Many of you will know her personally so we thought you might be interested to read her story.
My 26 years in the Sea Org
|Carol Nyburg (Vedder) at Flag|
On November 3rd, 1982, I arrived at Flag to join the Sea Organization. I was met at the front door by none other than Wayne Baumgarten. That is how long I have known Wayne. He was, at the time, in charge of all the new recruits. I arrived with my 1 year old daughter, Nancy. No one was more excited than me to be at Flag and to be in the SO. I didn’t care what post I got I just wanted to do my part in helping the Planet be a better place to be.
My main reasons for joining this group besides helping the Planet were I felt I would be better understood and I wanted my daughter to be in a drug free environment.
I lived where all the families and people with children lived. It was an old Quality Inn Motel. I had my room and lived there for 20 years. My children grew up there! In 1984, I remarried and had a son while in the SO. I had a car and we drove in to work each day. We started at 9 am. We came home for family time every night between 5:30 pm and 8 pm. These were great times. There was a pool and Florida gets really hot. The pool was always filled with staff and kids, plus if you had a car, you could go shopping, go out to eat or just spend time with the kids playing and sometimes I took a little nap. I always felt great when I went back to post. It was the ideal break in the day. Then most of us worked till about midnight. Course as a young mother, I had to take care of the kids and be up with them in the night and all the things a mother endures. Our meals were prepared for us. So I had two meals at the QI and lunch at the Flag Base at this time. I had a mini kitchen in my room, microwave, toaster oven, coffee pot and I put in little cupboards. I really made a cute space and it felt like home. I did everything I could to create a homey and fun environment for my kids.
I had my car at work, so if I needed things I went and handled at my lunch time, plus I would go shopping after work. No one was watching my every move. I was trusted and trustworthy. After all I was a Flag staff member, regarded as the very top group besides the staff of international management. I had fun and really enjoyed these days. If your statistics were up, one could get a liberty every two weeks. I got them often and really made the most of these times, sometimes taking off on Friday night and going to Orlando to spend Saturday, and be back on post by Sunday morning.
|Carol at home|
A couple of times we left on Friday night and went to a little beach side motel that had 2 bedrooms and a kitchen. I cooked and we watched TV and played on the beach. It was like a whole vacation wrapped into one day.
In 1989, things changed and there was no more “family time.” This was very upsetting to say the least. For a time, all the kids were transported by bus to the Flag base so we could still see our kids and have dinner together. The time was shorter, but you could still drive places and go out if you wanted to. So it wasn’t too bad – still not has good as going home and spending some quality time there with your family.
I mention all this because I want to point out that there were really good times in the ‘80’s, in the Sea Org. I would like to mention here that the Flag Base stats were up and expanding. I was running the Flag Hotels at the time. We had about 250 rooms in the Fort Harrison at that time, the Sandcastle had 88 and we expanded into another motel called the Heart of Clearwater which later became the Yachtsman. We nearly always had high room occupancy. People were flocking to Flag to get the tech. This was before all the major renovations.
Several years later when the belt (figuratively speaking) kept getting tighter and tighter on staff freedoms, the stats really suffered and it seemed so difficult to get the 100 or so rooms in the Fort Harrison filled as well as the 140 or so at the Sandcastle. The Yachtsman was much less expensive, and it stayed full all the time.
In 1996, I transferred from my position at the Fort Harrison Front Desk to that of Accommodations Counselor which meant I was responsible for selling accommodations to the public that came there for services.
Meeting David Miscavige
First I must tell a story that happened around 1990. Mr. David Miscavige came to the Fort Harrison to do an inspection of the hotel. He had several senior execs with him, one of whom was Mike Rinder. I didn’t know enough to be frightened or on guard. I was just myself and I was good at my job, I was good running the FH and taking very good care of my guests there. Anyway, Mr. Miscavige wanted to inspect the Presidential Suite. It was about 10 am. I informed him that the guest in that room, who, by the way, lived there year round and was our highest paying guest, slept till noon and did not like to be disturbed till she called down. The staff were very tuned into her needs and wants. Our utmost concern was that she would have privacy when asked for and we would service her to the hilt when requested.
Well, this did not sit well with Mr. Miscavige. He told Mr. Rinder to tell me that I had caused “counter intention” in his universe and this was just not done. It was unforgivable. I refused to wake our guest.
