My heart was pounding. I’d broken out in a cold sweat. I had only minutes before it would be too late…
Sounds like something out of a thriller, right? What if I told you this happened to me every single week for almost two decades?
That’s right, every Thursday before 2. That’s the arbitrary week-ending deadline set by l. ron hubbard (Thursday at 2 pm) and you’d have to turn in your statistics before starting the next week’s production.
I have so much to say about this made-up, heavily enforced anxiety-producer, but I’ve got a bit of a treat for you today: A new nightmare!
That right! I had a nightmare the other night, for the first time in months. This one was different than past nightmares, however, because it was quite amusing. Here goes:
He’s baaaack! My wacky int base miscavige nightmare.
There I was, standing in the middle of a room in a red-striped long knit tank dress, like something I’d wear around the house just chillin’. I was definitely back on the int base, because the room was sparse; the only things in it were a desk, a chair, and a framed picture of l ron hubbard.
I was there to prep for a musical I was going to be part of (???) so I asked someone where my costume was. The person I was speaking to suddenly disappeared and one of miscavige’s henchmen came running in, yelling at me: “Dave wants to see you NOW!”
“Well, how am I supposed to run up and see him in a meeting when I don’t have my uniform because of the play…”
“Don’t talk back! Make it go right!”
Next thing I knew I was racing around from room to room, trying to figure out where I could find a uniform. I was getting super worried because I should’ve already been up in the conference room. Everyone else was probably waiting for me. Uh-oh.
After going through about five rooms, I suddenly looked down and saw that I was wearing the same red and white striped dress, but now I had on red shoes, white tights, and a white sweater—not a standard uniform but it would have to do. I ran out of the building and up the hill to the conference room, panting and sweating, knowing I’d be in trouble.
All of a sudden, there he was, in all his shortness: david miscavige, waiting for me in the doorway. He was shorter than I remembered (but he IS super short in any case). His hair was no longer brown but instead platinum blond, with bobby pins placed strategically throughout (that was my favorite part of the dream by far).
He began screaming at me with the usual babble: “What gives you the right to be late? You should have been here on time! I don’t wait for anyone! You’re just like the rest of them! I do all the work here and you do nothing!”
At that point—and now I knew for sure that this was a dream—I looked at him and said, “That’s enough, I’m outta here!” then turned and started walking away. I could hear him screaming in the background about how I’d never escape, how they’d find me wherever I went, all that usual crap. I’m surprised I didn’t hear him say, “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!”
The rest of the nightmare was just a bunch of fast-cut sequences of me running through collapsing buildings, avoiding the guards, and meeting up with kindred spirits who were trying to help me escape. Every time I attempted to get into a vehicle, it would blow up before I could reach it. Finally, we ended up in a stable (???) and I jumped onto a horse and rode away—”into the sunset” I’m sure.
I used to wake up crying from one of these nightmares. This time, I woke up giggling. I’ve sure come a long way.
Ok, now back to our regularly-scheduled program:
The REAL nightmare: Thursday before 2!
If you were to utter the words “Thursday before 2” to anyone who ever worked in a scientology organization at any level, they’d probably have some sort of intense, knee-jerk reaction. Those words could send chills down the spine of even the most hardened sea org member.
Frankly, it was a shock to my system when I got out of scientology and realized that the world wasn’t about to end on Thursday at 2:01 pm. I mean, I wasn’t even working for the first couple of months after I escaped, but every time Thursday would roll around, I’d get the same anxiety. It was just automatic.
It finally subsided after I’d been working at a part-time job for a few months, and realized that there was no crazy urgency to get something done before 2 on Thursday. In fact, the first time I even thought about it in the past 12 years was when I wrote my previous blog post about the birthday game. But the memories came flooding back, and I think it’s well worth exploring what this kind of enforced deadline does to a person’s head.
My first inkling of Thursday before 2 was when my field auditor—we shall call him “tim”—signed me up for an introductory auditing package. He wanted me to pay before Thursday at 2pm. I told him that I wasn’t going to get paid again until Friday and that I’d just bring the check then. He said that he’d REALLY appreciate it if I could just do it today, and that he’d even go to the bank with me if that was needed.
I asked him why it was so important and he said it “really wasn’t all that important” (LIE) and that it was just a game that they played in scientology to make it easier to keep track of things from week to week. I thought, well, fine, I don’t really care, but he sure seems to. So together, we figured out how I could pay him right then—by maxing out my credit card, of course.
The next time I heard about Thursday before 2 was when I was doing an introductory course at the mountain view mission before I was on staff. Apparently I was pretty close to completing it: The course supervisor, dave, came to me and said I was on the “comps list” for that week. I didn’t know what that meant, so he explained that I needed to complete the course by 2pm on Thursday.
“Oh, that again”, I said. He seemed a bit put-off by my cavalier non-scientologist attitude, but he quickly got himself together, smiled that cultish smile, and said he’d help me work out my schedule so we could get it done. I thought it was kind of weird that he was more interested in getting me through the course by Thursday than actually making sure I learned the information. But hey, I like a game as much as the next person, so I agreed.
From that point on, I was pretty much the guaranteed “Thursday before 2” gal in the course room, because I was a good student and a fast learner. I got a lot of praise for how fast I got through courses, so I kept doing it. I mean, positive reinforcement, y’all…
Up to that point it wasn’t too bad, and seemed like fun to get things done by Thursday at 2pm. Little did I know what lay ahead, like a tiger ready to pounce on my weakened mental state.
A typical Thursday as a scientology staff member
Once I joined staff at the mission, “Thursday before 2” became the make-or-break point for my life each week. NOTHING was more important than getting my stats up before Thursday at 2.
Here’s how a typical week would go: We’d do our jobs at a pretty standard pace until about Tuesday, when we realized that Thursday was just around the corner and we needed to work out how to have our stats up by then. That plan almost always included staying up most, if not all, of Wednesday night. Doing what, you ask? Well, how about calling people in Europe or Australia who didn’t have books yet? Or going to people’s houses in the middle of the evening and not leaving until they signed up for services? Oh, you’d be amazed at the things we did—or maybe not, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time…
The craziest thing is, even if I had my stats up, I’d feel GUILTY if I didn’t stay up on Wednesday night with the rest of them. It was sort of an implied, “You’re good, but now you need to help the rest of the team.” Plus, if the stats weren’t up on Thursday at 2, it didn’t matter how well I did personally—the overall stats were down so we were all bad. I mean, we were a team, right? The only thing that did happen was that maybe I could go home on time Thursday night. Wow, thanks.
This is the thought process: If scientology is the only thing that can save the planet and you don’t actively do whatever it takes to get your stats up by the greeeeeaaaaaat hubbard’s arbitrary Thursday at 2, then you’re just basically evil. Right?
After a few years of this, it was an automatic program in my mind: Get my stats up by Thursday at 2. Do whatever it takes. If I didn’t have a way to get the stats up that week, the anxiety would be completely overwhelming, and I’d find myself running around doing the craziest things just to try to get a book sold or a person in on service (see above).
I’m amazed that I don’t have MORE anxiety in my life these days, based on what I’ve been through. But I don’t. After a few years of trying to figure things out, I’m now living a fairly stress-free life, working from home, with deadlines that I agree to. Ain’t life grand when you’re free of arbitrary restraints.
Next: Marriage and dating as a scientology staff member! Let the games begin!