Wednesday, October 19, 2005
True Confessions, Part I
We hardly anticipated the flood of e-mail when we asked for your best rule-breaking story. From quite shocking to relatively benign...my, but a lot of rebels worked for the Institute. It seems a number of you quite actively lowered "the Standard."
Here's the first installment.
I had a camera at a Counseling Seminar at HQ in '89 - '90...back when it was ATIA...during a break I was trying to take a picture of the girl I had met there as a remembrance while we were on a break one day...she was vain and didn't want me to snap it...the perfect ATIA type...long blond hair, thin...my brother was with me and took the camera to snap the picture. "They" pulled him aside and said he should not be taking pictures of girls...needless to say I never got the picture...
When my father (and consequently, my entire family) was on staff at the Indianapolis Training Center about 10 years ago, I committed a dire deed that was eventually discovered. My sister and I were very involved in a certain local church and its activities. Our involvement was met by deep suspicion among the other staff members at ITC. My sister and I were often closely questioned regarding exactly what WENT ON at youth group and during youth fellowship times. No one seemed to understand just why we attended these dubious events, or why we wanted to be involved in something so questionably moral as church.
One particular youth activity (involving ice skating) required the girls to wear pants or jeans. This was to avoid the immodesty that might result from an unexpected fall and skirts flying in the air. What was a Training Center girl to do? Desiring to be a part of the youth activity, and yet not knowing how to depart from the Training Center in jeans, I came up with a clever plan. Soon the front desk staff saw me leave in a full, modest skirt to attend my worldly youth activity. Little did they know that as soon as I closed my car door, that said skirt was quickly removed to reveal (HORRORS!) a pair of defrauding, sinful, carnal JEANS!
I was very pleased with myself until I reached the bus that was to take the youth group to the skating rink. There, to my horror, stood ANOTHER ATI GIRL FROM THE TRAINING CENTER. (She was able to attend since her parents lived in town and she was home for the weekend.) And SHE was not so carnally clad. SHE had not sunk to the depths of deception that I had. Indeed, SHE was clad in a long, flowing SKIRT, that hid not deceitful jeans.
SHE ignored me the entire time, choosing to stay close to her equally snobby sister. I prayed and hoped that she would keep her mouth shut at the ITC as much as she did to me during that horrible youth activity.
No such luck. The very next day at the Training Center was second to the Spanish Inquisition for me. My parents were informed and berated for my rebellion. I was counseled by several young girls (most of them around the age of 14) regarding my worldliness. Meanwhile, SHE settled in to bask in the new-found glow of favor that all tattlers and spies receive at any ATI establishment. I, on the other hand, drifted into the darkness of disfavor.
I spent the school year of 1994-5 teaching English in a Moscow public school. All of the English teachers that year were male, except two. The next year was the first year that girls were allowed to teach on equal footing with the guys.
This was all well and good, but what really ticked me off was that that year, all English teachers had to sit through a course by a girl who had never taught in Moscow. Even those who had more experience than me had to attend the course. The biggest problem in my school, which was a special-English school and most of the 6-7th graders spoke English moderately well, was discipline. Not once did the course cover this. We spent most of the time covering how to teach really simple stuff.
After a few weeks of this, I decided to have my revenge. We were assigned "demo lessons" to do, which would be recorded on video. My roommate and I planned to make a joke of it. My roommate was assigned to teach "greetings". He would call on several of the other members of the class and practice a short dialog with them. Each time I would raise my hand and frantically wave it to be the volunteer. When he finally called on me, it went something like this:
Roommate: Hello, Robert. Shake. (Hand extended.)
Me: (Both hands in front, shaking vigorously without touching him.)
Roommate: Uh... no. Wave. (Waving.)
Me: (Hands on knees, then thrown up into the air in sport-stadium wave.)
Roommate: No, WAVE.
Me: (Doing Michael Jackson, break dance-type wave.)
Roommate: No. Sit down, Robert.
The class was laughing so hard they were crying.
A few months later, the video department edited the video into a special "English teachers video" with excerpts from a promotional video of George Mattix talking about the juvenile delinquent program at the MTC.
Mr. Mattix: These kids come to us with all sorts of... problems.
Me: (Doing the wave in slo-mo.)
A long time after, people would come up to me at the MTC and say, "Robert, wave!"
There was also the time when some Russian students would stay too late in rooms with their classmate (same gender) talking, while others were trying to work or sleep. Therefore, the rule was passed down in true Institute form that NO ONE was allowed to go to ANY room that was not theirs. Therefore, we were cut off from almost any free time fellowship with anyone outside our room except for meals. The very night we heard about it, several of us guys grabbed some spare mattresses, piled them in the hall and lay around, chatting. We weren't in anyone's room, but no one could make it down the hall. The rule lasted less than a week.
My roommate at EXCEL and I would often play Dutch Blitz together after "Lights Out" - we just pulled our thick drapes closed, put a towel against the bottom of the door, taped a card over the peephole that the team leaders looked through to see whether our lights were indeed out, and played together to our hearts' content. The door across the hallway was too small for the doorframe - the gap from the floor alone was two inches - and my roomie and I often felt sorry for the girls across the hall, who could never have gotten away with such mischief.
Most daring was the operation carried out in our last week at the training center, when my roommate looked out and saw an unopened can of Pepsi on the windowsill a floor below us. She created a "fishing line" of sorts out of a paperclip and a length of string and "snagged" the can (the occupants of the room below may have helped). After that, we and our one-floor-down neighbors began to exchange notes via this fishing line, feeling extra daring because "the Brandons" were just one floor below them. I've been out of ATI circles for so long, I can't remember who the Brandons were, just that they were Important People.