Mr. Rinder, under DM’s orders, ordered me removed from post till I had confessed my transgressions by writing down 20 pages of them. I was really shocked but also I was intimidated and one just did not speak up or speak back to senior execs. I recall the Commanding Officer of the Flag Land Base at that time, was in charge of ensuring I got this done. I had no idea what to write. I just started making up stuff just to get through this. I mean 20 pages! How does one determine that. It was crazy. Anyway, I got through it and was restored to my post.
Back to my new post as a Flag Accommodations Counselor. Well I knew the hotels backwards and forwards and was excellent at giving good service, so picking the best rooms to fit the needs of our guests came easy to me. I didn’t like asking people for money. I had to do it because it was my post so I just did it. I became the top registrar for accommodations. I stayed on this post till I left in September, 2008.
The shackles tighten
Again, I had fun. I still had my car. This is significant because by 1999, the staff were no longer allowed to drive our cars into work. This apparently came down from David Miscavige, reason that there were “too many cars” taking up valuable spaces in the downtown area of Clearwater. I really don’t know if that was true. It was sort of plausible, so ok, I started taking the bus. Then gates went up at the Quality Inn where I lived and a security guard was posted at the gate so you couldn’t just go shopping when you got home. Suddenly, you couldn’t go anywhere. You could sometimes get an ok if your need warranted it but often you were turned back. When you got a day off, you could take your car out or on Saturday mornings. Saturday morning was the time allotted to staff members to clean their rooms, wash clothes, etc. It was a time to just get your personal life in order. Still, all the staff had to attend a roll call at 9 am in the parking lot to ensure all were present except those with an approval for time off.
Sometimes one’s liberty only consisted of the cleaning time in the morning. Meaning they could go do something and did not have to report to muster, but needed to be on post by 1 pm.
Rooms were inspected and one needed to pass inspection. These inspections got increasingly crazy as we move into the 2000s. “Crazy” meaning all clothes in your closet must be color coordinated and facing a certain direction, drawers very neat. About once a month we would need to “de-kludge” (get rid of “unnecessary” belongings).
Losing my kids
In 2001, I moved my work location from the Fort Harrison to the Sandcastle. I loved being there and I continued to excel there. The public and I had high affinity for each other. They kept me buoyed up. In 2004 I got a new office and — wow, on the one hand it seemed like life was pretty good.
But here is the back story. My son left in 1998! He was 14. I cannot believe now that I just let him go without ME! He went to live with his father, who had left around 1993. My thoughts were that he was with one of his parents so this is a good thing. I just could not conceive of leaving at that time. My mindset was so fixed on being committed to my post and to the Sea Org. So much so that I let my son leave me.
My daughter left in 2004. She grew up at Flag and became a Sea Org member in 1997. She excelled and moved to high posts. Then she crashed and burned and did not have very good experiences of her own. She was supposed to do big ethics program called the Rehabilitation Project Force. These programs often took 4 or 5 years or more. I was asked to please convince her to do it. I could not. We were crying. I got to be alone with her and I just told her to do what was in her heart and I would back her up. I didn’t want her to go the RPF. At the same time I was devastated that she was being pushed out of my life. We were very close and her leaving had a huge effect on me. My stats went down for 6 weeks straight – which was unheard of. I couldn’t stop crying.
Instead of being allowed to apply LRH policy, everything was being driven off course by management. I finally got some auditing to assist me with the loss of my children and this did really help me but of course it didn’t fix the bigger problem that my family was being ripped apart against my will and in violation of what LRH Policy. I believe that if all the upper level executives had just simply applied LRH policies and technology to the fullest, there would be a lot more happiness in the world and people like Debbie Cook and myself would still be at Flag happy and producing. This is a very true statement.
Losing my husband
Shortly after my daughter left, there was a project that came to Flag from the Freewinds, the Scientology ship for upper Scientology levels. The idea was to really prepare the staff for the increasing dangers of hurricanes. As you will recall 2004 and 2005 were horrific years for hurricanes so it was good to be drilled for safety. BUT, the belt just got tighter and tighter at this time. Policy was thrown out the window and we were all made to do special courses and abandon or existing courses – which is totally off policy. Ok, one course, I could understand if it was really important; but then there was another one and another one and another one! Plus there were now additional musters and training programs including close order drilling — yes, just like the military. And we just had to do it. No one was allowed to question these things. One of the staff leading these drills was a former female officer in the Israel Army. This scared me because she was so intent that we march and drill like soldiers.
I managed to be excused from a lot of these nutty non-Scientology programs because I was a money maker. It was preferred most times that I stay on post and make more money. I still can hardly believe that I used to make from $40,000 to $80,000 per week for the Church selling Flag accommodations. I just still find that hard to believe. But I did it.
