The entire punchline to this chapter is that even facing the most enormous odds imaginable, my first instinct was simply to stand up and make a run for the door. Damn the consequences.
I know it is hard to picture yourself in my shoes, but try your best and imagine the following. One day you are just living a regular life, the only life you have ever known, and then within 24 hours you are finding yourself in a position that is unheard of, something that in your wildest imagination you could not have even pictured as being real.
You are unable to talk to anyone you know because your ability to use a phone or computer has been severed.
You are unable to so much as get out of the chair you are currently sitting in and there is literally someone sitting next to you whose only job is to make sure you don’t.
Beyond that single person are 50 other people, most of whom have made it very clear that they are also there to make sure that you are overwhelmed by force if you attempt to so much as stand up out of that chair.
While all of this is going on, you are surrounded by a complete mystery environment which makes absolutely no sense and you are not even allowed to communicate with a good number of the people sitting around you. Which is obvious because they begin to turn away from you when you even look in their direction.
You are sitting in a chair in a room where all the doors are being physically guarded, and not in a subtle way, in a very exaggerated way by teenagers who look like they are begging for somebody to try.
That room is in a house that is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. In the middle of a forest in a state, 1000’s of mile from your home, that you have never been to until now.
I mean, take a look at these directions to Elan:
This is where you would eventually arrive:
Can you imagine finding yourself in that position when just the day before you were hanging out in your town with your friends, driving around in cars, flirting with girls, watching movies on TV, and deciding what it was you were going to do that weekend?
The contrast was unimaginable. And the very worst part is that you are surrounded by other teenagers who were also in this exact same situation at one point. I will say again that Elan was very well designed. Because if you had taken, for example, 10 teenagers and put them all into that position at once, they surely would have banded together for escape. But Elan wasn’t designed like that, it was designed with a very slow drip of new residents.
We came in one at a time, and that the only way that a place like that can exist. Because you and you alone are the “new resident”. All around you are people who you don’t know and there are very few indications of who you can trust. And then you add in the game of people purposely trying to gain your trust in order to turn you in or double-cross you.
Remember the last Joe’s Journal where I showed you some of the Expeditor Trainee clipboard packet? Well I haven’t yet mentioned a part of that packet that every former Elan resident will surely remember. It was called an ARF. And those letters stood for Attitude Report Form. Every single day, each Expeditors was given the name of a new resident. And by midnight, they were supposed to write an entire report on them.
Of course, anyone who hasn’t yet reached the position of Expeditor has no clue about ARF’s. As a matter of fact, by the time you reached Expeditor and learned about them, it was hard not to immediately become skeptical of the all the “friendly talks about the program” (called relating in Elan-speak) that you had as a new resident with certain Expeditors.
You suddenly realized that the very nature of those conversations was to write their ARF report.
But guess what, now you have to go do it to the next generation of new residents. And of course you are going to end up being just as secretive and devious as the people who did it to you. This is how Elan worked, all of the power games you played as a Strength, you played them because you were once the victim of them as a Non-Strength.
And the funniest part is that when you are finally a Strength you think you are so trusted and smart for figuring these things out. Until you eventually reach the level of High-Strength (if you ever do) and then you realize that the High-Strength do the exact same thing to the Strength. ARF forms go all the way up the ladder! This is how deviously brilliant the Elan system was. Everything was compartmentalized like that.
So everyone is spying on everyone else under the guise of “Hey Jimmy, how are you today? Let’s relate about how feel? What are your goals for reaching your next position? What kinds of things are you worried about or looking forward to…?” It is all a ruse. All of your answers are being remembered and then written down on a piece of paper that will be passed around by all the higher ranks above you.
And then those teens are going to use that intel. And believe me, they will use it to benefit their own position. We had no access to money in Elan, intel was our currency.