Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I am going on vacation. And you are still going to pay me

At some point in the second year I think it was, Mike announced he was going on vacation. He was going to travel back to Hong Kong to go see Gong Bao Zhai. He was going to be gone for 2 weeks or a month. I think it was probably a month.

That was unwelcome news of course. We all liked the class, and Mike was the instructor of the class. If the instructor was gone, there was not really a class. During the announcement, it was stated that classes would continue for those that were interested.

Of course I was going to keep going to class. I was dedicated. For me, the Ba Gua class was a class where I received instruction in Ba Gua and other things, but it was also an informal group of men. We were all older men who shared common goals and interests. For me, the group was not really about an older guy controlling a bunch of younger guys as would be usual in a martial arts class. Especially since Mike and I were close to the same age.

Mike departed for his vacation and the Ba Gua classes continued. Some people came and some people did not. For me it was interesting because it was an opportunity to see who was dedicated to martial arts, and who as a brown noser their to follow Mike in a personality cult kind of way. I was not surprised to see that many of the women did not come to class while Mike was on vacation. I think most of the men continued to attend.

One of the classes would have been the usual day to pay Mike for class. I believe I have related how Mike asked everyone to put their money into an envelope. The envelopes would then be collected by a third party and given to Mike, or they would be dropped in Mike's bag.

Mike would not allow anyone to give him money directly.

People were putting their envelopes in the collection bag. I didn't. I didn't plan on paying for class that month. Mike was on vacation for a month. I paid Mike for instruction in Ba Gua. The meetings with the other students only were, for me, just like the tuesday men's meetings. A voluntary meeting of the men for their own benefit.

When it became apparent I was not going to be paying, I think Jeff said something. Maybe it was "Do you have an envelope before the bag is closed up?". I explained how I felt. Mike was gone, we were all friends getting together, why was I paying for a class?

Wow! You should have felt the attitude. Rejection and censure. I didn't care. I thought they were sheep. Why would you pay someone to go on vacation? Why pay for something you were not receiving? If the rest of them were rich and voluntarily wanted to pay Mike, that was their choice. For me, money was very tight. I was frugal to the point of miserliness because I had to be. Paying for nothing went against my entire lifestyle.

Mike returns from his vacation. We are at the first class since his return. Everyone is glad he is back, there are big smiles all around. Mike talks some about his trip to Hong Kong and what happened.

I could be wrong, but I think he said it publically. I think he publically in the group mentioned that some people did not pay tuition. He said he felt that paying the tuition was a gesture of goodwill and faith. Even though Mike was not their to instruct, paying the money showed that you respected Mike and were being respectful of the group.

I felt the speech was obviously directed at me in an attempt to shame me into paying. I wasn't ashamed. I could care less. Especially since he was trying to publically shame me. I shrugged my shoulders and ignored him.

I don't think I ever did pay him. In spite of his pressure, and pressure from the others. You bet George, Lonnie and Jeff all sidled over to give their opinion about how disrespectful it was not to pay Mike.

I think that was one of those turning points that I missed. One of those events where Mike's willingness to teach me dissappated. He knew that he could control me so far, but no farther. No matter what coercion he or the others inflicted on me, I would still do what I wanted to do.

Mike wanted robots. People that unquestioningly obeyed him. People that would be clone Mike's.


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