Thursday, November 14, 2019

When the Bar Goes So Low It's Almost Underground - Dispatches from Days 34-35 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 33)

(YES I know I previously said I'd get recaps out more quickly by doing them after each session regardless of length and YES that was my intention and YES I know that this one has two days crammed into it and YES that wasn't my intention but life can be busy sometimes and YES I know I'm blessed with readers who will forgive me for this transgression and the others that will likely follow. Be safe, be well, be happy. Thanks for reading and spreading the word - Kit)

(Day 34)
"You know, these Deathscorts, these people want to ban AR-15s yet they're out here protecting abortions, which are the same things! Both are used for murder!"

Yeah, it's going to be that kind of morning.

The sidewalks are PACKED this morning with protesters, including the Northeastern Regional Overseer who is batting leadoff and providing the hot, piping false equivalency that's evidently an important part of a well-balanced breakfast. One of the other escorts informs me the reason we have NRO and some of the other guest screamers is because at this time of year they're working their way north to be able - and I swear, I'm not making this up - to protest the Haunted Happenings in Salem on Halloween. I guess it shows diversity to take a weekend off from shaming women to focus on trying to cram your religion down a different set of throats. Are they allowed to have candy apples while they're there, or are those also tinged with iniquity and sin?

Then again, maybe I'm misjudging them. Perhaps they'll spread love, tolerance, and understanding all over Massachusetts.

"Gay couples can't have kids! And there's no such thing as a 'gay' child!"

Well, maybe not.

The indifference with which NRO and the others say such callous and hurtful things tends to undercut their proclamations of concern for everyone's well-being. While they claim to be devoid of hatred there's a fair amount of bile and barely-muted anger thrown our way, although with the buffer zone reducing interaction that has lessened a tiny bit. A fire can't thrive without both fuel and oxygen, but that doesn't stop them from sputtering along, trying to get us to engage. Homophobic comments like the ones above are intended to set us off, but at the same time they're showing who they are. We're outside a women's health clinic and they are ostensibly here with their claimed objective of 'saving lives,' so why are they instead ranting about sexual orientation? Why are those preaching from a book that calls for understanding and love for all advocating intolerance and non-inclusivity?

Perhaps there's a method behind the madness that we, as outsiders, aren't privy to and thus can't fathom. A master plan that works on several levels, the oratory version of four-dimensional chess. An intricate and cunning blueprint crafted to influence minds and sway hearts with existential questions designed to force us into deep contemplation.

"You know what? Men can't have abortions!"

Or maybe it's just a bunch of dudes who get off on trying to shame women.

* * *

(Day 34)
"I see you laughing, and I know what it means. It's not what you think, no, it is not what you think."

Ye gods, I think Parking Meter Guy is back.

Given the sheer number of protesters infesting the sidewalk today I figure we'll have rapid turnover at the mike, but little do I know that the screamer taking over at 9:30 has been booked for an extended slot. Tall and thin with a shaved head, he seems vaguely familiar as he launches into his spiel with a voice reminiscent of the one informing you that the white zones outside the terminal are for picking up and dropping off only. I think he's this guy, whom I haven't seen for about two years and have missed exactly zero percent. It doesn't take long for his patter to become judgmental, somewhat nasty and, during lulls with no patient intake, laser-focused on the escorts.

"Your laughter is nervous because you hear my words and they cause turmoil inside you. You're laughing to keep from admitting that I'm right."

Realizing his freshman-year-Intro-to-Psych stuff isn't going to goad either Greta or myself into violating the non-confrontational stance required while we're within the buffer zone, the Reverend (as I later learn he has been dubbed) aims his toxic words on the clinic and those inside as he prowls along the outer edge. After a bit I move to stand in front of him, with my back turned, to try to partially muffle his sonic river of hatred and shame. When he moves a few steps to the right I mirror him, and so begins a dance that stretches over the next ten minutes or so. Our waltz ends when this gentleman, who when not predicting hellfire and damnation has been letting us know he's loves us and trying to save us, holds his powerful speaker up by my ears.

This is when I remember my industrial-strength earplugs, sitting next to my alarm clock back home. Sure would be nice to have them right about now.

