Monday, 28 June 2010

Swindling Scientologists

Job Applications: 8
Interviews: 0
Pitches: 4
Commissions: 0

In an attempt to distance myself from our slack national football team, I got straight in on the job-hunting act at 10am this morning. By midday I had pitched four feature ideas, e-mailed one job application and contacted one potential business contact about an idea that has been simmering in the back of my mind for some time now.

Once that was out the way, I gave myself a pat on the head. Literally. I felt a bit weird doing it, but I knew it was deserved. I had done more in those two hours than I had in the previous two days.

After the head-patting-induced endorphins had dissipated, a crashing realisation hit me like a bus to the balls. I still wasn't doing enough. Despite my (albeit sporadic) job applications and feature pitches, I was still just doing the same as every other graduate of this uniquely-unfortunate academic year. I needed to try something else.

I also needed/wanted American Dad! Season 5 on DVD and some nice shorts, so I headed to central London to make some purchases and consider my next course of action.

As I exited Oxford Circus station, I was handed a card by a creepily chirpy-looking man. It was an invite to a screening of The Story of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health at the Dianetics and Scientology Life Improvement Centre in Tottenham Count Road.

Excited at the prospect of 'achieving my goals' by doing nothing more than watching a short film about 'the most popular book on the mind ever written', I quickly made my necessary purchases and headed for the Centre.

On arrival I was greeted by an enthusiastic and attractive girl called Natalie. She had a glint in her eye, a spring in her step, and a whole host of other cliche characteristics that suggested that she was far from the brainwashed cult-member that I had been expecting. After reassuring me that, no, I wasn't too late for the film, she showed me to the empty screening room, switched off the lights and disappeared... no stage did any sacreligious thoughts enter my mind.

As the film started, I began to get a sense of why this philosophy/cult/religion/pseudoscience had obtained such notoriety. There were odd symbols on the walls of the theatre, the chair was suspiciously comfortable (as if it didn't want me to leave...) and founder L. Ron Hubbard's name was mentioned in the opening sequence at least 10 times between blinks.

Overall, the film itself was pretty uninspiring. It didn't really answer any questions about what Dianetics or Scientology actually were; rather it just relentlessly bigged up the supreme master of the mind (L. Ron Hubbard, in case you were wondering), for a good 20 minutes.

I exited the film unconvinced. Despite his incredible observation that the mind could affect the body, and even though he had been awarded an impressive number of scout badges in his youth, L. Ron Hubbard seemed no closer to solving my unemployment problems than any of the disinterested temp agency workers I'd encountered in the past 6 weeks.

A different, less enthusiastic-looking woman called Margaret approached me in reception to ask if I liked the film. "The production values were surprisingly good," I answered. "There must be a lot of money in this business". She wasn't amused, and after failing to persuade me to buy a copy of Dianetics, she ushered Natalie over to answer all my questions.

To her credit, she did very well. I could tell that she was intelligent and well-read, and was quick to answer many of the questions that I raised. However, this made it all the more tragic that she believed the pseudoscience that she was so readily preaching.

Before leaving, I had a go on an e-meter. I held the metal things while Natalie asked me to think of something that was concerning me. This would be the starting point of my therapy. By identifying the problem, my journey to enlightenment could begin.

Of course, I thought about the job situation and waited for the dial to move.

It didn't.

Maybe I'm not worried about unemployment after all!

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