. Day 7. Day 8. Days 9/10/11. Day 12. Day 13.  Day 14. Days 15/16. Day 17. Days 18/19/20. Days 21/22/23Days 24-31. Day 32. Day 33Days 34-35. Days 36-39. )

(This time the long delay between posts wasn't my fault this time! Blame the virus! Our leaders made the right decision to stay away for a while, much as it hurt to leave the sidewalk undefended. As always, thanks for reading and please feel encouraged to share - Kit)

(Day 40)
"While these deathscorts weren't around we saved a child from being murdered here. I know it's not right to say but in that way COVID-19 has been a blessing."

I am constantly asked if I make up any of the things the protesters say and I can assure you that I don't.

Not even this one. 150K+ dead but sure, it's a good thing.

It feels weird to be back out on the sidewalk, close to four months since we chose to stop due to the pandemic and our unwillingness to expose the escorts to possible exposure. That's a legit concern since maybe two out of the fifteen or so protesters here today have bothered to wear masks, which is why we've limited this trial balloon of a shift to team leaders only. We're not messing around either, as evidenced by the following (disclaimer - since I wouldn't want to be guilty of the 'fAke NeWs' the protesters groundlessly accuse me of I must point out that the picture is from my most recent shift [Day 42] but features the same PPE):
You might think that since they're not bothering to wear masks the protesters would do their best to social distance from the patients but no, it's business as usual for them. This forces us to shift up our tactics a bit - our original plan was to spread out and guide the patients in from afar, but it quickly becomes obvious that the protesters have no qualms about behaving like parasites and so we become, by necessity, a bit more pro-active. I guess being 'pro-life' doesn't preclude being a vector for a highly infectious virus.

A weird thing is that the protesters seem almost pleased that we're back out here, given the endless chirping of brainwashed mumbles emanating from the Mean Girls that are clearly intended to make us feel shame or something. When I'm reminded that Satan is my father it almost feels like a homecoming, if my home was a place filled with controlling misogynists spouting an endless torrent of lies.

"Let's talk about Adam and Eve in the Garden and what they did wrong."

If only PPE covered the ears as well.

* * *

(Day 42)
"Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow? There's power in the blood, power in the blood!"

I'm not sure, but I think they're trying to recruit vampires.

The above is being sung by an older guy with a thick Germanic accent, which is giving me a real Franz Liebkind vibe (it's from a movie called The Producers, kids. Go watch the 1967 version, thank me later). The screamers haven't started up yet on this grossly humid morning and our erstwhile songbird is belting out tunes with a dirge-like intonation. 

"ARE you ready, ARE you ready, ARE you ready for the judgement day?"

I'm struck, yet again, by how miserable the religion of this cult offshoot appears to be. Unless it's a joy focused on glorifying their god, it's taboo. Combined with the vision of Heaven they've presented me with, which is pretty much about continuing to do the same worship and praising that they do now but on a different plane of existence, it seems so . . . bleak and colorless. Do the Mean Girls even know what they're missing in life, or aware of what they'll be subjected to as future brood mares within this sect? Sure, they're allowed to harangue me on the side, but aren't they curious as to why they aren't allowed to take the microphone as well? It's depressing to witness.

"I will cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it some day for a crown."
::stops singing::
"Yes, and the reason we have this coronavirus is because of abortions!"

I've been polite and quiet during his concert, even respectful, but at this I burst into laughter. How can I not? Their disconnect with reality is too much to take sometimes, and while I felt no compulsion to interrupt his singing I'm not about to allow bullshit like that to go unchecked. Problem is, I can't stop laughing because it's just so absurd. 

He's not pleased. "You laugh now, but he who laughs last is the last one laughing."

It is *really* difficult to wipe away tears through a face shield.

* * *

(Day 41)
"Yes, I will spit on you! You deserve to be spit on!"

Love thy neighbor, indeed.

One of the many nice things about the buffer zone is that if I stand with my back against the building wall on a diagonal from the current screamer it puts about six feet or so between us. It helps to lessen the impact of their 80-90 db rants and, in the case of The Stepson, keeps me out of his spittle range. And ye gods, there's spittle.

The Stepson is probably either in his late teens or early twenties, a volatile combination of youthful arrogance, religiously-induced ignorance, and what must be overwhelming sexual frustration. He channels all of these things into his unhinged screaming, which usually equals or surpasses the lunacy offered up by Luis - no mean feat. He's big on repetition and sweeping arm gestures, which caused him to both hit and expectorate on Dee Dee the previous week. Both were unintentional, but as evidenced to his above response to my request that he try not to spit on me, he doesn't care. He had also tried to wave away hitting Dee Dee saying, "It doesn't matter that I touched you." Given the way women in their cult are treated it's hardly surprising that he has that dismissive attitude.

I'm not interested in either getting hit or spit on. "Can you take an extra step back? You're not even wearing a mask."

(I'd like to digress for a moment to mention that the Englewood Department of Health sent an employee out this morning with a box full of N95 masks to basically beg the protesters to wear them and that, upon spotting him, Luis promptly freaked out and ran across the street to confront him while waving a finger at the others to keep them from putting them on. Luis isn't only anti-mask, he's anti-hand sanitizer as well. Yeah, I don't know either.)

