Monday January 11th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the coach.

We've signed Max up for soccer class, which runs Monday afternoons at the community centre gym. I'll be taking him for as long as it goes, as long as I continue my search for a job. It's for 3 to 5 year olds, so pretty basic stuff - dribbling, kicking, that sort of thing. At least that's how it started; we'll see what future weeks have in store for us.

Max enjoyed it but wanted me pretty close. I'm hoping he'll get more comfortable soon and I can just leave the coach to his work while I watch from the stands.

Speaking of the coach, Max was doing a pretty impressive impression of him after we got back home. Which, obviously, involved him telling me what to do. I got a video of part of it on my phone that I suspect I'll be sharing pretty soon.


I dial the number from memory and eye my surroundings while I wait for an answer. I don't like what I see.

It's dark in here, but there's enough light to see the water pooling on the floor. I'm not sure where the nearest toilet is but I'm pretty sure I'd find it if I traced the leak back to its source. I'd tried calling four different plumbers but they'd all hung up as soon as I'd given them the address.

The desk situation is precarious at best. I'd say the left end is a good inch lower than the right and all but one of the drawers are stuck closed. That's probably a good thing. At any rate, I haven't tried too hard to get them open.

My call goes to voice mail just as the furnace in the next room roars to life like a drunken, misplaced lion. I can barely hear the recorded message but I don't need to. I know it by heart at this point.

"Hi Curtis," I say after the beep as I head for the door. I force myself to resist the temptation to drop a match in my wake. "I think we're done, buddy. Thanks for nothing and I hope you rot in hell."

It's a fresh start for me. Now I'm in need of a new job and a new life coach.


morganna said...

Run and yell
Urging them on
Today's the big day
All his work will be judged
Will his turtle win the
All-County Turtle Race?

Greg said...

@Morganna: that's a great little poem, a complete contrast to the darkness of Marc's piece! And I didn't see the turtle coming at all!

@Marc: it sounds like Max likes soccer, so I'd guess that you'll be dismissed this time next week as he decides that he doesn't need you there to watch. And I like the fact he's taken to ordering you around... I bet Kat finds it amusing too!
I like the sound of this Curtis, he seems to be a coach who believes in making sure you see what life is really like and not sugar-coating it for you. Though I can see that your narrator may not feel quite the same way about it: that's quite the office that he's ended up in there. I'm delighted to say that I've never been in a situation quite that sorry myself! The details of the plumbers and furnace are very nice – I think you're better at this scene-setting that you care to admit :)

Story follows in the next post as I've exceeded the 4096 character limit :(

Greg said...

The coach
The skinny lady from HR, the one all the women in the office referred to as "the bitch" when she was out of earshot, had booked the boardroom for the training session. One by one the project managers had arrived, most of them scuffling along with their heads down, checking their phones for work email that kept coming even though they were in a life-coaching session. George turned up with a large three-ring binder in his arms, and the others nodded quietly and looked pityingly at him: six-sigma was a hard taskmaster and they'd all been there.
There were bottles of still and fizzy water on a table at the back of the room, but they were ignored in favour of the plastic thermoses of coffee and the plate of chocolate Hob-nobs. For roughly thirty seconds there was absolute peace in the room as people crunched biscuits and drank coffee and didn't have to pay for it.
"Everybody! Welcome!" The life-coach was a short young man with visible muscles, clear skin and bubbling over with energy. For a moment he faltered as the wave of hatred from the participants washed over him, and then he rallied. "My name's Luke, and I'm your coach today! We're going to start off with a simple getting-to-know-you-game, and then we'll move onto some trust exercises!"
Everyone looked at everyone, and no-one smiled. Simon and Deborah, who were always ready to be difficult in meetings, turned to the coffee flasks and started getting more coffee.
"For getting to know you," said Luke, still sounding chirpy and confident, "we're going to play the french-kissing game! Turn to the person next to you, look deep into their eyes, and french-kiss them!"
George dropped his binder in shock, and Penelope screamed and ran for the door. Which proved to be locked.
"Just kidding!" Luke held both his arms up in the air like he'd just won a race. "I know you all know each other already. But did you notice that none of you even attempted that? That's a measure of the lack of trust you all have, and that's why we need to do trust exercises!"
"Look, Puke," said George. He put his hands on his hips. "I don't know what that bitch has told you, but in the last five months we've lost 30% of our head-count. And they were all sacked, by surprise. Three of them got text messages sacking them while they were on holiday, and Simone, who's the nicest girl you'll ever meet, came in and found her replacement sitting at her desk and reading her email. All of us have been randomly shuffled around teams, sometimes twice in one day. Simon over there got told he had to go to Portugal for a meeting, and when he came back they told him his expenses were over budget and they weren't paying them. There's no trust here, so there's point doing a trust exercise. We all know what's going on, and we're hoping to leave here with our dignity, and maybe some office supplies."
"That's Luke, actually!" said Luke.
"I know," said George. "But calling you Puke is asking you to trust me that there's a good reason for it." He smiled thinly. "Have they paid you in advance for this session? Right, I thought not. Go and ask for payment now. We'll wait."
Ten minutes later Luke came back into the room.
"Right," he said, much of his enthusiasm gone. "So, today I'm going to teach you, free of charge, how to burn down a building and make it look like an attempt at insurance fraud by senior management."

