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Finding your way after leaving the cult of Scientology

The Sea Org – Where You Discover Your OT Abilities!

Another great story from our inimitable Theodora Farnsworth, who shows us once again that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Sea Org Efficiency“Did we pass?”

A small group of exhausted Sea Org members stood waiting to hear the news.

They had been up all night, scrubbing and cleaning every inch of the huge subterranean galley, the spacious cafeteria and a small private mess hall.

These rooms were located in the Main Building of the sprawling Hollywood Scientology Complex. The Main Building was the original structure of the old Cedars of Sinai Hospital which had been completed in 1930. It wasn’t easy trying to “white glove” kitchen and food service facilities that were over 50 years old.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Sea Org lingo, “to white glove” means to clean something to the point of spotlessness where an inspector wearing a white glove can pass his finger over any surface in the designated area and have the gloved finger remain perfectly white. To inspect an area with a white glove in this manner was called a “white glove inspection”.

The day before, a CMO (Commodore’s Messenger’s Org) staff member had fallen grievously ill. The order came down almost immediately, “All staff in the Estates Org are to report to the galley this evening at 10pm. No exceptions.” And no one questioned it. It was a direct order from the CMO.

After a long hard day on post, what we all wanted was a hot shower and our inviting beds. We trickled into the galley to find out what this was all about.

“A Commodore’s Messenger is sick. It is suspected that this is the result of unhygienic conditions in the galley, the cafeteria and/or the CMO mess hall. There will be a CMO white glove inspection of those areas tomorrow at 6am. Each of you will be assigned a cleaning station and you will work from now until 6am on your assigned area.”

Okay. So, no sleep tonight. And naturally no sleep tomorrow since we all had to be on post at 8am, but with luck, we’d all see our beds in twenty-four hours.

Armed with buckets of steaming hot water, disinfectant, scouring powder, degreaser, rubber gloves, brooms, mops and other cleaning aids, we resolutely went to work.

Eight hours later, exhausted but well satisfied with ourselves, we trooped off to the Estates Org course room to await the results of the white glove inspection.

“Did we pass?” we asked hopefully when the CO (Commanding Officer) entered the room with the results.

“No,” he said flatly. “Everyone is to report back to the galley at 10pm this evening to clean everything again.”

We were dumbstruck. We’d all worked so hard. We knew that you couldn’t ever get the galley and cafeteria as clean as an admin office or an auditing room but we’d done a good job. Things were cleaner than they’d ever been.

We shuffled out of the room to go shower and change our clothes so we could be ready for post at 8am.

We stumbled through the day somehow and, dressed in our grubbies again, reported to the galley that evening as ordered.

We had the same assigned areas to clean but with instructions to put special attention on the spots that hadn’t passed inspection.

Granted, it was easier cleaning everything this time since it was still clean from the night before.

Dawn arrived and with it the CMO white glove inspection team. We evaporated into the course room and sank gratefully into the plastic chairs.

Half an hour later, we looked dully at our CO, waiting for the results.

“No pass. We do it again this evening.”

This was beyond belief but we were all too tired to care or protest.

Several of the crew managed to get in a few hours of sleep during the day while on post. The Purchasing Officer fell asleep at her desk in her office on the loading dock. The elevator maintenance man ran one of the elevators to a between-floors spot, decommissioned it and curled up on the floor using his tool bag as a pillow. The telephone maintenance guy locked himself in the phone circuit room and caught a few hours of blissful sleep. The rest of us, not so lucky, did the best that we could at our posts.

10pm and we were back at it. Almost nauseous with fatigue, we went through the motions. At this point we didn’t care if we passed or not. A person can get so tired that nothing matters anymore.

At one point, someone noticed that the baker had been too quiet. Usually when he was cleaning his huge oven with the 6 foot-wide rotating shelves, we could hear the machinery working as he brought another shelf within reach. This evening we had heard nothing. Upon investigation it was found that the baker had climbed inside the oven to get at a hard-to-reach spot of dirt and had fallen asleep on one of the shelves.

A younger member of the staff who was scrubbing a tile wall passed out where she was sitting, her cheek resting on the floor. If not soft, at least the floor was clean!

Just before 6am we dragged our sorry asses into the course room and fell exhausted into the chairs. A few of the staff lay down on the big tables and were instantly asleep.

For the third time, the CO entered the room to give us the results of the inspection.

“WE PASSED!” he exclaimed jubilantly. “Good job, everyone! Now go get cleaned up and get ready for post.”

We shuffled out of the room like zombies.

All we wanted was sleep – days and days and days of beautiful, healing sleep – and then to just forget this nightmare had ever happened.

But some things are hard to forget and we carry the images of them with us in order to make sure that we never have to experience them again.

Fast forward a couple of years.

I was now on post as the Crew Steward, completely responsible for servicing the bulk of the Sea Org members who ate in the cafeteria. This also meant that the entire cafeteria was my cleaning station and mine alone. We were desperately understaffed by that time in the Estates Org and everyone was spread thin.

On that particular day, lunch had just ended and I knew that if I worked quickly and efficiently, I could get everything cleaned up and have some time left over to enjoy a walk around the block before setting up for dinner.

It was August in Los Angeles and the temperature was climbing into the 90’s every day. The cafeteria was not air-conditioned and only one of the big plate glass windows could be opened to let in any air.

I had no idea what kind of interesting things can happen when you have a combination of extreme heat and garbage. I was about to find out.

