12 May 2017

There's what you say, and there's what people hear.

Years ago, my wife and I went to get some counselling for our marriage. My work covered counselling as part of the employee benefits package, and that was a good thing, but it also meant you were assigned your counsellor. How was ours? Welllll...
After meeting with our counsellor together, he announced that he would like us to meet with him separately. When my turn came I spoke about many things, including my dissatisfaction with various elements of my life in general, and I concluded, with a laugh, that sometimes I'd like to just pull a Thoreau, head out into the woods, build a cabin, and ignore the rest of the world. (I'll expand on that here, sometime.)
He cut me off. "Okay, I can't stay silent," he said. "Because I feel very strongly about this." He then proceeded to tell me about his brother, who bought a place up north with several buildings on it- the counsellor wasn't too specific, only that the property had several buildings of which some were, he grudgingly admitted, of *some* historical interest. His brother was trying to fix the place up and then do something with it- again, the counsellor was not terribly specific. He had visited his brother at this place, and his brother had taken him on a tour of it, explaining what the place was and its history, but, by his own admission, the counsellor paid no attention to all that, because he was a fastidious sort of person and all he could see was that the place was an absolute mess. He stopped off at a local bar during that visit, and spoke to someone he met there about his brother and the place his brother had bought. "Oh, I know that place," said the random new acquaintance. "It would cost about a million dollars to fix it up."
Sometime not long after that, the brother approached his and the counsellor's parents to ask them for a loan to help him complete the work on the place. He needed a hundred thousand dollars to do so. The parents then approached the counsellor, who advised them not to loan the money, because some random guy he had met at the bar said it would cost a million dollars to fix, which he took as a more accurate estimation of the cost than the estimate coming from the man who was actually doing the work.  On the counselor's advice, the parent turned down his brother's request for a loan.
His brother never spoke to him again. About two years after that, he was driving a truck- he had taken on the job to try and fund his dream- when he slammed into an embankment and died. Police found no real cause for the accident, and, my counsellor confided in me, he wasn't too sure the brother hadn't crashed deliberately.
He told me this to convince me to not chase that particular dream. However, what I heard was something completely different than what he was trying to tell me, for what I heard was that I had a counsellor that had helped drive his brother to suicide, which, with my luck, was really about what I should have expected.
That was our last meeting


LarryD said...

The counselor told you so much more than what he intended to say. That's a great story.

Bear said...

When he told me that, at first I couldn't believe it, but then I thought: Well, that figures. Being, y'know, just my luck and all that.