My husband was routed to the RPF in 2005. Again I was devastated. We wrote to each other regularly. You don’t get to see or visit your spouse or family member in the RPF. He had his kids get birthday and Christmas presents for me. I loved him and had no intention of divorcing him. I was just waiting for him to get out — but when? No one knew.
Then one day I was pulled in to an office by my senior and told that my husband was leaving the Sea Org. The organization attempted to intervene and interfere in our marriage and had already prepared divorce papers! I was told to just fill them out and sign. Yet, I knew my husband wouldn’t just up and leave without good reason — leaving his own wife and children were unthinkable to him.
Still I was not allowed to see him or talk to him. The day he was to leave, the Chaplain took me out to see him at the RPF area. He had written up an agreement of our debts and things and I had this chance to respond. Someone was with us to entire time. So we really never got to talk privately and really open up to each other about what was happening personally. Of course, I had been heavily indoctrinated to not leave the SO. And it wasn’t until several years later that I found out what really happened and why he left.
After a while, I realized that I really wanted to go with him. I had really wanted to be married to him and it was time for me to go and create a life outside the SO. I went to the chaplain and told him this and he said he would help. I then went to my two seniors. Man, was I reamed out big time. First berated for even entertaining the idea of leaving. Then he tore my husband apart really berating him in unimaginable fashion. Then he decided to throw my daughter in and tell me how terrible she was. I just stood there in shock. I should have just walked out right then and there. I at least told him it was not okay to speak like that of my family. How could he possibly think these words would convince me to want to stay or console me in anyway? Still, those words did have their effect: I went back to post and remained for another three years.
Frank and I got divorced. It was more like he had died because normally when people get divorced they can still talk and see each other. I could not see or talk to him because he was no longer in the SO. It was really crazy and I did not do well with this whole affair.
Coping with new rules from the top
A list of DO’S AND DON’T’S for Flag staff members came into existence sometime around this time — I don’t recall exactly when. And everyone was expected to abide by these rules. These do’s and don’ts were not covered in any LRH Policy. We were told that because we were at the top organization of Sea Org members, we had to abide by extra rules and guidelines for security purposes and to protect us as well. We could no longer walk between buildings around Clearwater, we had to take a Church bus or van provided by the Church for these purposes. If your production statistics were up, you could go to Starbucks or a local shop for a sandwich. Eventually, no one was allowed to visit any local restaurants but Starbucks was still okay. I used to go to the local vitamin shops whenever I could and I tried to sneak food from places.
I actually tried to get away with as much stuff as I could because I did not agree. Yet I was still too beaten down to really stand up to the abuses so this was my way of rebelling. I thought to myself, if I ever get out of here I should write a book called “How to Survive as a Sea Org Member.” Well, it would be simple — just learn how to lie convincingly and be really clever.
I believed if I wasn’t bringing harm or doing anything that was bad or in violation of LRH Policy then it was okay — like going to Walgreens at lunch time or dinner. To sneak up there I had to walk the back streets (which was forbidden) and walk back to work after dinner (also forbidden). I also committed the unpardonable felony of sneaking off to the public library during lunch time to check out audio books — one of my favorite things.
Earlier I mentioned that I did not agree meaning I didn’t agree with all the off-Policy rules and arbitrary stops being put in my way, however, I still was of the mindset that I was there for a higher purpose and so it was all worth the effort even if I was inconvenienced and had to make sacrifices. I was at Flag and was helping to clear the planet and make the world a better place to live. I really believed this and that my being there made a difference. How could I leave my fellow staff members? This was always a huge roadblock to leaving.
I continued to believe that someone somewhere would realize how stupid and crazy all these rules were and it would change. But it kept getting worse. It never let up at all which is what finally brought me to my senses.
Oh — the library! This is its own story. As computers and internet came into being, we as staff members were not allowed to go onto the Internet. My very first experience going onto the Internet was in October, 2008, after I had left the Sea Org. More about that later.
Well, there were computers at the library, so the Flag security guards would take turns going to the library to stop any Sea Org members from using the computers. I realized since leaving staff that access to the Internet meant access to email — a lifeline to the outside world. Our communication lines were intentionally cut and we were kept in the dark. I had no idea of my rights or of the laws against human trafficking that prohibited people from being able to freely come and go. I had no idea how to access the Internet or even send an email. And of course I couldn’t ask anyone. I did go to the library often because listening to audio books was an escape for me. I listened during my exercise time, when cleaning my room, on the bus, whenever I could. It was nearly as good as watching a movie.
