The Proselytizing Passenger

October 28, 2009

in Passenger Stories

I was on a flight to Tampa to visit with family. I live in the northern US and so it was nice to be able to go down and not only spend a little time with family, but to get out to the beaches for some R&R as well. So I packed up my vacation gear and headed to the airport in good spirits. I did hit a snag in traffic and worried a bit about missing my flight, but I arrived just in time and was able to board almost as soon as I arrived at the gate. So far things were looking my way! When I got on board a slight man sat in the aisle next to me, leaving a space between us and leaving me the window. Looked like it was going to be a good flight.

That is until after we took off. After a few minutes of shuffling through a small book bag and tugging out books and papers for a while, the man coughed a few times and leaned over and started to talk. I was watching Spaceballs (how ironic!) on my video Ipod and had to pause and remove my headphones to find out what he wanted. It started with small talk, him introducing himself and pattering on about how he was going down to Clearwater for some kind of religious training. As he talked, I nodded and tried to feign slight interest because I’m a bit over polite and was really wanting to get back to my show and thoughts of the beach. But he had this stare to him, these eyes that kind of bored and were starting to creep me out. I finally asked what religion he was in since he seemed intent on engaging me in small talk and he clammed up for a moment, looked about as if worried and finally said, “I’m a Scientologist.”

Now at the time I had no idea what that was (later I googled it and whoa daddy… but that is another story) but I just nodded and was like, “Oh.” Then he began to preach. I had walked into it, I knew I was walking into it when I asked him what religion he was in and I did it anyway. I was kicking myself as he tried to shove a book called “Dianetics” or something like that under my nose and yammered on about how the man who wrote it (L. Ron Hubbard) was a great man whose discoveries were going to save the world. He went on about how I should read the book and how it would “improve conditions” and “blow out” my bad feelings. That is the way he talked, it was very very strange. Finally I asked him how you could mix science and religion. Wrong question. He became upset and accused me of “hate speech.” I told him at this point he could stuff his book and his preaching as well as L. Ron Hubbard where the sun did not shine and went back to my Ipod movie. His face went almost black with rage and he didn’t say another word the rest of the flight.

It should have been over but when I got off the plane, I caught him following me and taking my photo with his cell phone. I went to confront him and he took off running. I should have gotten security involved but I just wanted to get away from that airport and the crazy and away to my family and the relaxing beach. So I continued on. I later found out from my grandmother that these Scientologists are a really big problem in the Tampa Bay area (they own like half of downtown Clearwater) and are known as the local creepy cult. I can see why. So if you are heading on a flight to sunny Tampa, St. Petersburg or Clearwater, avoid religion as a conversation topic and if any your passengers wants to show you a Scientology book or talk L. Ron Hubbard with you. Decline. Politely.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

madachode October 28, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Yes they are here, during the lunch hour you can see them walking like drones around downtown Clearwater. People have the right in this country to follow any religion they want but when its rammed in my face that's when it crosses the line. Google the St Pete Times editorial on Scientology,its a 3 part writing that can explain what goes on in Clearwater.


madachode October 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm

You should have taken that book to that bathroom and had a "blow out" on it. Asking why a person who wrote a book for profit can turn science fiction into a religion.


Anna October 28, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Oh yeah they're huge in Florida! Why do you think Travolta has a home there? 🙂


Kat January 15, 2010 at 7:09 am

When the passenger stated that "…he was going down to Clearwater for some kind of religious training", I knew where this story was headed.


Peace Lover June 27, 2010 at 9:27 am

We have a church for scientology in my hometown but I hold nothing against them as I too come from a religion that some may find odd.


Eunice June 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Pray tell us Peace, what is your religion if I may ask?


Peace Lover June 28, 2010 at 12:01 am

I'm wiccan. For those who are unfamiliar with wicca it is the practice of magic and the worship of the earth.


MM June 28, 2010 at 12:10 am

oh neat! Unfortunately for you I probably have an unusually tolerant view of Wicca…in thinking that you're no crazier than any Christian, Jew or Muslim. (Or a member of any other religion.)


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