“What do you want more of in your life, Yvonne?”
The question was provided as a way to break the ice between the participants. It was a Powerful Question – capital P, capital Q. Employed with the right coaching hands, a Powerful Question could cut through the bullshit people tell themselves and others, or so she’d learned a couple weeks ago. Right now, Yvonne was knee-deep in bullshit and trying really hard not to gag on the sugar in the room.
“Oh, I don’t know, Stephanie. I’ll try to think up another answer from the ten I’ve already given to the others around the room. I want more…blue sky in my life.” Despite having her Spidey-senses instinctively engage upon entering the room (“Beware! Beware! Full alert!”), Yvonne vowed to give this meeting a chance.
Stephanie laughed at what was apparently the funniest thing she’d heard since the last thunderstorm. Yvonne’s plastered-on smile wavered.
“And you, Stephanie? What do you want more of in life?”
“Boldness,” she said in bold.
Yvonne quickly disengaged her hand from the seemingly perpetual grasp of the sugary-yet-bold grip of Stephanie, and looked around to find someone she hadn’t questioned. She was saved, instead, by the the facilitator calling them back to their seats.
“And how was that?” the facilitator asked, his blinding smile too white against his spray tan. “How did you feeeel asking that question?” The slickness in the way he said ‘feel’ slid down Yvonne’s ears and the back of her throat. Gooseflesh crept along her arms. She felt a sudden need to disinfect her entire body.
The participants sat in what Yvonne initially thought of a support group circle. Granted, she’d never been in a support group, but she’d seen of them plenty on TV. Chairs arranged in a ‘U’ with a facilitator at the head, beverages behind. And usually there was some sort of propaganda behind the facilitator. Check, check, and check. It was all here. She vaguely wondered if there’d be a prayer at some point. Maybe they’d have to hold hands. Maybe they’d have to sing.
The participants crooned, “It was really good”, “I felt connected”, “It was deep.” Oh, god. Maybe Yvonne would start praying by herself for herself.
It was now half an hour into the trial session of coach training. It was free. Yvonne was looking into doing coaching training after her previous transcendental experience, and going to a free trial session seemed like a good idea. But now, in the windowless, low-ceilinged, one-exit room in the basement of a downtown hotel, full of people already drunk on some kind of Kool-Aid, Yvonne was doubting her decision to come here. Meanwhile, her Spidey-senses continued to scream a distress call.
“These squares,” the facilitator had risen and was now pointing to the propaganda behind his seat, “represent the four corner stones of our organization. If you look on the floor,” Yvonne looked down to see blue tape on the carpeted floor, “you’ll see you’re sitting on four squares, just like these corner stones. And this hyphen here — and the yellow line on the floor — represents the joining of you with our organization. You are welcome!”
One chance, that was her vow. That chance was now long gone. It was only a matter of minutes, Yvonne was sure, before they’d be wheeling in the punch bowl and the purple shoelaces.
Yvonne fought the urge to run. She remained in her seat and re-examined the room. One exit. No windows. Four ‘volunteers’ spread out equidistant behind the participants, one near the one exit. Could she get up now and make it there before they cut her off at the pass?
What if the door was locked? She’d just finished watching how the Historians on Travelers were locked into a room and slaughtered. Shit. Historians. Slaughtered. Yvonne was willing to bet large sums of money that she was the only archaeologist in the room. How they found out, she didn’t know. She didn’t want to stick around and find out.
Yvonne searched her memory banks as Crisis Management (or Indiana Jones Resourcefulness Training) shifted her foresight into high gear and her pulse into low gear. Clarity and calm washed over her and a plan began to form.
She fished around the back of her chair into the pocket of her coat — thankfully withheld from the insistent ‘volunteer’ who wanted to take her coat away for unknown, but likely nefarious reasons — and pulled out her keys. If anything, she could jab an eye of anyone barring her escape. Yes, that’s it.
At that moment, the facilitator took out some cards and came towards them. “I’m going to place these on the four corner stones. Please pull back your chairs so that you can participate in this activity.”
Yvonne grabbed her bag, her jacket, and with keys sticking out from between her fingers, made for the door.
A ‘volunteer’ walked towards her. Yvonne braced but continued to the door.
The ‘volunteer’ moved on, attending to a participant.
Yvonne was two strides away. She grabbed the door handle and turned. It didn’t budge. She flinched as a thread of panic surged through her body. Then Crisis Management kicked in again and Yvonne pulled the door.
Another ‘volunteer’ looked Yvonne’s way, but it was too late. She ran up the stairs to the hotel lobby and flew through the front door in ten seconds flat. She drove the long way home in case they were watching her, the lone archaeologist who got away.
Will Yvonne continue to pursue training to become a certified coach? Will Yvonne do any more free or discounted sessions offered for training? Will Yvonne’s imagination conjure up a novel regarding cult kidnappings and windowless rooms in hotels?