Of course, no one was allowed to have a TV or DVD player. Nevertheless, I managed to get a little one somewhere. But a security guard found it during an inspection and took it away. I got another one and was more careful how I hid it. I rarely was able to use it, but just knowing I had it was a comfort to me. Security guards could come into your room and inspect when you weren’t there. They could and would go through your drawers and closets to see if you had any contraband – meaning anything listed in the DO’S and DON’TS that we were allowed to have.
Another forbidden activity was to have a PO Box. Well I had gotten one in 1989, before that rule went in. I actually tried to close it, but I just couldn’t. It was so convenient and freeing to be able to have mail that was not read by security guards. The freeing feeling increased as the belt got tighter. All the mail coming to the base for staff members was gone through first. All mail was read. I had credit card bills and I never wanted to be late. If they had gone through the normal mail lines through security, one never knew how long it might take to get it. This is a secret that I never divulged the entire time I was there. It was my little bit of freedom that I cherished. I also had to sneak into the Post Office to get my mail — sometimes very difficult.
In the ‘80s, I received a small inheritance. I spent it all to help create a better life for me and my children. I got a car, renovated my room at the QI with a little kitchen and a proper counter and sink. I had a loft where I slept. I created a children’s room beneath, then created a living room in the front. I was on the 2nd floor and overlooked the pool. I thought I was pretty cool: upstairs and downstairs, kitchen, living room and bath! On Saturday mornings, I would cook breakfast myself and put a little children’s table outside and let the kids eat out there. We didn’t have much, but we still tried to enjoy life and we were indeed happy together.
|Mother and daughter, reunited|
My daughter had a son in 2006 while living in California. I couldn’t manage to get a leave to go see her. She finally moved back to Clearwater and I finally met my grandson when he was 1 ½ years old. I managed a full day off and it was wonderful to be reunited with my daughter and to meet my grandson. Well that was my last full day off until I left in 2008.
There was one security guard at the Sandcastle that really disliked my daughter and he did not want her on the property because she was no longer in the Sea Org. He didn’t even want me to have any time with her and said that if I did get any time off, I had to get it approved through the ethics office to see her during that time. Of course I ignored this. I rarely got any time off, so sometimes I would have her pick me up about 2- 3 am from the Sandcastle — it was not uncommon for me to be working that late. She would take me to her house. I would sleep a few hours and see my grandson in the morning, eat together and then she would drive me as close as it was safe and I would go back to post.
Sleep deprivation sets in
Then came a turning point in July 2007. All the “Basics” were released (fancy and expensive new editions of LRH basic books). DM had spent the last several years correcting what he claimed were vast outpoints in the original writings. We were forced to get rid of all our original books and get new ones. We were strongly encouraged to purchase them using our own money. But besides that the overall order was to get sets of these new books into the hands of every Scientologist and then find anyone that had ever been a Scientologist and get the basics into their hands also. Well this was a mammoth undertaking. All staff — I mean everyone — had daily quotas on sales.
As I mentioned before, I was pretty successful on my post selling accommodations. LRH technology of applying the proper condition formula for the condition one was in had always been paramount. As a registrar, one should and would always do the successful actions that had created affluences – just keep doing that. It was a great formula for success. I did this and created affluence sales regularly. I had my formulas and my actions really down and when I varied these, my success went down. Sounds pretty simple right? Well, I had to incorporate book sales into this somehow. I was a fish out of water when it came to this. Of course, I loved the books and agreed with the premise that everyone should have their own set and I agreed that it was a good idea to recover people who had fallen off and get them the technology. BUT, how about training a team of experts to do this and just let everyone else do their OWN jobs? Instead, production crashed because EVERY staff member was pushed off post, off doing the usual, off doing the routine and vital actions of wearing their own hats and doing their own jobs. Everyone had to have a quota. In addition to this, for the next year till I finally left, I could count on one hand the nights I could get more than 7 hours of sleep. It was rare to get even 6. You see, I would usually start my book sales efforts after 10 pm, and frequently be up till 2 am, then it became 3 am and very often I would not go home till 5 am. Sometimes I would not go home at all. I found a way to catch a nap on the floor of the bathroom in the Sandcastle Fitness Center. I would take a coat or a blanket if I could get one and use my purse as a pillow. It was small so I had to work it just right. I put something by the door to keep the draft out, turned out the light and fell asleep. I would wake up and wash my face and put new makeup on and walk out – that part was really nice because it just looked like I came in early. I would go to a local place to have breakfast. Then go back and start all over again.
