Today, our Story A Day challenge was to concentrate on beginnings and endings. I don’t think my result was a story. More of a vignette or something. My other prompt was “chocolate,” so there’s only one character that could be about.
Her name badge said, in red print:
Then, in bold black print that nearly ran off the edges of the badge:
Injustice H. Chocolate
She expected that, after an hour of mingling, laughing at the same jokes, she would wish she had told the registrar that part of her legal name was Yes Really My Parents Were Hippies Call Me Juss.
But nobody made jokes. Nobody questioned her about her name. Everybody introduced themselves the way they wanted to be addressed and called her Juss because she introduced herself that way.
She knew damn well she could expect Doris, her foster mother, to crow, “Didn’t I tell you it was a good idea?” when she told her. She and Doris had seen an ad for an open meeting at the International Life Coach Association’s convention in Louisville.
“Why don’t you go?” Doris had asked.
“I don’t have to go. I don’t have to join an Association to be a Life Coach. I just AM one.”
“Don’t you want to be a professional one?”
“Why?” Juss had felt herself becoming sullen. “I help people help themselves. I get emails, thanking me. I don’t need some Suit’s piece of paper to give me permission to do what I do.”
“Girl, girl! I shouldn’t call you ‘girl.’ It just encourages you to act like one, and you’re mumblety-mumblety.”
Mumblety-mumblety being Doris-talk for over forty.
Doris had tipped some of her own popcorn into Juss’ bowl. “It won’t hurt you to get a certificate. Didn’t that one guy say he couldn’t come to you because his work wouldn’t pay unless you had a certificate from this outfit right here on the television?”
So Juss had come to check things out, resenting the professional pants suit Doris had dressed her in like some kind of Life Coach Barbie.
Now, here she was, and the people were friendly. They asked questions like they were interested in the answers. They didn’t tell her what she ought to do: stop coaching without a license, take a course, join their group. They listened to her, and they answered her questions as if her questions were good ones.
After the social hour, they sat down to a presentation from one of the members about navigating insurance labyrinths, to provide coaching benefits to clients who couldn’t afford it otherwise.
Juss had never thought about that. She had taken the clients who came. She had adjusted her fees downward for people who didn’t seem able to pay her stated price, but it had never occurred to her that some people didn’t even ask what she charged because they couldn’t pay anything. It shamed her. Her attempt at justifying herself by reflecting that she had assumed having your life coached was a middle-class-privilege need only made it worse.
After the presentation, the business portion of the meeting was dispensed with in favor of another hour of socializing and, obviously enough to make it acceptable, pitches for joining the organization from members and officers.
Officers. If she took a course and aced it (which she didn’t doubt she would), she could join this organization. If she joined it, she could become an officer. She was necessarily vague on what that would entail, but surely it would involve shepherding or caretaking or providing benefits of some sort. Being of use. Helping.
On their way out of the meeting, visitors were given hearty handshakes and gift bags of four-packs of expensive chocolates, wood-cased fountain pens, and metal business card cases (value of contents listed for tax purposes). The bags also contained literature about recommended accrediting courses and membership applications for the Association.
She pulled the literature out of the bag and put it on the passenger seat, where she could glance over and see it as she drove. Not read it, just have it in her mind through the occasional glance.
As the glow of possibilities faded into the reality of driving home in the dark, doubts crept in. Good idea? Bad idea? Get a Three-Piece-Suit paper, or continue to thumb her nose at it? Join? Not?
She pulled into the garage and took off her badge. By this time next year, she could be one of the friendly people inside, welcoming other people, encouraging them to help themselves to better help others help themselves.
Doris would gloat.
No help for that. She gathered her literature and her taxable loot and got out of the car.
“Yoo-hoo!” she hooted. “Don’t say it.”
She grinned as Doris opened the garage/kitchen door and said, “Was I right? Was I right?”
I’m posting today at Fatal Foodies about a vegan meal we had that was quite, quite yummy.
MY PROMPTS TODAY: beginnings and endings, chocolate