Session 102: Mr. Smith

"You can just call me Mr. Smith."

Looking at his black suit and tie, he had a striking resemblance to a particular person that came to my mind. I wasn't convinced that Mr. Smith was actually his name, but it didn't matter. He had paid for a session and he was here for me to help him in any way that I could.

I nodded at him and tried pushing the pre-conceived notions I had about him to the side. "How are you doing today, Mr. Smith?" I asked.

"I'm not sure," he responded. "It's been a rough week at the office."

"What do you do for work?" I asked.

There was a momentary pause, almost as if he had not been expecting me to ask him that. It wasn't like it was an out of the ordinary question. "I . . . I do contract work," he replied. "I help manage the agreement between two parties."

It wasn't very specific, but it was up to him to tell me as much or as little information that he wanted to.

I leaned back in my chair. "Would you like to talk about it at all?" I wasn't expecting much of an answer.

Mr. Smith glanced at the door. "Are you expecting anyone else?" he asked.

I shook my head. "No, it's just you."

"I've been feeling a little unsure of myself at work," Mr. Smith said. "Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing the right thing."

"We all have choices to make every day," I replied. "Sometimes they are not easy ones. I find that it can be helpful to step back and evaluate those choices from a different perspective. You know, like the saying about not being able to see the forest through the trees."

"I am deep in the forest," Mr. Smith replied. "I have no other choice but to remain there. That is what I am paid to do. I'm paid to keep people in the forest."

Honestly, I was not expecting this kind of answer. Paid to keep people in the forest? What was he talking about? Before I could clarify what he meant, he continued on.

"You can't talk to anyone about this or let anyone know that I came to you. I'm afraid that the forest is becoming too big. I don't think I want to stay, but they will know if I leave. There will be no protection for me if I do."

"Protection from what?" I asked. "What are you afraid of?"

Mr. Smith stood up to his feet. "I have already said too much. I must go back."

"Mr. Smith, is there anything I can do to help you?" 

Mr. Smith started walking toward the door of my office. "I don't believe there is. I wish I could make the right choice, but I just don't have the strength. Despite my uncertainty, it's easier to leave the pot unstirred."

"You're right," I replied. I was going to address this head on. "You might not have the strength right now, but I know where you can get it."

Mr. Smith opened the door to my office and then turned back around to face me. "I'm sorry. You may be right, but I can't do this today. I need to go back."

Mr. Smith walked out and closed the door. I sat there for a moment, debating whether I should go after him or not. I never chased after clients, it wasn't the best way to earn a welcoming reputation or level of trust with them. Instead, I walked over to my office window and looked down into the parking lot. I saw him climb into his black SUV and drive away. He has my number, I thought. He will call back when he's ready.  

Jonathan P. Jehle
Author of The Allegiance Series