All staff are supposed to have 2 ½ hours of study time at least 5 days a week. This was the time to advance our own understanding of Dianetics and Scientology or to receive auditing (spiritual counseling). Well that was great, but when you do not get enough sleep, it becomes impossible. It was well known that most staff were barely sleeping, but we still were expected to go to study anyway. People would be falling asleep literally at their tables. How much can one duplicate or absorb trying to read that way. It was really awful. My senior at the time finally told me that when I was up till 4 or 5 am, he would okay me to sleep in and miss study. Sleeping this little bit was heavenly.
When I would have an affluence on my stats I would request a day off as per LRH Policy. Well this would be granted as long as my book quota was also met. Well this was rarely done. So I would try to make some agreement to just take the hours of my personal cleaning time or maybe till 2 or 3 pm — anything so I could spend some time with my daughter and grandson. Like I said, I never had a full 24 hours with my daughter and grandson that entire year from 2007 when she moved back to Clearwater to 2008 when I left.
I should mention here that in 1993, I was awarded a new “status” as Leading Professional Staff member. This was bestowed by the LRH Personal Publics Relations Officer at Flag. This recognition was based on a writing of LRH stating that those staff members that were qualified due to their performance and production, would have this status. With it came the stipulation that liberties were never to be denied for that person, and no one except another with that status could assign them a harsh ethics condition. Well I didn’t dare bring this up. The atmosphere was too tense and I was in unfamiliar water and really didn’t know where I was going or what was happening.
I still believed in the technology and wanted to believe that senior management had our best interests at heart and that David Miscavige couldn’t possibly know that the Flag staff rarely slept. How could he want that for his top staff members? Some of us — my closest friends — wondered what would happen if we wrote this stuff up — we were supposed to write up violations — but who would you send it to? Local management certainly condoned the abuse. So where was all this craziness coming from??? No one wanted to believe that it came from the very top.
Debbie Cook vanishes
Sometime in 2007, I noticed that Debbie Cook wasn’t around. Her apartment appeared to be empty. I started asking around and there was a buzz going around. The rumor and buzz was traced back to me. The senior ethics officer of the Flag base came to see me personally. However my statistics were up trending, plus I had the rank of Warrant Officer so I was considered trustworthy. I did not get into trouble, but she took me aside and told me that Debbie was ok but not doing so well right then and it would be better for everyone and the staff morale to just drop it. “Do not discuss Debbie Cook with anyone” was the message. I obeyed but never stopped being curious.
During the year of 2007 and 2008, my daughter did manage to drive to the Sandcastle to sometimes bring me a sandwich or just to come by to bring me things that I had difficulty getting out to get. Well when the security guard found out about this, he would come to my office and slam the door. I had a glass door so there really wasn’t much privacy plus I was just across from the hotel front desk. He yelled at me like there was no tomorrow. I wasn’t afraid of him but I was sure angry, mainly because he seemed to hate my daughter. A little note here, after I left, he was transferred to another post and was no longer a security guard. She came on the Base with NO PROBLEM after that, and as he was on another post, he actually tried to be friendly to her. This was just nuts.
Another really scary thing happened during this time, it was called “Boot Camp.” This was some kind of nutty ethics program that didn’t start till after you had worked all day. So at 11 pm a group of us, all registrars like myself from all over the base, not just accommodations counselors but IAS, Freewinds, Planetary Dissemination registrars, too. There were about 15 to 20 of us. First we would do exercises. I was just turning 60 at this time. This was not an easy ordeal for me. Then we would do close order drilling. If you goofed up, you had to drop and do pushups or some such thing. Then we were taken to a renovation project that was going on at the Base somewhere and made to do some horrible job till about 2 am. We were then taken to our berthings to sleep and we had to be back in at 8:30 am for more ethics handlings and special reading assignments, then on to post, then boot camp again at 11 pm. This was my most fearful time in my entire career. The reason was because it did not follow anything I had ever read about Scientology ethics and I had no idea how it would end or what to do to ensure it would end. It finally did end. At the end I had to write up how “beneficial” it was for me and how much “better” I was doing then. Of course I just did it because I would have done anything to make sure this abuse stopped.
