A few months after my first visit to the Melbourne Org, I paid a return visit. One thing noticeable was that the light level inside was considerably dimmer than my previous visit. The furniture had also been rearranged, with a desk, similar to the one in L Ron Hubbard's office, placed so that it partly blocked the space between the two large bookshelves at the front of the org.
A very young teenager, no more than 16 years old, and more likely 14, sat behind the desk looking nervous and unsure. Just as she rose to greet me, a small, slim, fair-haired middle-aged woman hurried out to intercept - er, greet me, waving the very young teenager back to the desk. Her most notable feature was her flat, hard, fanatical eyes. No, there's no hyperbole there, that really is the only way to describe this ladies' eyes.
We talked for a little while. I asked questions like, what is this place, what do you sell, who is this L Ron Hubbard, etc. When I asked if I could listen to a sample of his talks, the lady bristled, saying that they didn't let just anyone listen to them, they were only for the "dedicated", and more or less indicated that dedication meant buying a copy. Apparently the difference between dedication and non-dedication is the money you hand over.
I pointed out that with Dale Carnegie and other motivational speakers you see on TV, they provide a sample so that you know what you're buying, and that usual business practice was to let a customer try a sample.
This confused the fair-haired lady somewhat, and she explained that while she couldn't play the tapes for me, there was a DVD explaining dianetics that I could watch. I agreed to this, and after firmly and quietly instructing the nervous young teenager, (who was clearly worried about what to do without her torm - excuse me, mentor present), fair-haired lady escorted me to the indoctrin - sorry, another typo - I mean DVD viewing room. Inside there were instructional posters on topics such as the tone scale, what is dianetics, etc. After a fair wait, with regular checks to make sure I was still inside the room, I had to patiently listen to a lecture from fair-haired lady explaining all the information that I had already read - and reread - on the posters. She was determined to go through them all and didn't like it very much when I asked questions. Some questions she could answer easily, but others seemed to throw her off her stride a bit. After a bit I just tried to watch her attentively and nodded a lot.
After all this, I finally got to watch the DVD, which I can't remember much of, other than the laughable image of the "sinister" stage hypnotist. When it had finished, the fair-haired lady asked me what I thought of it, and I replied that while it was interesting and had given me a lot to think about, I was disappointed that I still hadn't seen any footage of L Ron Hubbard, and couldn't they show me some of the video of him sitting in that bookshelf right there? This confused the fair-haired lady and she briefly retired to consult with a younger man just outside the room, then returned to say that unfortunately, the video player was broken and they couldn't play it. I then left, after a few more comments on how interesting the visit had been, and how it had given me a lot to think about.
I only saw 3 people the whole time I was there, and the place was very quiet. There was always somebody nearby, and I wasn't allowed to wander around the way I had been the first time. This second visit was a lot more offputting, due to the tight control exercised over me the whole time, the clear fanaticism of the fair-haired lady (those eyes!) and the general dodginess of their business practices. What sort of self-help business claims it's founder is all these wonderful things, yet won't let you listen to excerpts of the great man's talks? You would have thought that they'd be playing a tape to inspire the troops but no, not even that. Even without Operation Clambake I would have thought that the place was a cult. And it certainly did NOT seem in the slightest like a religion. And what about the teenager at the front desk? She should definitely have been in school.
The whole experience was so disturbing that I put off posting my experiences until now, quite a few months later.