These years were so intense it is hard to describe. So much happened in a relatively short time, stories may be a little out of sequence so I will just go with the flow.
As I had left school and had sort of been ‘set free’ within the boundaries of Saint Hill, it became obvious I had to do something with my life. Anything outside scientology was out of the question so the obvious answer was to work on staff. I worked in Mimeo in the Foundation org (evening shift) and was quickly snapped up to also be the Receptionist for the whole place. It was drummed into me that I was the “face of Saint Hill” and I liked that responsibility. I was quite a happy young person, so ‘meeting and greeting’ was fun. The switchboard was a huge old plug board and at times it was too busy for one person alone, so there would be someone else helping with that. Most of the time though the Receptionist was also handling all the incoming and outgoing phones as well as people coming and going, making it a hugely busy job.
Scientology is totally run on “stats” – statistics. The ‘end of the week’ is Thursday at 2pm, life becomes frantic just before then as ‘stats’ have to be higher than the week before, as “Ethics conditions” were applied according to them. I think my ‘stat’ at the time was something to with the number of people who came into Reception as I remember willing people to walk in that door on many a Thursday so I wouldn’t be penalised! I worked with the Registrar and Treasury (self-explanatory) to speed people through to their next service and looking back it was an example of high-speed selling at its best. Very few came in through Reception >Reg>Treasury without parting with money and this ‘line’ was drilled and drilled and drilled to make it super efficient.
I remember one day a woman came in and she was hysterical and crying, saying that her husband had just hanged himself and she needed to see the Guardians Office immediately (they took care of PR, Legal and Intelligence). I sent her to the appropriate person and didn’t hear another word about it. I was pretty shocked at the time and this was my first glimpse into the other side of scientology and one didn’t dare to ask questions.
I was working two jobs – basically day shift and night shift. ‘Meal breaks’ were only if you were lucky, mostly lunch was a run across to the ‘Canteen’ for a high-priced snack. This area was supposed to be just for public, not staff, though as it was one of the few places for relaxing, many staff used it too. During the changeover from Day to FND (night) organisations many people rushed home to eat, for me this was often not possible. Even getting home to East Grinstead (the closest local town where most scientologists lived) at night was a total nightmare at times and meant standing in the car park and begging a lift from students or public going that way, unless my parents were also going home. I eventually left the evening staff job, and my new ‘post’ was as Qualifications Division Reception, welcoming and directing those people into the area of correction of training or processing.
My personal life changed too. After some months my love in Australia, Chris, had stopped answering my letters, so I wrote to Peter Sparshott in Sydney who told me he had died. It was a terrible shock, as Chris apparently had known he was ill and hadn’t wanted to tell me. Even though I grieved, I was young and surrounded by so many people from different countries and cultures that life soon began to go on, as it does. There was such an enthusiasm in those days that bound all these strangers together and made life seem dynamic and exciting. Hard work didn’t matter; it was something you did because you were part of it and happy to be so.
Inevitably I met a soul mate and fell in love, and that led to the next inevitability for a naive young Aussie teenager in a strange land and a strange culture….pregnancy.