Anonymous said...

“Come on, now! Give me one more!”
“Don’t say ‘can’t.’ Never say ‘can’t.’ That word should not be part of your vocabulary.”
“But it is. I can’t do it.”
“Just last week you ‘couldn’t’ do a lot of things. Now? You’re doing planks, and sit-ups, and a whole lot of manly push-ups. Now go!”
“If it’ll get you to shut up…”
“See? Told you?”

Kyle said...

I had my shot in college. "Could've been something great," the talking heads would say for the next twenty years.

The Big Game was my last. Got my shin busted by Walt "The Bullet" Johnson on a hard sack in the fourth. We lost when our second-string QB couldn't hack the handoffs and long-bombs like me. I was a star, snuffed out in my prime.

It took me three months to walk again, and six more with the help of a cane. A cane, at twenty-two! While my friends were out binge-drinking or hooking up with skirts, I was doing physical therapy or cramming for my classes (which suddenly mattered for my GPA now that I wasn't the star quarterback with a coach who knew how to pull strings).

I graduated, Bachelor's in Athletic Coaching Education - with a heavy student loan debt since my football scholarship backed out on me. Fat bunch of beauracracy that was.

That was thirty years ago. My hair isn't so dark (or all-covering) anymore. My cheeks sag a little. I like my forehead wrinkles, though. I think they make me look distinguished; Janet, my wife, just thinks they look like me. And that's good enough.

I wound up coaching at my old schools - high school and college both, in fact. Small communities and all, you know.

I coached some of my old friends' kids - Jimmy Warnick's boy, Roy, was every bit the sprinter his old man was. Rick Hedron's twin's, Terry and Michael, couldn't hold a defensive line if their lives depended on it - a bitter end to the legacy that was Roy's fortress-like demeanor on the Gridiron. They didn't stay on the next season.

When I went back to the Big Time of College 'ball, I had ten years of high school and local little league under my belt. I felt I was still pretty green, though, in spite of living and breathing this stuff since I was a little tyke. The pressure's really on when you know a good chunk of the audience is talent sharks.

I had a lukewarm couple of years at first, but my history at the college convinced them to give me another chance, being a former local hero and everything. And it paid off. We started winning more as I settled in and started to learn just how to handle the intensity from the sideline instead of on the field.

I wound up moving colleges twice. Janet got her CPA and her own firm. We never had a family, just a series of dogs - huskies, bloodhounds, mastiffs (all named for football greats, naturally). I have three championship rings, and more pictures, pennants, posters, calendars, retired helmets, newspaper clippings and signature-laden yearbooks than I know what to do with. Janet swears we need a second attic to hold all of it.

Boxes and totes stacked and piled all around, up here in the dusty, musty, quiet of it all. I can come up here at any time and just drown in memories. The time Dave Benson broke his foot on the two-point-conversion in that game with the Red Devils. When my then-star-QB Adam Ulrich accidentally tackled half the cheerleading squad. Faces and names and jersey numbers so bountiful that my aging mind can't hope to hold them all anymore. So, I sit in my shrine and thumb through what my life wrought.

Lots of teenagers and young adults, giving their everything and having fun. Makes me wonder what my boy would've accomplished, if we had bothered to have one.

Marc said...

Morganna - hah, I do not think I could handle being a turtle racing coach :)

Greg - thanks! I think I was trying to bring my scene setting up to your level. I obviously made an effort on this one, at any rate.

Hah, you've got some great characters in this one. And I'm impressed by the way Luke manages to find a solution to all their problems!

Ivy - I'm pretty sure most personal trainers get the majority of their tasks completed simply by annoying their client into doing them :P

Kyle - woo, that's some powerful stuff. Felt like you ran the full gamut of emotions, with that ending packing a particularly powerful punch. Really excellent writing.