Monday, November 15, 2004

Distressed Sloth

This past Saturday at Planned Parenthood was particularly stressful. I've been escorting for four or five years now and this ranked among the top five most difficult shifts I've ever worked. I, in particular, get a lot of flack while I'm working because I look at least five years younger than I am and I'm small - just over five feet tall. Sometimes the protesters tend to single me out because I look like the runt of the litter; the most vulnerable. But I'm not. I'm like the guard at fucking Buckingham Palace. You can't faze me. I'll admit, when I first started escorting I did find the personal heckling very distressing. But now, I've been doing this so long that it really takes a lot to get a reaction out of me, which is what they want. A reaction. They're just ACHING to get into it with us. Only once have I ever lost my cool, and I learned that day what a giant mistake it is to show a chink in your armor. Ruth. She's........sofuckinghorrible. I can't tell you how this woman drives me up the wall. She stands right inside the buffer zone SCREAMING at the top of her lungs all the usual stuff about you're a mother, mothers don't murder their children, you're doing an evil thing, blah blah blah. Well, this one day she had a gigantic umbrella that was basically blocking the whole doorway. Even though the fine print of the law does allow her to stand inside the buffer zone (didn't know that, did you?) she can't block the entrance. But the cops that are supposed to watch the clinic and help us out don't seem to care much about a woman's right to choose and convincing them to get off their butts and enforce the law is like trying to get hair off soap. It's just not happening. So I was already mad. But then she poked one of the escorts in the eye with her umbrella and I just kind of lost it. I angrily told her to get her umbrella out of the doorway and watch where she was standing. BIG MISTAKE. That goddamn woman dogged me for the next two hours, yelling in my ear about killing and murder and going to hell and blah blah blah. They finally had to send me home because she was rendering my presence entirely ineffectual, which I suppose was the whole point of her being there. So anyway, I woke up at 6:30 this past Saturday morning and it was bucketing snow outside. I was like, fuck this, I'm not going anywhere. Then I laid in bed arguing with myself for half an hour until I finally decided that if I was this loathe to go to Planned Parenthood, then maybe none of the other escorts would show up either so I had better get off my ass. When I got there I encountered a protester who I had never seen before. She was Latina, very beautiful, probably in her early forties, and she was an extremely effective protester. I was the first escort she singled out, but she eventually accosted everyone one at a time and then made her way back to me again. She got right up in my grill and begged me to "educate myself" and find out what was really happening in that "death camp." She said, "You're young, you don't know what you're doing, you think you're helping women but you're hurting them," and then she started crying, blah blah blah. Try to imagine this for a second. You're an escort standing on a freezing cold sidewalk and a woman is hollering in your face in a way is actually sort of embarrassing. You can't speak because you have a job to do and you have to stay focused. She wants to distract you, she wants to get into it with you, she wants to keep you from doing your job, she wants to make the patients more vulnerable by effectively taking out one of the escorts. So you look past her while she's yammering away at you and you try not to lose your cool. That's stressful enough. Then add a woman who thinks she's the next Ann Coulter, orating for two hours straight, nonstop about evil, baby-hating liberals, Ruth with her giant umbrella (which she was blocking the door with again) and the big prayer group that shows up on second Saturdays with the podium and the loudspeaker and the singing off-key. It was just a nightmare. And then the new protester, the one who was all in my grill, followed one of the escorts home and went into her building and threatened her and the escort ran all the way back to the clinic without a coat on and we had to call the cops and it was a big mess and the whole thing was just very very stressful, blah blah blah. Sometimes I wonder how many more years I can keep this up.