It's loud, but my hearing is already lousy and so we continue this stupid game of Aural Chicken Dancing. It ends a few minutes later when our northerly escorts bring in a patient. While we're getting them inside, the Runner-Lite continues to yell at them as she cuts through the buffer zone. This is patently illegal and, given that we have the laws about the zone posted for all to read and have made sure that they understand them, likely intentional. I make shooing motions with my hands as I loudly and firmly remind her that she can't be doing what she's doing.

Her outrage at being scolded is palpable. For the next hour she bounces from protester to protester, angrily gesturing in my direction as her mouth moves a mile a minute. I don't care what she's saying and anything that distracts her from harassing patients is a bonus, but it proves to be the opening act for the rest of the circus. The Reverend, still droning on, follows her example by walking across the upper tip of the zone while still orating. I yell, he ignores me. We record him from several different angles, realizing that this was planned act of defiance against the defenses used to protect others from their abuse.

How very noble.

He continues to cross back and forth, still spewing malice coated with the thinnest veneer of feigned compassion. After all, what are we escorts going to do? Yell back? Wave our fists in frustration? Stamp our feet?

In the distance, a siren begins to wail.

* * *

(Day 34)
"What I know is that when I walked up here you and the others were blocking the sidewalk! You know you're not allowed to do that, so make room and don't do it again!"

What? The police showed up? Imagine that! What *ever* could have brought them here?

::blinks innocently::

The officer that's showed up already looks irritated beyond words, although he's doing a good job of being polite and courteous. I can't blame him, as this has to be an unwanted and wearisome visit, but the effect his presence creates is what the situation requires. The Mean Girls are trying to complain to him about something but he's still focused on how they were restricting ingress. When he's done with them our security guard talks to him for a bit as the protesters huddle in clumps, casting furtive glances his way. They're not afraid - this is not the first time the cops have been here, not by a long shot - but it's definitely changing the tenor. I, for my part, am more than willing to keep to myself unless he approaches me. While I might be this week's team leader it's not like I'm wearing a badge or epaulettes as identification, and as I had the guard call it in I'm more than content to let the two of them chat.

It always feels strange and a bit unsettling to have the police show up. This is the first time they're here at my behest, as I've only had a few shifts as team leader with the buffer zone so far. I hate to bother them - they almost certainly have better things to be doing - but aside from setting up trip wires there's not many other options available for me.

As the officer moves on to talk with what can be considered the 'brain trust' of the protesters, the Reverend launches back into his patter. He crosses through the zone again, at which point I become aware (somewhat late to the party, to be honest) that he would LOVE to be arrested for this. Exposure, notoriety, 'street cred' among those in their movement, another legal case to claim 1A rights violations - all features in their book as opposed to bugs. Sure, the Go-Pro cameras most of them sport allow them to post their toxic harangues online, but video of one of them being led away in handcuffs would make for a red-letter day. Past legal scuffles have demonstrated that the shadowy entities that fund this so-called crusade would be there to provide counsel as well. The lawyer who represented Luis also litigated for the couple demanding the removal of New Jersey's ban on conversion therapy.

Yes, the protesters love all of us, as long as we're the *us* they want us to be.

Since the patrolman seems focused on easing tension the Reverend's antics go unnoticed for the moment, denying him his martyrdom. We keep filming, the footage saved for the civic and legal battles that loom in the future. His insistence that everywhere is 'God's ground' indicates that he feels he can break any law he wants as long as it's in the Lord's name which, in a perfect world, would land him on an FBI watch list. Then again, in a perfect world we wouldn't need to be out here every Saturday morning.

Out of the corner of my eye I see Runner-Lite hopping around while she speaks to the officer, but it's not until she angrily points in my direction that I realize she's imitating what I was doing in front of the Reverend. I don't possess a law degree but I feel confident that I'm in the clear here, which is confirmed by the sour twist of her lips as the cop says something to her before walking away. The glare she sends my way causes me to laugh, which triggers the Reverend to accuse me of self-doubt once again. It's a vicious cycle, indeed.

After a few more brief conversations the officer heads back to his car, gaining refuge from the lot of us. The Reverend stomps through one more time but his heart doesn't seem in it, and soon after he shuts off his mike. Maybe he can find the arrest he wants up in Salem.

Do they still use stocks?

* * *

(Day 35)
"Sorry for your loss."

Sometime you have to wonder how a person can become so incredibly broken.

