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binder setup teaser

It was one of those cookie-cutter condo complexes in strip-mall-land near Anytown where no one there plans on staying forever. No one finishes a walkthrough or even a driveby with the thought, “This looks like a place where I could settle down and grow old.” The kind of place where people move on after a year or two having never learned the names of their neighbors. It looked like the man had just moved in.

His kids wandered around as if they weren’t familiar with their surroundings. As his three young children hovered nervously near the door of the garage, the client explained to me that most of the pile he wanted us to remove was empty space – “boxes and stuff from moving” he said. As Flores and I worked, the three kids seemed more bewildered by our activities than kids usually are. Almost as if they were scared of what we might be taking away among the pile of cardboard and styrofoam in the garage. At one point the man’s daughter came up and grabbed his leg and said, “Daddy, what are they doing?” “They’re taking all this garbage away,” he answered.

When we got back in the truck and started to drive off, Flores surprised me with something that had fallen out of a box he picked up. The two binders confirmed what we’d sensed about the man’s new living situation. They were from one of those couples therapy group seminars designed to save failing marriages, full of embarrassingly gendered lists of relationship pitfalls and references to things like “Dialogue Wheels”. One binder was his, and the other was hers. We could tell immediately from the handwriting, since some of the exercise worksheets had been filled out. As Flores read aloud on our way home at the end of the day, I was utterly amazed. I hope you will be too, when his full writeup is posted here soon.

NOTE: I wrote this two years ago. Flores moved away and lost these binders in the move, apparently. He promised to find them and send them to me, and if he ever does, I’ll post it here.

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