During Boot Camp, if there was any infraction no matter how small, you were called up before the group and the infraction was read out which was in itself humiliating and then you were supposed to do some strenuous exercise in front of everyone. Me up there was not a pretty sight I can tell you! This whole entire experience was the most psychotic and terrifying of my entire 26 years as a staff member. It was this experience that finally convinced me that “I have to get of here!!”
After my 61st birthday in Sept, 2008 I just looked around and said I am 61, if I don’t leave now I never will. The organization had broken every promise to allow me to move up the spiritual ladder we call the Bridge. So I could see that another 5 or 10 years could whisk by with no change then I really would be too old to make any changes. I knew at 61, I could still get a job and make a living. I had repeatedly told me seniors that I needed to take a leave and really needed their help to make this happen as it was nearly impossible to get replaced. My mom was 86. I wanted to get out to see her. I did manage to see her in 2002 for 3 days and you just cannot imagine what I went through to take that trip. The amount of duress I went through to make that happen… My husband was supposed to come with me and nearly made it but suddenly they decided he was just too valuable and could not be spared even for 3 days. It created huge problems with my family. I kept having to handle that point during my precious 3 days. It had been 10 years since I had seen my mom! It was an awful thing and I had regrets that I had not make it happen sooner.
Well now it was 2008, and I thought of nothing else but get home to her house. I dreamed of her cute little guest house and wonderful it would be to be there and feel safe and free.
I had tried to route out standardly before and did not want to try to fight that opposition. I knew I wasn’t up for it. People do it and it can be done but not without a great deal of duress. I was such a fixture there and made so much money for the Church, it would not be a popular move on my part. I honestly did not see any other way to do it but just take off. This way everyone would know I was serious about leaving. Well this would have to be planned to do it right. I was careful to not let my daughter know any details or she would be in real trouble. She knew I was not happy. You just did not discuss the possibility of leaving because it was deemed a “high crime.” punishable by being declared to be a suppressive person regardless of your production record or all the years you had devoted as a staff member. So I kept quiet.
I decided on what day I would leave. Days before, I came in early on the bus and then slipped out and walked a mile to the car rental place that the Church frequently used. I even got a Church member discount. I thought that was pretty cool. I drove it to the downtown parking garage and paid for a month’s parking. It was only a few days but oh well. I parked it up a few floors. I had brought in a small suitcase that day with another one inside of it. Then each day after that I brought in tote bags with my stuff in it. I brought as much as I could, but could really only take essentials. I really had no personal wardrobe to speak of as I was nearly always in uniform and rarely went out anywhere. Then I would sneak into the garage at lunch time and throw the stuff into the trunk. This was not easy as the garage was right across from where everyone went to lunch. I just casually walked around the corner like going to the shops and kept walking till I got to the garage. I had to be careful not to run into a bus that was going by or a security guard riding a bike or something. Well, I made it.
Then the day came. It was a Thursday, September 25th, 2008, which is the last day of our production week. We had the afternoon, after 2 pm, which was the official end of the production week, to get my weekending actions done and start preparing for the new week. So I cleaned up my area and jammed anything that was my personal property into my briefcase and purse. Then just before 7 pm, which was my scheduled dinner time, I called my co-worker and said that I wasn’t feeling well and that I was probably “going to Iso” (short for Isolation which is where sick staff members go when they are ill). I was told to get better quick so I could back to post.
I had come in early that morning and drove the rental car out of the garage and boldly parked it in front of the Sandcastle on the street facing the park. At 7 pm, I walked out and got in the car and drove north. I wanted to go to a small town my first night. First I stopped at a little restaurant and just ate whatever I wanted and just sat there enjoying myself. Then I found a Holiday Inn Express and checked in.
I was planning to take a Greyhound bus cross-country. My sister had been helping me with schedules. She was great. Anyway, the next morning a bus was supposed to leave but I needed a bit more time. Anyway, that day was GREAT. I went out a bought a proper suitcase and repacked all my stuff. I recall taking my uniform off and leaving it in the garbage! I checked out, then took myself out to lunch — then on a whim got my hair done and had her do color and everything. I was having a proper day off! I took the car to the car rental place and told them I didn’t know how to get to the bus station. They were great and told me to come back just before their closing and she would drive me there. Sweet!
I decided to go pay for my ticket. I was all set to do it then I stopped cold and thought what if “they” are checking my card activity. I really had no idea if it would happen but didn’t want to take that chance as there were several hours before the bus left. I called my mom and told her she had better pay for it at that end and why it had to be done that way.
