NewDayNews Recovery Forum
est: Part 3: The Training Begins
Date: Monday, 8 May 2006, at 11:21 p.m.
After swearing I would never sign up for est, I made an impulsive decision to sign up when Barbara sent me a $50.00 scholarship.
I called Barbara up and gave her the news. She sounded ecstatic. I thanked her for the scholarship, and she asked me for my training dates so she could be sure to attend my graduation.
Like with Bobby, she told me that my training started when I signed up. I told her that I felt like it started when she signed up.
As the days went on, I started feeling more and more like I had made a mistake. But, it was made clear to me that once paid for, the training fees were not refundable. Even with the scholarship, it was still $300.00, and that was equal to about a weeks pay for me at the time.
I began to think that maybe I should just observe the training and try to gain information to try and help break the grip it had on Barbara. At this point, Bobby had already taken it, but he didn’t act like she did. It was kind of like he had just gone and seen a movie. No obsession, no constant talking about it, no trying to get people to sign up. I was certain that I would be more like Bobby about it.
Newport Beach was over sixty miles away, and the pamphlet I got from est said that the training would likely end between 11:pm and 2:am each night. I decided to book a room at the local Holiday Inn for Saturday night so I wouldn’t have to get home in the wee hours just to turn around and go back.
The morning of the first day, I arrived at the Newport Beach est Center. Barbara’s training in the San Fernando Valley had been held in a hotel ballroom, but Newport Beach had their own large room to hold trainings.
I arrived early and filled out some paperwork. I filled out a form that asked not only my name, but the name I liked to be called. They made me a nametag that said “JOE”.
I stepped inside the room. It was setup theater style with padded banquet type chairs with no arms. The chairs where jammed right up against each other with narrow rows. As I walked in I noticed that the training assistants had these blank faces. Not smiling, not frowning. They looked like brainwashed robots. It was a bit disturbing. I was instructed to take the front-most center-most seat, and not to sit next to anyone I knew prior to the training. This was easy because I had never been to Newport Beach in my life.
The room filled up with about 300 trainees, and probably a dozen assistants, all on-task doing various jobs. We all sat and kind of nervously chatted with each other. Every kind of person was in the room. Not just kids like myself barely out of my teens. There were Moms, Dad’s, Grandparents, Blacks, Whies, Orientals. People who looked rich, people who looked middle class. Nobody looked poor, but what poor person could afford something like this?
All of a sudden I felt a rush of air in the room as a small Oriental woman marched to the front of the room. She had that same expressionless look that the assistants did, but something about her told me she was in charge. She looked center. She looked right. She looked left. Her head stopped center. In a loud and shrill voice, she announced, “I AM NAMI KUMINAMI! I AM YOUR TRAINING SUPERVISOR!”.
Several of us laughed nervously.
Then from the back of the room, a man bellowed out over a wireless microphone, “Start to notice right now your automatic, programmed responses! You can hear them? Can’t you? The airplanes flying low over Pearl Harbor!”.
I couldn’t help but to laugh. Nami looked like some kind of prison camp guard from world war 2 standing up there.
The man walked confidently down the aisle. He was young with movie star good looks. Blond, blue-eyed, perfect teeth, perfect hair. Well dressed and tanned. Nami stepped off the platform, and the man stepped up. He looked center. He looked left. He looked right. Then he announced, “MY NAME IS LON GOLNICK! I AM YOUR TRAINER. NAMI, CONTINUE!”.
Lon stepped off the platform, and Nami took his place. Nami then launched into the “agreements”, something that took several hours to complete. These were the things that we had to agree to in order to be in the training.
We were instructed on how to “share”. In est “sharing” was when you wanted to say something to the group, or the trainer about what you were experiencing. If we wanted to share we were to raise our hand. If the trainer called on us, we were to stand and wait while an assistant brought us a microphone. Then we were instructed in great detail about how to hold and speak into a microphone, exactly how high to hold it and how far from our mouths.
We were told that we must agree to keep what sounded like, “your souls in the room”. Lon then interrupted Nami holding up his shoe, and pointing at the sole saying, “THIS SOLE”.
Someone raised their hand. Lon called on the person. “What if I have to go to the bathroom?”.
“Then you have to go to the bathroom. The agreement is to keep your sole in the room. You can go to the bathroom on your breaks”, Lon said.
“I don’t understand”, the person said.
Then Lon smiled and said, “I know. That’s because you’re an asshole.”.
People gasped. The person looked stunned. “You’re all assholes! You’re all assholes, and your lives don’t work. All of your clever theories and bullshit ideas have landed you here. I’ve got your $350 bucks! And do you know what you are going to get out of this training? Nothing. Zero. No-Thing.”.
Lon told the person to sit down. Another person raised their hand. Lon told her to stand up. “I’m not an asshole”.
“Yes you are. Sit down”, Lon said.
Someone blurted out without being called on, “I want to leave!”.
“Good get the fuck out! Get the fuck out of my room and don’t come back!”, Lon ordered.
The person looked really surprised, “But what about my money?”.
“It’s right here”, Lon said holding up his wallet. “Now get the fuck out before I have you thrown out”, Lon said as he turned around. The man walked toward the back of the room. I thought surely they would let him back in. I never saw him again. Later I learned that people who leave the training can come back and start it again, but est did not give refunds.