My job (or rather, my workplace) is kind of bizarre. I mean when you think about the abortion issue a lot, some things start to seem commonplace. But then when you take it out of the context of an abortion clinic, it's like, holy hell that's weird. The weird, almost illegibly religious (it exists) faxes and emails, the strange questions, the inability to do certain normal things. It is a weird work environment.
You think it can't really get any more bizarre, but the protesters are always willing to kick it up a notch. It's hard to describe how they do this, because to the casual observer it's not noticable. As SL was telling me today, it's hardly even worth bothering to talk about the creepiness, because very few people will understand.
It's the signless women - the Holy Ghost and Glarey Mary. Mostly Glarey Mary. It's not that she stares at people - many of the protesters do that - but she really GLARES, with all the hatred and meanness she can muster. She looks...mean. If she glares at you, you can't help but immediately feel as if she hates you, which is just weird. She doesn't even know us, or most of the people she glares at. But the feeling of it is intense. I have never (to my knowledge) been glared at with such vitriol in all my life, nor have most people, I imagine. On an intellectual level, I obviously don't care what Glarey Mary thinks of me, but on an emotional one, it can wear you down. More than one escort has switched from the back to the front, or even come inside for a few minutes, just to experience not being glared at for a while.
Glarey Mary and the Holy Ghost together are trying to do something that Crazy Legs used to do, but more subtly; swarming. Crazy Legs used to run up to people and to cars, and do everything short of getting in the front seat with people in order to block them from entering the clinic. She was loud and obnoxious and awful about it. These two are slower, quieter and creepier, which might just be worse. It's putting the escorts in a situation where they have to do what we used to have to do all the time (before the threat of a bubble zone); put their bodies in between the protesters and the patients. It's all you can do, really.
This return to old techniques on the part of the protesters makes me worry for the physical safety of both my escorts and the patients. Which is exactly the argument behind the bubble zone.
There was more nonsense yesterday - some of the male protesters were riling each other up, in the words of one of the escorts (KR). They were talking loudly about "murder" and saying they hoped "they" (hmm...who could that mean?) lost sleep, and woke up blind, or with boils, and so on. It reminds me of last week (or was it the week before) when one of them told the doctor that he hoped her hands would shake. That is some mean, nasty, old-timey prayer. I'm talking Inquisition-timey prayer. Since when do people pray that bad things will happen to other people? What kind of Christianity is that?
So to sum up, there have been a lot of subtle changes that have made the overall picture seem a lot crazier than it did before. Maybe they're up to something, maybe there's something in the air. Maybe they're just getting frustrated. I thought I'd seen it all that time that Peter Ryan came outside cradling a huge statue of the Virgin Mary in his arms, but every week I start to feel more confident that they are capable of something even stranger. I'm just on the edge of my seat to see what it is.