I chose Greyhound for two reasons. One was because I wanted to sit and look out the window and just look at the beautiful scenery and the second was I was certain I would not run into any Scientologist at a Greyhound station. That just wouldn’t happen. Wow, what an experience I had with the that subculture. And believe me the Greyhound bus stations and patrons are really a subculture in this country. I was fascinated. But that is for another time.
By Friday afternoon, my pager started going off full time. I had a pager as we were not allowed cell phones not personal ones anyway. Some staff had them for work so they could reach more public to reg them for more money. I have to tell you, my daughter, bless her heart, sneaked a cell phone to me early on and I had to be VERY CAREFUL to not get found out. That saved me going cross-country on a bus! My pager continued going off for the next day or so, until I lost it somewhere in Texas.
Ratcheting up the punishment
A registrar is the person on staff that gets the public to sign up for a service and gets them to pay for it. My job was to be a registrar selling hotel accommodations. We had the nickname of “regges”. As mentioned before, I did that, and knew a lot of public from all over the world. People liked coming to accommodations because I was not regging them for services or the IAS, (International Association of Scientologists) or books or anything else. The public saw a lot of regges while they were there getting the services. Then when I was made to have quotas to also sell books and then added to that was a quota to get donations for the IAS as well, well I became just like all the other regges. I could feel the public looking at me like “Et tu Brute?” I hated it and didn’t want to do it. There was all kinds of pressure to do this. I tried to query these quotas on several occasions to no avail. There were some nights when a very senior SO member would literally sit in the chair next to my desk while I called all over the world trying to sell Basics. He would just sit there and watch me. Because he was in an upper group at the Base, I did not dare chit chat with him or try to query any orders. There was no way I could leave until he said it was okay. He eluded on occasion that he was not allowed to eat until our quotas in the accommodations section were met. He was in charge of our group to ensure we were selling Basics.
There were a couple of times that I went to dinner at my designated dinner time and was met by a security guard asking if I had met my quota for that time period yet. If the answer was no, I was not allowed to eat. For a time I stopped going to dinner and snuck in food from the canteen. I always paid for it, but staff members were not allowed to go into the canteen for anything until after 10 or 11 pm. So I had friends in the kitchens put stuff aside for me.
One thing a staff member was continually threatened with was being sent to “the bilges”. This is a ship term and that is where it came from. Staff on the ship did “bilge duty” if they had to handle some ethics situation. As there were no actual bilges at Flag, ethics officers came up with doing pots or dishes after post for an hour, or cleaning out the garbage room where the dumpster was. When one was working already into the night, it was kind of strange. You would stop around 11 pm, do your bilges then go back to post. The most gruesome assignment was to clean out port-o-potties. There were renovations happening across from the Fort Harrison, so there were port-o-potties. I wonder what the construction workers thought about really clean port-o-potties the next morning. I did whatever I could to get out of these punishments.
Various projects were worked up for us to do. I can tell you another bilge experience: the Sandcastle Hotel staff that were responsible for keeping the hotel filled especially the penthouses, were regularly sent to do dishes after hours if the penthouses were not filled. This sometimes included me. I was called upon to fill those rooms on a daily basis. I didn’t like to do it because it wasn’t what people were coming to Flag and especially to the Sandcastle for.
I can tell you that when any senior executive at Flag, not just senior execs from Int, were addressing you, if they yelled at you or gave you some order, the only acceptable answer was “Yes sir!” If you said anything else, there was no telling what might happen to you. In the extreme, you could be sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) for such an infraction or at least back to do more bilges or an ethics program.
You could write something up on it later, but it became increasingly difficult to decide what to do with a write-up. Where would you send it? Who would really read it or listen? You were more likely to be investigated if you queried an executive order. I know one hotel staff member that questioned our late hours and lack of sleep. She started looking up LRH references on sleep and that LRH insisted staff get proper sleep. He stated on more than one occasion that lack of sleep can make a person start acting stupid. Once in a while in an emergency it was acceptable to lose some sleep — but not on a regular basis. As a result, she was removed from post and ended up on the RPF mainly for being mutinous — encouraging other staff to question violations of policy regarding abusive sleep deprivation and off-Policy schedules. We were told we are spiritual beings or thetans and we are not bodies and we can really endure anything. We could just make things go right not matter what.
I remember some Thursdays nearly falling asleep at my desk trying to write up my week-ending report. I remember this because senior officers or security guards would come around to ensure we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. My junior was found falling asleep at her desk, and she really go in trouble. I would sometimes slap my face to stay awake.
