Warning: This poem is intense. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. Calliope and Vagary go to couples therapy in hope of learning how to hurt each other less. This entails a lot of necessary unpleasantness. They're not entirely on the same page regarding their relationship, and they're just beginning to work on it, so things are awkward and not very healthy right now. Readers are therefore encouraged to observe what's working, what's not, and what's questionable; then prompt for desired solutions or predictable blowups. This poem features angst, reluctance, cultural differences, boundary issues, anger, sadness, interpersonal differences, and other challenges. On the upside, they are taking concrete steps to address their problems, and making progress with that. If these are sensitive areas for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.
"The Pattern for the Future"
Calliope drove herself and Vagary to
their first counseling appointment. It was
easier now that she had the big brace off
of her hand, only a small splint remaining
to protect the split knuckle on her first finger.
"This is the place," Vagary said, pointing
at a two-storey building shaped like an L.
His voice only blurred a little from the line of
stitches below his lip. Most of the swelling had
gone down, although the bruise still looked awful,
blue and purple in the center but beginning
to fade into green around the edges.
Calliope parked the car in the lot,
then sat still for a minute, taking
slow deep breaths to steel herself
for the ordeal to come.
Vagary lifted a hand, hesitated,
then set it on her knee. "I can
feel how freaked you are about
this meeting," he said. "The guy's
really good, I checked. Besides,
we're both super, if it goes south
we can just phase out of there."
Calliope laughed. "Leave it
to a supervillain to think of
that as reassurance."
"Always have an exit plan,"
Vagary said with a shrug.
Calliope dragged herself out of
the car and into the lobby, which was
open and airy, full of potted plants.
Vagary went to the reception desk
to log them in, and Calliope caught
the secretary's double-take at his face.
That was really getting old.
Vagary just gave the woman
a half-smile on the good side
and said, "That's why we're here."
Soon an intern came to walk them
down the secure hallway, which had
a gorgeous pink-and-blue tile mosaic
down the middle of the floor.
"This is our quiet room, in case you
need a break," the young man said
as he opened the door to a small area.
It had fuzzy brown sectional furniture
and an aquarium full of languid fish.
Calliope would have preferred
something lighter, like the lobby,
but she said, "That's nice," anyway.
"Upstairs is our multipurpose room
for the larger sessions of group therapy,
yoga, meditation, and social activities,"
the intern continued. "We have a variety
of meetings for troubled relationships if
either of you might want support for that."
"I'd like to know more," said Vagary.
"Right this way," the intern said as he
led them up the stairs to the spacious room
with creamy yellow walls, which was
a lot more to Calliope's liking.
There they took a group session schedule
for Vagary. "Thanks," he said quietly.
They got to see the small meeting room,
too, which included a library along one wall
full of self-help and other therapeutic books.
"This one is open to clients when not
in session," the intern explained.
"That could be useful," Vagary said,
looking at the wall of materials.
"You're in Office 1 with Mr. Gallagar,"
the intern said finally, ushering them into
a room with mismatched furniture and
yet another bookcase. This one was
handsome walnut and held not just
books but also a quirky collection
of knickknacks along the shelves.
Mr. Gallagar was middle-aged,
his brown hair going gray along
the sides, and he wore an expression
of gentle concern. "Please, come in
and sit down," he said to them.
A wave of his hand indicated
the furniture, and Calliope frowned.
The only other option besides his own
leaf-printed chair was a gray loveseat.
She scrunched herself as far into
the corner as she could.
"I can stand," Vagary said.
"I could call for another chair,"
Mr. Gallagar offered. "We have
plenty of folding ones available.
I just find that proximity sometimes
helps couples communicate better."
"Sit the fuck down," Calliope said
to Vagary. "I am not made of glass."
Gingerly he lowered himself into
the loveseat, careful not to touch her.
The introductions were just as awkward,
and Calliope kept staring at the shelves
of junk to keep herself distracted.
"The initial contact indicated
that your core conflict wasn't safe
to write down, and therefore would be
introduced at this meeting," Mr. Gallagar said,
which yanked Calliope's attention back.
Vagary glanced at Calliope for permission
even though they'd already agreed on this.
She nodded to him.
"I'm a supervillain, Calliope is a superhera,"
said Vagary. "Those aren't things we want
to change, but that's how we got tangled up."
"Thank you for trusting me with that,"
said Mr. Gallagar. "I will not pry into
your superpowers if you don't feel ready
to talk about that, but it might help me
understand how this got so bad."
"I have Air Powers and a little Empathy,"
said Calliope. "It's the Phasing that
caused the problem, though." She
left out the Shapeshifting along with
her anger at Vagary's clumsiness.
"I have Phasing and Telepathy,"
said Vagary. "She's stronger.
Everyone hates it if I phase
through them, it's creepy."
Mr. Gallagar tilted his head.
"I'm curious about how it feels,
if you don't mind a demonstration."
"You're crazy, but okay," said Vagary.
He touched the counselor's extended hand,
and then melted right through it.
Mr. Gallagar jerked his hand back,
wringing it with the other. "That was
the most peculiar sensation," he said.
Then he stuck his hand out. "Do it again."
Vagary's jaw dropped. "Dude.
You just cost me a case of Azure Cap."
"I'll pay for it," Mr. Gallagar said at once,
without even asking for an explanation.
"No, it's my bet. I don't welch," Vagary said,
shaking his head. "I just never expected
anyone to want a second round."
Mr. Gallagar waggled his fingers.
"I'm still waiting on that."