This earns me a look of contempt. "God holds my breath in his hands."

What does one say to that? Should mention that his god might not want him to spread disease to his other creatures? That he shouldn't play god himself? It would all fall on deaf ears, which reminds me to put in my earplugs and he starts shouting. At least I'm out of the splash zone.

* * *

(Day 42)
"Has it ever occurred to you that other people might consider you calling them 'murderers' offensive as well?"

The police are here for their second visit this morning. 

We didn't call them either time.

Today's shift has been, in the most scientifically accurate terms available, coo coo for cocoa puffs. Part of it could be because of the temperature - it's already in the mid-eighties and humid AF by the time we take our positions - but maybe it's just because the protesters are who they are. I mean, I don't even know where to start with trying to recap today. The cops, I guess?

Police #1 - Dee Dee and Marillion are trying to escort a patient through the screaming lunatics, who of course are neither respecting distancing nor, for the most part, wearing masks. At the chokepoint created by a streetlight pole and a planter both Alex and Marillion go for the same spot and bump into each other. Marillion keeps going while Alex stops and begins to scream bloody murder. Claims he's going to call the cops, which we dismiss because there's no way he could be serious.

Turns out he *is* serious and the police show up deal with his complaint of being hit by Marillion, who stands an even five feet tall and weighs maybe a hundred pounds, if that. The police are not invested in this and after a little while tell us all to behave before leaving. I burst into laughter as Alex stalks by me. Marillion is immediately renamed 'Bruiser' and long may she reign as the Terror of the Sidewalks.

Uber driver - A SUV pulls up by the front and discharges a patient. The driver is descended on by the Mean Girls, who launch into their usual you're-as-bad-as-the-patient-is schtick. The driver tells them that she doesn't believe in abortion but she's an Uber driver and needs to be able to put food on the table, so here she is. 

This proves an unsatisfactory response for the Mean Girls, who redouble their efforts. When the driver protests that she's a Muslim the claws REALLY come out as their misplaced sense of superiority takes over and they switch from shaming to converting.

When she drops off someone else later they're even more livid. Hell, fury, scorned, etc.

UFC Fighter: After earlier attempts to engage me in conversation prove fruitless Alex begins to ask me about my UFC career - what's my record, have I lost recently, did I tap out, etc. He's fairly insistent that I'm a fighter, which is both flattering and bewildering.

I have absolutely no idea what he's talking about - maybe he only read the title of my last post instead of the recap itself and drew the wrong conclusion? I mean, FFS, I'm 52 years old, which is a little beyond the optimal age to compete in bare-handed gladiatorial combat, but it's tempting to create a career for him on the spot. Alas, despite their instance that I am fake news (and never taking me up on my offer to show me exactly what I've allegedly lied about in these posts) I do not do so, merely continuing to ignore him.

Allow me to bare my soul here, Alex - I do not now nor have I ever fought in the UFC. My nose has been broken before, sure, but not in the octagon. Those folks are crazy.

Police #2: The protesters manage to tick off the wrong guy, an absolutely huge dude who is incensed by the time he gets his now-weeping SO inside the clinic. I try to calm him down a bit and he assures me he's fine, but when he comes back outside he starts screaming at the protesters. Loudly.

They do not care this and scatter (except for Scrubs, who is a good foot shorter than the guy, but he gets pretty much ignored). Big Guy keeps up the bellowing and strangely enough it turns out the protesters don't like to be on the receiving end of shaming, as opposed to being the ones dealing it out. For a good ten minutes they go back and forth, and while it wouldn't be fair to say Parker runs away from him he does move with a bit of alacrity to a spot up the street a good sixty feet away and stays oddly quiet. When Luis breaks off and heads across the street the Big Guy follows him, engendering panic among the others and invoking the second call to the police. This time three cruisers show up to find a scene devoid of any confrontation. Luis comes back and soon after so does the Big Guy. There's lots of talking, some yelling, but nothing much happens. The protesters are upset about the language he used and claiming that they were offended (Parker and his wife brought their toddler here for the morning, earning them early votes for Parents of the Year), and there's a considerable amount of pouting when the officer offers up the quote that started this section. Apropos of nothing, Alex tells the cops that the deathscorts want them to be defunded. It does not appear to have the effect he's hoping for.

I wander over to the Big Guy as things settle down. He says that he crossed the street because Luis told him he was going to preach by the Big Guy's car in that passive-aggressive way he has of baiting people, which didn't happen as Luis ducked into the bus stop shelter when he saw he was being followed. Does it sound like something Luis would say? Absolutely, but as I didn't hear it myself I can't comment on the veracity of the Big Guy's account.

I wouldn't bet against it being truth, though.

And finally: It's near the end of the shift and we're all wilting under the intense heat and humidity. A woman the protesters appear to know pulls up in a pickup truck and gives them a few boxes of ice pops, which they devour with relish. Not long after that a guy in a car stops in the middle of the road and calls to them.

"You're all warriors (or something like that, it was hard to hear). Let's do the Lord's Prayer."

And so they do. Afterward he drives off and they protesters are excited, happy that instead of the usual middle finger they get from passing cars they've had a moment. The car behind him creeps forward as a young woman leans out the window.

"I think you're all assholes and I hate you. Fuck you!"

Mean streets, indeed.

Stay safe out there.