Leaving on a bus
My Greyhound bus left very early Saturday, Sept 27th. We rolled into Sacramento and I finally reached my mother’s house sometime Tuesday morning. I still had not answered any beeps nor had any contact with anyone from Flag or even my daughter. Finally I took a call from Michelle, one of my seniors. She convinced me to come back and route out properly. I knew I had planned to do this because I did not want to jeopardize my relationship with my daughter. If I didn’t go back, I would have been declared a Suppressive Person and she would be forced to disconnect from me or be declared an SP herself. Then my son’s father would disconnect from me and if my son stayed in communication with me, well then he couldn’t be in communication with him. And on and on. So I went back.
I was housed in a special apartment set aside for “route-outs”. I actually had a room alone. This was great because normally you shared a room with several other women if you weren’t married. I had managed to keep my cell phone – I honestly don’t know how I pulled that off but I did. It was very important to have that. I am not talking about any fancy smartphone. Just a phone. I learned how to text and actually taught my 86 year old mother how to do it over the phone so we could stay in communication.
I had to report each morning at 9 am to get assigned some menial task to do for a few hours or until I got called into the base for my interrogations which are called a “security check.” This was the procedure. One must complete a full security check to ensure they leave with a clean slate. There were always guards at the front gate. There was no opportunity to leave without special permission.
Once I was asked to come in because the security chief wanted to see me. I thought, OMG what have I done now. Well it turns out he wanted me to buy some Basics book packages to help his quota. He told me that when I blew, he and his staff lost a lot of valuable production time looking for me, so I needed to make this up by buying Basics from him. He gave me a phone and left me alone for the whole day to make calls to credit cards to raise my limits or call anyone else that I could borrow from. They later put me in touch with my ex-husband, who himself was still on ethics lines as ex-SO. Technically, we were not to be in communication. Well, now we were. They got him to buy a set of Basics for me with the agreement that I would later pay him back. More debt for me.
By the time I got home to California, I was about $50,000 in debt. As a result, I was forced to file bankruptcy in 2009.
After I had completed everything and was awaiting my final okay to leave Flag, my former senior found a way to locate me where I was staying. He was not supposed to be in contact with me. No one was except for security personnel. He got me to come outside and told me I had gotten him in a lot of trouble because I blew and then I went and bought Basics from Security and not from him. He told me that I owed him and that I needed to buy basics or donate or do something. He was desperate. I mean I really had no money. I didn’t have any before that. It was just crazy. I was trying to get out of there. There was no way that I could come up with anything else. As it was my mom had to pay for my return airfare. I just wanted to get home and find a job and work out my situation. I actually didn’t know how bad it was till I got home. Pretty scary.
I finally got the call that I could leave. I packed all my bags and then brought them to the security guard just before getting on the van. He had to search them all to ensure I didn’t have any thing that I shouldn’t have like documents or org property and the like. I was taken to the airport very early in the morning. It didn’t matter how long I had to wait for my flight. They want to take the “route outs” very early when there is the least amount of public traffic so you do not get so noticed.
One other thing I should mention, when I got back to route out, my senior contacted me and begged me to go back on post. He said he fully understood now why I left and he really got it and basically all is forgiven. He promised I would get a Committee of Evidence which is an ethics cycle that one gets for various infractions of the rules. He told me that he would work it out to let me go back on post and get my charges to be lenient. Well I don’t think he has that power. Basically he wanted to sweep my transgressions under the rug as much as possible. I left on my own to make a statement that I meant business and wasn’t going to be dissuaded. Of course, I did not do go back on post. Down to my last day there, my senior’s senior came to see me to see if we could work it out or could I please work it out to at least donate something. It was just crazy. Everyone on the Base was crazy with quotas and trying to make them.
A few times above I mentioned sneaking around. I mention this here because the reason I had to sneak so much was because there were cameras EVERYWHERE. Even on the walkway to the place we had our meals so getting into that garage was not a simple matter. There was even a camera fixed on our front door of our berthing. I didn’t have one in my office and I felt some relief about that, but sometimes seniors would listen in to your phone calls. This was to ensure you were speaking correctly or that your sales technique was good and accurate and effective. So you didn’t want to be caught talking about something you shouldn’t be talking about.
I want to add that I have been out now for 3 years. I still have nightmares about being back there and being coaxed to get back to work. Various seniors will pop up in different scenarios. I wake up and look around and know I am ok.
The above is a summary of my 26 year experience at Flag in Clearwater Florida
Carol Nyburg (Vedder)