First off, I want to extend my sincere apologize to anyone who showed up at the Sheraton between 11AM and 1PM at the meeting spot and didn't see me. Unfortunately, my event organizing skills could use a little work. Lydia Brown of autistichoya was kind enough to post the event to the Occupy JRC list, but still, this fell in the middle of the work day. I heard back from one potential volunteer, but it turned out later that she was unable to attend. When I didn't see any other volunteers outside a little after 11AM, I decided to go in by myself.
Let's back up a little, The morning of the fair, it occurred to me that people might not just be able to waltz into the fair without some genuine job-seeker bona fides. I had already printed up my flyers, but I whipped up some fake resumes for myself and potential volunteers. From google, I knew that there was a print shop at the same address. When I arrived around 10:30, I realized the FedEx was inside the hotel, so inside I went and the nice helpful man printed off my obviously fake resumes from a thumb drive with anti-JRC flyers on it 30 feet away from the job fair. There were a couple people in the shop who looked like fair staff, whoops. I headed back outside, but yeah, it was just me. I was too antsy to wait, so in I went. If I'd been clever, I could have left a packet of flyers under a tree or something. Ah well, I didn't think of it. Sorry again.
Inside the Sheraton, there was already a line of about 50 people waiting to go in to the fair room. The line snaked longer around a huge anteroom as I waited. It was a professional do. They had a water bubbler and a candy dish and everything. There were Serious Business Dudes with walky talkies and they were only letting in about ten new people at a time. It felt weird to be an imposter in line. Luckily, my nerves were appropriate for the context. I chatted with the people in front of me and behind me. None of them were there for the JRC. Turns out I did need to drop off a resume, so the fake ones came in handy. Once inside, I saw the JRC table right away as they had a great spot right by the door! That pissed me right off again. I walked around for a bit to scope out the situation. there were 25-30 tables and at least 75 people milling around. A little bit after I arrived, I saw an older woman in a green dress walk away from the table. I approached her and asked what she knew about the center. She told me general things, and then I gave her the scoop. To my disbelief and sadness, this woman broke my heart - she told me that people had done something similar to the JRC aversive "therapy" to her as a child because she was considered slow, and she is affected by that trauma to this day. She was interested in the JRC because she thought it was the kind of place that would help kids like her.
So, that's how it went. I scoped out my JRC recruits, excused myself, asked them what they knew about the center, and then asked if they knew that the JRC had been condemned by the UN for torture. That turned out to be an effective opener! I gave out copies of the Occupy JRC fact sheet and a flyer I made up to those who were interested, which most folks were. Almost everyone was surprised and appalled to learn about their practices. Only two people had heard about the JRC's use of aversives, and one was a job coach from Bay Cove there with a coachee. (The other was a woman who must have spent 15 minutes at the table. She said something like "oh yeah, I know they taze the kids." !!!! Fortunately, she didn't really want the job.) A couple people were job-hunting on behalf of their spouses, which was very sweet. One gentleman said his wife was in the social work community, and "knew everybody," and would pass on the news. I sure hope so.
I missed a few people who left before I could catch them, but I got a fair percentage. I think I spoke to about 25 people in all.
I tried to be discreet, but was finally noticed by the woman at the JRC table around 1PM. (Weird thing about her - she looked to be about my age, with funky glasses and a dress similar to one I own. I never would have picked her for that job. I really wanted to ask her how she sleeps at night, but I didn't get the chance.) One of the immaculately-suited job fair bouncers came over and politely but firmly asked me to leave, after telling me I could not say negative things and disturb his fair. I assented, gave him some flyers "to read later," and headed back to the meeting spot, but, as I mentioned, I didn't see anyone there. After giving it another half an hour, I split and had myself a grilled cheese by the reflecting pool.
I won't lie, it felt really good to warn nice people away from that wretched shithole. It turned out to be a really rough week for other reasons, but looking back on the fair, I only wish I could have stayed longer and talked to every last person there.