First, I bused all the tables, scraping the garbage into the huge plastic trash bins and putting the dishes on a 4-shelf, 6 foot high metal cart. Someone would come and take the dirty dishes and the garbage away later.

Next, I wiped down all the tables and chairs. Then I filled a mop bucket with hot soapy water and started to clean the cafeteria floor so that you could walk across it without the soles of your shoes adhering to it. Yes, it did get that sticky during a single meal.

I’d joined the Sea Org because I’d heard that it was comprised of real OTs – a handful of very able beings who could make things go right no matter what. I didn’t feel very much like an OT as I swabbed the floor with my wet mop. And it didn’t look like I was ever going to develop any OT abilities any time soon at this rate.

The cafeteria area included a little room with a dumb waiter in it which was sometimes used to send dirty dishes down to the dishwashing area below. Extra tables and chairs were also stored here. This room was about 10 x 20 feet. Accessed by a small door, the interior of the room was not visible to the cafeteria.

Moping down the dumb waiter room floor was my last job. Then I would be free to go.

The heat was really intense on this particular afternoon. I paused to wipe the sweat from my face with my t-shirt before tackling this last section of my cleaning station. Then I pushed my mop bucket through the door of the dumb waiter room and stood gaping at the sight before my eyes.

At first I thought maybe the heat had gotten to me.

The whole floor and parts of the walls were moving!

Then, to my horror, I realized what I was looking at.

Instead of taking the garbage from last night’s dinner out to the dumpster, someone had just shoved the big bins into the dumb waiter room and left them there.

Flies had laid their eggs in the rotting garbage and, aided by the heat, these eggs had rapidly hatched into an undulating wave of maggots.

There were maggots EVERYWHERE!

THOUSANDS of them!

A solid carpet of them was humping along in an ever-widening circle away from the trash cans. The floor and walls were covered with them. The tables and chairs were rippling with them. They were climbing into the dumb waiter. Dozens of them had made it to the ceiling and were dripping back onto the floor below, the pull of gravity being stronger than whatever they used to cling to things. They were even falling in my hair!

In less than a second, I had analyzed the situation. My mind raced ahead to the predictable outcome if this horrendous invasion wasn’t stopped immediately.

Two possible ghastly scenarios played through my mind.

The least horrible of the two was that someone from the CMO would discover this living carpet of fly larvae and we’d all be back doing another sleep-depriving white glove. It could get that crazy. I’d seen it happen before.

Far worse than that was the fact that maggots become flies within hours of hatching. The higher the temperature, the faster the metamorphosis occurs. That would mean that the entire cafeteria could be swarming with thousands of flies by breakfast time, if not sooner. There would be no way to get rid of that many flies and the cafeteria would be unusable for days.

Doing a white glove would be nothing compared to our fates if this were allowed to happen. Nothing less than immediate assignment to the RPF would be the only fitting punishment and the targets could be anyone and everyone even remotely connected to this disaster.

I had to do something and I had to do it FAST!

Assessing my resources, I knew there was no one I could call on to help me. Besides, it would take too long to go and find help. A CMO staff member could stumble on this scene while I was gone and assume that no one was doing anything about it. At least if I were there, trying, it would look better.

So it was just me – armed only with my simple cleaning equipment – against an army of thousands which was on the move and spreading out at a rate of about half an inch per second. It was completely disgusting and overwhelming, but I didn’t stop to think about it. I knew what HAD to be done and there was no room for any considerations like, “I can’t do this!” I just had the intention to get rid of all those maggots before anyone else saw them.

I will not go into the details of how I made that room maggot-free. I have described it to others in the past and strong men have had to excuse themselves and go outside to puke in the bushes.

In less than an hour, the entire mess was safely contained in plastic bags. I lugged these out to the back of the building and swung them in a high arc to get them into the massive roll-away dumpster.

I staggered back inside. I had just enough time to shower and put on clean clothes so that I could go set up for dinner.

No one ever found out about the maggots. I kept it to myself. Life went calmly on for the Estates Org.

I am no longer in the Sea Org but I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world. It may have been rough at times but I discovered abilities and strengths that I would have never found otherwise. I learned that I can confront almost anything – no matter how overwhelming – and that I can rise above my own considerations to get something done when necessary.

I will be forever grateful to the Sea Org for this.

And The Maggot Story is always good for a laugh.

~~Theodora Farnsworth

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7 Comments

jeff  on July 28th, 2014

Thank God I took LSD!

Juggernaut  on July 28th, 2014

You have my complete admiration.

John Doe  on July 29th, 2014

Great story, Theodora!

It brought back a lot of memories. I know all those places you described. And I’m glad you’ve embraced those difficult experiences and transcended them. Good for you!

Similarly, I’m glad for the time I spent in the SO and what I learned I could do. I feel sorry for those who only have bitterness about it.

Please keep telling your tales!

Xenu Built My Hot Rod  on July 30th, 2014

That sounds like something right out of Starship Troopers, man! VWD!

D'Anne  on July 31st, 2014

I want to know how you got rid of the maggots!! How in the world could you accomplish that so quickly? Egad!

hei88008  on July 31st, 2014

I want to use this opportunity to apologize to anyone who might have felt, that I’ve misused the power invested in me, by having been a white-glove-inspector myself.

I think I was just – but looking back, things often look differenty. Especially from the point of view from another human being.

So…
Sorry for any possible injustice it could have acted as.

theodora  on August 1st, 2014

hei88008,
I understand! We were both doing the jobs we were assigned at the time. It was all part of the game we agreed to play back then. You can let it go now!
Love,
Theodora

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