If you've been reading these entries from the beginning you're aware of how vile the protesters are capable of being. This morning, for example, the Northeastern Regional Overseer shouted "WELCOME TO AUSCHWITZ!" at a pair of nurses on their way into the clinic. Escorts endure a never-ending litany of verbal abuse from the so-called Christians, much of it straight-up projecting: we're racists (uhm, okay); we're misogynists (wut); we're worse than a murderer who only killed one person (yes, this was said in all seriousness, which is part of the reason my wife and I will never escort at the same time for fear of our children being made orphans); we're liars (says the same person who, after sprinkling holy water on the sidewalk and telling the demons to begone, states that a nearby Planned Parenthood is shutting down - an unfounded lie); we're effeminate (that's me, it would appear); we don't know our place (that would be every woman who dares to be out here instead of being home waiting on a husband hand and foot); we're entitled (as the Runner rolls up in her brand new Mercedes); and many others as well. Refusing to accept their would-be labels is a necessary survival skill. Being the loudest does not make them correct.

"Sorry for your loss."

How long it takes for an escort to become dismissive of the taunts and insults sent our way varies, but I can't imagine someone lasting very long if they couldn't. For people who say they're trying to spread the love of Jesus Christ they seem eager to try to reduce young, frightened women into tears, to shame and mock those doing nothing more than claiming control over what to do with their own body. A screamer, new to me - young, dressed in duck hunting camo, and of course male - starts off his time on the amp by calling out a woman's name and then saying her brother is out here and doesn't want her to kill his niece or nephew. Is this real or just part of an act? Given that he doesn't return to it again in any way leads me to believe the latter is the case, but who knows? Is there anything these people won't say in their attempt to tell women what they can and cannot do?

"Sorry for your loss."

I get the reasoning as to why they attack so vociferously as patients are going in. I don't approve, but at least it makes sense. They are trying to dissuade, to take control, to make inroads into luring them into their church under the auspices of providing assistance. As of late they've been pushing the narrative of 'We'll have a gender-reveal party for your baby!', which sounds a bit odd coming from old men who seconds earlier were telling the whopper of a lie that there's a detectable heartbeat at *eighteen days.* The Runner referring to patients and companions as 'Mom' and 'Dad' respectively is repugnant beyond words but at least I can grasp the (loathsome) logic behind it.

"Sorry for your loss."

That doesn't explain the comments fired at those leaving the clinic. What's the point? Beyond arguments based in ignorance that certain procedures 'can be reversed,' there's no tangible reason for the protesters to interact with patients once they emerge. All they can do at that moment is try to inflict guilt, remorse, and pain. What sort of petty, emotionally stunted people would traffic in such behavior?

"Sorry for your loss."

Runner-Lite, evidently, as she was the person who yelled this at a patient as she was leaving. I keep thinking that as a whole the protesters have hit rock-bottom, but they continue to prove me wrong. This isn't yet another attempt to lure vulnerable women into their religious sect; it's not The Runner offering the facade of kindness after being utterly repulsive to them when they arrived.

"Sorry for your loss."

It's nothing more than a bully picking on someone when they're perceived to be in a moment of weakness. It's a comment crafted to cause guilt, designed to inflict pain, intended to invoke remorse. It cannot reverse the procedure, make someone pregnant again, or make it as though the morning had never happened.

"Sorry for your loss."

It comes from someone who believes that she is better than others because of her belief in mythological beings, ones who purportedly advocate for love and understanding. Her way of expressing this faith is by showering scorn and hatred at those who are seen as sinners through the extremely narrow vision of her worldview. Smug and arrogant while wrapped within her mantle of intolerance, she spews bile like this at people she's never met. She wants to control their choices and, being denied that, resorts to lashing out in a toxic manner.

"Sorry for your loss."

Minutes after saying that she's chatting with Bad Dye Job, the two of them laughing and having an animated conversation that features a great deal of hands being waved about. It's clear she's not going to dwell on what she said, that she saw nothing wrong with it, and will likely do it again in the near future. Perhaps her deity is real and, when she passes, will pat her on the back for her zeal and righteousness. Or, maybe, at some point she'll have a moment of self-reflection and realize that what she said was horrible and that she is horrible too.

"Sorry for your loss."

The odds are pretty stacked against that, I fear.

Stay safe.

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