Sleepless and shaky, I drove myself to my office. I took a Xanax before I even logged into my machine (I had been given a prescription). Once I started to feel the shakes subsiding, I sent an email complaining to my friends about the ATA ordeal. Fa offered to to personally call them and "get all Puerto Rican on their asses." She also encouraged me to write a letter to the national organization. I started that one, but decided to write a letter directly to Mrs. Bee herself instead (we English majors love our tersely worded letters don't we?):
I wanted to write you personally to let you know that we will not, again, step foot inside the Bloomington ATA facility. We are switching to another program and I wanted to let you know our reasons.
1) We were, quite frankly, disappointed in the way you handled communicating our tragic news to others in the class. We wanted parents to be aware of our situation because we are friendly with many of them and it seemed appropriate to let them know about the delicate situation. We certainly did NOT, however, want an announcement of this sort made in front of everyone (including our 4 year old son and my mother and father):
“The Childers’ baby has died.”
As our son is already having a hard enough time w/ our loss (I really didn't know if this was true), this was a shockingly insensitive approach to delivering this information. We also thought it was extremely irresponsible and unfair to instruct parents to tell their children not to ask questions. Isn’t this counter-intuitive to education? We would not have wanted children to feel like they could not ask us questions about our baby, especially after being told about it in such an insensitive way.
2) We pay $100 a month for your program, and $30 every 2-3 months for “graduation fees”. After informing me that Mason would not need the sparring gear because he was not in the leadership program, you approached me on our first day back after this tragedy to inform me that we WOULD, in fact, have to purchase the sparring gear (which you stated we can ONLY purchase through ATA at the prices that ATA deems appropriate). Frankly, we are sick of being chiseled out of money by you and we are disgusted by the timing and indelicate delivery of your request.
We are requesting a refund of the remainder of our tuition that we have pre-paid: $200. If you do not, we will take the full description of this situation up with the national ATA organization, and we will include every instance where you canceled classes, neglected to inform us of class time changes, etc. I have already drafted the letter. Assuming we do not see a check from you in our mailbox within 2 weeks, I will pursue this issue with the national organization (and if necessary, the better business bureau).
Kenny and Terra Childers
So take that!!!! Once I was finished, I felt SO grateful to Fa. Jesus Christ that felt good!!! I kept the letter in my car with the intention of mailing it on the way home. I felt this TOTALLY satisfying anger pulsing through me as I drove. I turned up Marmoset’s “Walking Thru the Lake” on my car stereo. And then I forgot to go to the post office, and never did send the letter, and we tucked our tails and backed out of the class like beaten dogs. I wanted to burn the place down, but I couldn't find the energy to buy a stamp much less commit murder.