a house in flux, around the block many times, chocolate chip cookies and cold milk, Communicate by implication - not by declaration, fear and love, Give me several days, Minnesota nice, Mr Im, no return number, three days later, what do we need to talk about?
8. Follow up visit with Mr. Im
A week passed without Mr. Im contacting Sam. Sam was not surprised; they had not made arrangements for a follow-up conversation or visit when concluding their first time together. That was when Sam went to the house where he had left the note saying, “At first I wanted them to like me; now I want them to fear me.”
Additionally, Mr. Im hadn’t given Sam a phone number where he could be reached. That had to be intentional, thought Sam, although he did not take it personally. That didn’t, however, lessen Sam’s desire to touch base with Mr. Im, especially in light of the growing number of questions he had.
During their first conversation, Mr. Im’s had provided only a sketch about his specific employment. It was way too slim for Sam to track him down without leaving traces of himself in this era electronic information gathering. So, Sam resorted to the “old fashion” way of communication – mailing a simple note with no return address, sent to the house where Sam had deposited the original “note” about “like me versus fear me.”
Three days later, Mr. Im called, and graciously told Sam to feel free to stop by the coming Thursday afternoon. “Great”, Mr. Im, “I am looking forward to it.” But Sam also realized that Mr. Im had called from a non-trackable phone number!
Mr. Im greeted Sam at the door with the same warm openness he had shown on their first visit. This time, Mr. Im served, not apple pie with ice cream, but big chocolate chip cookies with cold milk, another of Sam’s favorites, going way back to his childhood. Again, how did Mr. Im know that? Mr. Im had discreetly communicated his awareness of Sam’s personal life. It was uncanny. Sam couldn’t help but catch the implications.
Although from the outside, the house looked the same as before, the great room now opened from the east side of the interior, and the kitchen and dining area was on the west side. What had been the office / bedroom suite was now at the back of the house. And, Sam realized that the windows were in different places! The resulting interior layout, however, seemed as natural as the former one had, and Mr. Im didn’t even allude to the change. Could this change have been done for Sam’s sake, to make an unstated point?
“Sam, I am glad you feel confident enough to want to visit with me again. How have the past several weeks been for you? And, how is Sherry? And, by the way, have you delivered any notes to anyone else?”
“I’ve been doing fine, Mr. Im, I think. Sherry is fine, cheerful as always. Still has no idea I am in contact with you, nor would she have any reason to imagine why, in any case.
“Tell me, Sam, how I can be of help to you. I expect that you had something particular in mind for wanting us to get together. I may have an idea, but I would like to hear it from you. So, what do we need to talk about? How can I help?”
With that, Mr. Im had opened wide the door for Sam’s thoughts and questions. Sam needed no more encouragement. And, he was really pleased that Mr. Im was genuinely interested.
“I admit that the little note I left on your desk could have been saying a lot more, by implication and innuendo, than I had when first reading it. Some of the various possible meanings never occurred to me at the time. But, I can see them now, especially the one about ‘communicating by implication, not by declaration.
“I keep going back what seems obvious in the little message, ‘I wanted them to like me. Now I want them to fear me.” It seems clear to me that the person who wrote the note thinks that fear is more productive than is love, or ‘like’.
“I was raised to believe that love is the strongest motivation, to believe that being nice to someone is more likely to make things go well than being mean to someone. I grew up in a little town in the western rural part of our state where ‘Minnesota nice’ was not just a slogan, but considered a virtue, the way to keep things running smoothly.
“Even though my work sometimes puts me in rough situations, where rough and mean solutions seem to be the most productive, I find that the note goes directly the opposite direction. It seems to be saying that creating fear in the other person is the way to get results.
“Mr. Im, you are a wise man. I can tell you have been around the block many times. You know how things really work. What is it? Fear? Love? When cutting to the chase, should I want people to love me, or to fear me? Am I going to get better and more predictable results if they fear me, or if they love me?”
Sam felt relieved to have finally expressed to someone else the dilemma he had been feeling inside for a while. He sure hoped that Mr. Im could give him some ideas, some direction, and some counsel. A picture of Sam’s life quickly flashed through his mind. He didn’t know how many more years he had. He wanted to live them well. He didn’t want to finish them with regret
“Sam,” said Mr. Im, “you have asked a good question, a good series of questions. I will be happy to work with you. You will need to be patient as we think through the fear-love topic. In a way, it is not complicated, but it is quite radical in its scope. As we get into it, you will see that other concepts have a role in the fear-love issue. If we skip over them, we will lose our way. So, you will have to be patient and steadfast.
“I want us to begin by reading some material I will make available to you. I will give it to you in sections. It will have connections to a variety of areas, such as psychology, religion, history, politics, deviate behavior, and ethics, to name several.
“So, give me several days to put the material in the form that I think will best work for us, ok?”
Sam was relieved. His questions didn’t seem silly for Mr. Im. Mr. Im was willing to help him get an understanding about fear and love. What all would he learn? He would soon start finding out.
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