The next day, the Wizard joins me for my coffee break in the barista at BNP’s offices. He’s in another one of his disgruntled moods. Seeing him all moody makes me apprehensive.
“Listen to the words coming out of my mouth,” the Wizard has his gaze fixed on me. His could has turned a dangerous colour of purple with grey swirls streaking through it. “The White Rabbit is not for you. She is at uni and knows students who may be looking for some sort of employment. Not someone to be abusive. You can ask her if she knows anyone. That’s all as far as the White Rabbit is concerned. But I think I am going to open a ‘broodjeszaak’ instead. At least I will try it.”
This last bit of news hits me with surprise. A ‘broodjeszaak’ is actually a sandwich bar. I’m a little bit scrambled right now. How can a brilliant mathematician work in a sandwich bar? Does not compute.
“Haha,” I laugh out loud oblivious to other colleagues getting coffee that morning. “Good morning. I have been thinking. I don’t want to get rid of my Star. She is really good at what she does. Both for my business and for the children. It is just the baby that is a problem for the moment. And I want to grow my business not take steps back. I also like the idea of the aupair. In my ideal world I would be able to keep the Star ànd have an aupair. Problem is I already talked to the Star about being removed… Will have to see. Also if I get up earlier and leave earlier then I can pick up the baby and be home earlier… So maybe that could work.”
“Ok,” the Wizard visibly and instantly finds back his cool. “Keep her. The idea of William effecting her baby is a stupid one. An idea given by a doc who is way behind the times.”
“I know. But she doesn’t want to do the baby so I need to respect that,” I tell the Wizard. And true, there is no use arguing the situation. It is what it is. “If on top of that I can grow my business and attract new clients and build with the Star that would be great.”
“Go for it,” the Wizard encourages me.
“Go for it?” I am always puzzled which part of my waffling he is actually responding to. “Get an aupair? I do like the idea. Why do you think I abuse the White Rabbit? I don’t and I never did. I fired her for a reason you know. Sorry about that though, I do really like her too.”
“No keep the Star and grow your business,” the Wizard drives me in the right direction. “If you believe that’s the best solution for you then do it.”
“I like my Star and she is good,” I smile as I think fondly of my star employee. “She does better presentations than me. You are avoiding my question about the White Rabbit.”
“Well then keep her,” the Wizard snaps. “What’s the problem?”
“Money,” I sulk again.
“I know you fired the White Rabbit for a reason,” the Wizard finally addresses that issue. “In response, the White Rabbit may know IT students from a foreign country at uni in Leuven who might grab the opportunity to work part time.”
“Okay,” I’m afraid I’m not understanding much of this conversation. “This is a bit of a muddle… So no aupair then? My cousin is married to a Phillipino woman, who is related to the Phillipino woman my stepdad married. And her sister might want to be an aupair. Only she doesn’t drive…”
“Ok. Money is not a problem,” the Wizard sets me straight. “Finding clients is the problem. Solve that first then the money problem will be solved. Get serious about this. Start cold calling or teach the Star to cold call and make appointments for you.”
“I have gotten extra business from a client,” I go on avoiding the subject of cold calling as much as possible. “Met with him on 2nd of January. It is peanuts but if it continues lots of peanuts is good. I have had another peanut request yesterday that I am following up on. I have started doing my tarot and meditations again too. So far I am doing one client a week. But it is good black money. And I am selling off baby stuff on a second hand site. I am also doing courses and obtaining certificates. I am trying to do more housework.”
“Sounds like a good long term plan,” the Wizard smiles approvingly.
“I am dead beat tired,” I snap back at him.
“It’s good for you,” the Wizard won’t be deterred.
“To be tired and grateful,” I muse. “Yes. So a ‘broodjeszaak’. Fun!”
“Teach the Star to make calls,” the Wizard continues spinning his brilliant ideas. “Write an eBook on how to do what you do for dummies.”
“What do I do?” I smirk sarcastically. “Cold calling won’t work for me. Just thinking of it makes me nervous and my stomach does strange things.”
“Google stuff,” the Wizard reminds me of my full-time occupation. “Yes I understand.”
“Already exists 10 million books on that,” I refute his ideas instantly. “What I am doing now works. It is slow and I am exhausted but it works. Slowly.”
“Put a tarot reading advert in the expat websites,” the Wizard continues laying out all my options. “Contact Internations and place one there too. Turn your upstairs into a meditation center. Call your practice ‘Center for Inspiration’.”
