Friday, September 27, 2019

Hey La, Hey La, My Buffer's Back! Dispatches from Day 33 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. )

"So, why do you support a pedophile?"

Sometimes not being allowed to respond to protesters is a feature, not a bug.

Our buffer zone is back (for now) and I hadn't realized how much I missed it. Standing inside the yellow-lined semi-circles which bracket the doors once again was made possible by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by reversing the previous ruling. This is by no means over - it's likely that The Runner and her rabidly anti-choice lawyer will continue to fight tooth and nail to the bitter end - but for now the half-circle of peace and sanity is back.

The return of the buffer means that escorts within it have to keep their political and religious feelings to themselves - in other words, Kit needs to shut up. We're wearing pink vests instead of our rainbow ones and my Pride flag stays in the center console of my truck. I'll miss the both the fashion and the versatility of the cape, but since being here isn't about me it's a pretty great trade-off.

"Hey, you know, I believe in climate change now! I do. Don't you want to know why?"

Have I mentioned how much we love having the buffer zone back?

This is not to say it's transformed the area outside the clinic into a hassle-free zone - the protesters have a large turnout today and the sidewalk beyond the lines of yellow paint (and one hastily scribbled chalk line) is crowded. While they're not allowed to preach, demean, harass, or shame within the buffer they are allowed to pass through. Parker makes a production out of it, slowing to a glacial pace and once pausing to ::shudder:: shake his rear in what I assume to be what he considers an act of defiance. I (semi)politely ask Hinton to move his sign when he sets it down just inside the the line while taking his turn as a screamer, and multiple times I'm forced I to shoo a woman in a long skirt who, horror of horrors, appears to be fashioning herself as a protege of The Runner. Ye gods, nobody wants that.

Speaking of, the fleet non-respecter of both personal space and the phrase 'please leave me alone' isn't putting so much as a single manicured toenail within the buffer. No doubt operating under strict orders from her lawyer, she avoids it as if she's playing The Floor is Lava game, screeching to a halt at the zone's edge. She won't pass through it at all, choosing to get around it by looping out through the handicapped parking space in the street instead. When she's not busy trying to make people take plastic fetus keychains she's jabbering into her phone, glaring at the buffer zone with what one would assume to be burning hatred.

"Hey! Fake News! Are you on Epstein's list?"

I turn away, shaking my head. Ridiculous questions can die lonely deaths outside the yellow lines.

* * *

"'Mommy! Please don't take me to this murder mill on Death Row! Please, Mommy!' That's what a baby in the womb would be saying if he or she could speak."

Yeah, Parker is getting extra weird this morning. 

It doesn't take very many shifts on the sidewalk for one to realize the protesters will say anything and everything that occurs to them. Some are planned approaches that have been honed and polished, either in practice sessions or through repeated usage out here: The Runner referring to patients as 'Mom;' Parker giving out ridiculously inaccurate fetal development timelines; Alex and his semantic games; and so on. You do your best to tune them out and not let them get to you.

"Mommy! Give me life, Mommy, don't take me in there past these deathscorts to be ripped to pieces! I'll be good!"

Part of me wonders, as I stand in the buffer zone listening to a grown man who bears more than a passing resemblance to Sgt. Schultz from Hogan's Heroes pretend to be a 'womb-baby,' if I should be horrified by this behavior. It's difficult to get beyond the utter absurdity of hearing rhetorical commentary from an imaginary ball of cells having a pretend conversation with its host, but at the same time it's quite disturbing to think that someone thought about this approach, considered it a good idea, and took the time to suss out some sort of script. 'Pleading Zygote' does not feel like off-the-cuff improv.

Parker has much more to say in this role but most is lost to the wind as we have a rush of incoming patients. You'll just have to imagine the rest yourself.

Or don't.

You'll be happier if you don't.

* * *

"I want to talk to the young woman who went inside this factory of death before!"

Angry Grandpa's obsession with youthful women may not be the creepiest thing about him, but - 

No, wait, it is. There's other stuff as well, to be sure, but his focus on that particular age bracket engenders its own level of ickiness. He's becoming more of a fixture lately, an unwelcome addition to the unwanted menagerie. Given his glasses and pornstache he's been tagged with 'Groucho,' but I find it difficult to besmirch a great comedian's name like that. I've mentioned Angry Grandpa in passing before, noting his predilection to pepper most of his interactions with a healthy dose of 'sweetie' and 'honey.' It's easy to discern that he finds himself quite witty, and as some sort of karmic retribution for something I did wrong during some existence in my past we're being treated to him on the mike today. Oh, joy.

This is not to say we haven't already gotten wayyy too much info from him this morning. Our Lady of the Theater has spent a good ninety minutes engaging the protesters and while most of the interactions are barbed Angry Grandpa seems quite happy to brag about his life before he 'found God and became humble.'

"In the 70's I smoked pot! In the 80's I did coke! And women, well, I did really well with the ladies, let me tell you!"

Gah. Evidently he was quite the rapscallion who lived a hedonistic existence until ::GASP:: he realized his wicked ways and turned to God for redemption. How very convenient for him that his redemption came *after* he'd spent decades doing everything he wanted, free of judgment. No doubt the timing had nothing to do with advancing age and fear of divine retribution drawing nigh.

His turn on the speaker is unremarkable except for the disturbing focus on young women, be they patient, companion, or escort. He keeps beseeching one who went inside earlier to come out and talk with him, reinforcing the fact that they have never believed us when we tell them that they are an unintelligible drone at best in the waiting room. What do we know anyway, we're all just godless heathen deathscorts.

Having tuned him out, it takes me a moment or two to realize when he's finished. Handing the speaker off to someone else, he takes a moment to look around before proclaiming to nobody in particular, "I was great!"

Guess he's still working on the 'humble' thing.

* * *

"I'm not here to judge you. We're not here to judge you. None of us are going to judge you."

Do you get a discount if you buy your cognitive dissonance in bulk?

I'm doing slow twirls within the buffer zone, arms extended as I savor the empty space, not paying much attention to the current screamer. It's late in the morning and a quick consult with the guards has let me know that almost all of the scheduled patients have already arrived. The protesters have more or less settled into ragged clumps of conversation, occasionally remembering to brandish their signs with a notable lack of vigor. The Runner is still prowling about with her protege, while Q-Tip stands on the far corner extolling the virtues of Jesus to passing cars. A tall, skinny kid hovers along the the yellow line, mumbling something at me during pauses in the current oratory that I can't quite make out. I'm okay with that.

No dramatic ending awaits on this day, no great story to tell. It's just another shift on another Saturday, another display of bravery and kindness from my fellow escorts in the face of intolerance and hatred.

Speaking of . . .

As far as the screamers go, this part of the morning is more or less a dumping zone for the less-polished to be given time on the amp. The guy - of course it's a guy - on there now is so unremarkable he hasn't even earned a nickname yet, a short dude given to scowls and stares. His delivery included lots of pauses that are meant to be poignant, I suppose, but instead keep making us wonder if he's done or not. Right now he's focused on Aimee, who has worked the door the entire morning with nary a complaint. Looking in his direction has given him what he supposes is an opening.

"Again, I'm not going to judge you." Pause. "You're a sinner, you lead a wicked life, and the choices you make mean you're going to hell."

No comment.

May all your days contain some sort of buffer zone.