“That is good!” I thunder louder than I had intended. “I will use that idea probably after summer when I stop the AirBnB and get Willem a room downstairs. However if I do this then there is no room for an aupair.”
“Include life coaching for a better more fulfilling life style,” the Wizard is instoppable.
“That sounds great but I am not a coach,” I remind him of my perceived limitations again. “I would like to be but I am not.”
“You won’t need an aupair,” the Wizard is prone to contradicting himself. “Who says you are not?”
“I wont? Okay then,” I say bemuddled. One day it’s this, next day it’s so. Very disturbing. “So I can stop that track. Continue with the Star and getting up early. That works! I have no coaching certification. I have only done a few coaching courses. Surely not enough to actually practise.”
“Yes. Use the coaching course you sent me to coach from,” the Wizard reminds me of all the things I have done in the previous year. “I will send you some stuff to read and use. I suggest you focus on things you know related to life experience. How to be successful and a single parent for example.”
“Hmmm,” I am not convinced.
“You can make one,” the Wizard teases me.
“Make my own certificate?” I ask him and I have a feeling he is making fun of me.
“There is no authority on coaching,” the Wizard informs me. “I will teach you.”
“Graduated from the School of Life,” I smile as I have mental images of what my certificate could look like. “I will get Lilly to make me one. With glitter. I liked the idea of an aupair.”
“Yes the school of hard knocks,” the Wizard looks at me intently. “Best school in the world. I will send you structure and stuff over the next weeks as soon as my computer is fixed.”
“Thank you,” I smile at him. “If I had money I would turn the attic into a bedroom or a studio for coaching and meditation with a separate side entrance. What would it cost? 25k?”
“The certificate will be from AULC,” the Wizard makes sure I am taking my auto-certification seriously. “USA Association of United Life Coaches. Certifying you completing the Life Coach Professional course. 2016.”
“2016?” I look at him in surprise. “The year I chose the baby not the men.”
“Get a quote,” the Wizard reminds me to get information on my ideas before making decisions about my attic or other home improvements. “Yes you need to have a little experience.”
“Ok,” I sip my coffee slowly, pensively.
“Then you talk to kinetherapists to refer you to clients,” the Wizard continues laying out all the steps of my plan.
“Oooooh,” I let out as I remember. “My neighbour is a kinesist.”
“They understand the balance between a healthy mind healthy body,” the Wizard completes the idea.
“Super!” I am much enjoying my coffee now.
“50- 50?” the Wizard asks me with his naughty grin.
“Who you and me?” I realize how defensive I sound.
“Joke,” the Wizard lies, a little disappointed in my reaction.
“No it is not,” I let him know I have picked up on his mood. “What else would be in it for you?”
“The info I send you is copyright material,” the Wizard warns me. “You can’t sell it or give it away. What else? Candle lit dinners.”
“Haha yeah right,” I blurt out in my annoying voice. “You never want to see me. Always stand me up.”
“Nothing at all,” the Wizard brushes me off. “If I can help you, one day you can help me.”
“But ok I will promise you candle lit dinners and then please don’t show up,” I continue my sarcastic banter.
“Ok,” the Wizard says without emotion.
“I will only read your material,” I reassure him. “I will do nothing else with it.”
“Use it to practice coaching,” the Wizard spells it out for me. “Your clients will teach you stuff too.”
“That sounds great,” I am happy about my new perspectives.
“Find an outlet in Brussels,” the Wizard seems to be an endless well of ideas sprouting every five minutes. “You will find clients there too. Ok have a great day. See you later.”
“Hmmm I still have a full-time job you know,” here comes my negative thinking again. “Thanks for talking. Have a wonderful day you too!”
“Coaching rates are from 50 Euro per hour to 90 per hour. Do the maths,” the Wizard loves to watch me as I calculate things in my mind. “Tarot 50 Euro a reading. Meditation 30 Euro per half hour or per session. The Star can be your receptionist. Bye.”
“I have done the maths,” I emphasize. “This is not enough to replace my current business. But it is a great way to top up my income. And it makes me happy. A very nice hobby. You shouldn’t do a broodjeszaak. You are too good at what you do. Besides we are going to get filthy rich setting up a Bitcoin payment system… Somehow. Your Russian IT students can help with that.”
The Wizard vanishes again just as soon as he had appeared. I finish my coffee and return to my desk, feeling happy, refreshed and buzzing with brand new ideas.
* Disclaimer : Any resemblance between the fictional characters in this story and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle by chance more than by choice.