Vagary did it again -- and this time
he jerked back in surprise.
"What did you do?"
"I think the problem comes
from an instinctive response
to an unfamiliar intrusion,"
said Mr. Gallagar. "Once I
knew how 'you' felt, then I
could consciously let you in.
Less resistance, less discomfort."
"That might be part of what happened,"
Calliope said slowly. "Since we were
both phased, our natural resistance to
each other's energy might have lowered."
"What happened?" Mr. Gallagar asked.
"We had a superpower accident, so
now our energy is linked," said Vagary.
"I made a lot of mistakes ..."
He summarized their history together with
ruthless precision, ending with the disaster
of a trip to Europe and their fight at home.
"Calliope, would you like to add anything
to that?" Mr. Gallagar asked. "You
haven't said much thus far."
"This was Vagary's idea," she said.
"He keeps doing things that make me
respond in ways I am not comfortable with."
"I won't let you hit me at home," Vagary said.
"This was the first such incident?"
the counselor asked them.
"The first time it got this bad, yes,"
Vagary said, waving at his split lip.
"You don't have to wait for someone
to mistreat you repeatedly," said Mr. Gallagar.
"All it takes is once, and if they get away with it
that once, if they know they can treat you like that,
then it sets the pattern for the future."
"That's why I'm here," said Calliope.
"I don't want to be a bully. I also don't want
Vagary to keep violating my boundaries."
"Mmm," said Mr. Gallagar. "I'd like you both
to do a checklist on destructive relationships."
He took out some pages and handed them over.
Calliope wasn't thrilled at yet more paperwork,
but she diligently answered the questions.
When they finished, Mr. Gallagar looked over
the replies, then put the pages into a file.
"What would you say is bothering you
the most right now?" he asked.
"She hit me outside of a street fight,"
said Vagary. "But I keep doing shit
that hurts her too, and that's ... bad."
"I don't want this bond," Calliope said.
"I don't want to be tied to someone who
keeps wrecking my life. I can't afford
to lose control like that, it's dangerous."
"What are your prevailing emotions
in this relationship?" said Mr. Gallagar.
"That's just it!" Calliope said, throwing
up her hands. "We don't have one.
We just got stuck together randomly.
It makes me so angry -- everything
he does pisses me off, because I
don't want him in my life at all."
"Mostly I'm just sad, because I
feel the bond a lot more than
Calliope does, and it hurts that
everything is such a wreck,"
said Vagary. "Sometimes I'm
scared, though, not just of her
but of our superpowers too."
That just made Calliope angrier,
and her fist thumped against
the padded arm of the loveseat.
Calliope tucked her hand
under her thigh. "Sorry."
"Well done," Mr. Gallagar murmured.
"That's a good sign that you two
are paying attention to each other,
and observing how your actions
affect the other person."
"I feel ..." Vagary cast around
the room for inspiration, and then
fixed on one of the knickknacks.
"Like Humpty-Dumpty, there."
Calliope winced. She might be
furious at what had happened,
but she didn't feel broken by it.
"All right, let's look for some
common ground," said Mr. Gallagar.
"First, are you both committed to
this relationship and therefore
willing to work on it here?"
"I am," said Vagary.
"I don't want it, but Vagary says
that it's not breakable," said Calliope.
"Do you consider that information valid,
or would you like to investigate further?"
Mr. Gallagar asked her, leaning forward.
"I can check around, but ... I think
he's probably right," said Calliope.
"Besides, we're stuck with each other
right now, so we need to deal with that.
I wish I could have my life back."
"That's a good opening for individual goals,"
said Mr. Gallagar. "It sounds to me like
you need to find certainty on the issue of
whether or not to continue the relationship,
and you have some mourning to do for
the independence you've lost. Yes?"
Calliope nodded. "That's about it."
"Vagary, what about you?"
Mr. Gallagar said, turning to him.
"I keep fucking up everything,"
said Vagary. "She's been telling me
to take classes in personal boundaries
and other social skills, and I have, but it's
not helping fast enough. I'm getting better
but I still make really bad mistakes."
"So first, you need to fill the gaps of
whatever you're missing in people skills;
and second, you need practice to apply
those skills," said Mr. Gallagar. "Yes?"
"That sounds right," Vagary agreed.
"What would each of you like from
the other?" Mr. Gallagar said.
"Stop butting into my life!"
Calliope said, gritting her teeth.
"I don't want you in it. I'll put up with
you coming around when the bond
drags you in, but that is all."
Vagary looked away. "I won't
ask for anything. Even what
I need is already too much."
"You can't think of anything
that might make your headwork
a little easier?" said Mr. Gallagar.
"I don't know, maybe ..." Vagary said,
looking sidelong at Calliope. "... if you
could be patient with me while I am
learning, that might help. I'm trying."
"That's an encouraging sign,"
Mr. Gallagar said. "Both of you
recognize problems -- your own
and your partner's -- and you're
at least willing to entertain the idea
of looking for new solutions. That
puts you ahead of many people."
"I guess so," Calliope said.
"Let's return to seeking common ground,"
said Mr. Gallagar. "Are you unhappy
with the status quo between you?"
"Yes," they chorused.
"So a mutual goal could be
working to improve interactions?"
Mr. Gallagar suggested.
Calliope and Vagary shared a look.
"I want us to stop hurting each other,"
Vagary said. "It's not good, it's not safe."
"I agree," Calliope said. "I just don't
know how to get from here to there."
"That's my job," said Mr. Gallagar.
"You set the destination; I find the route.
It's what therapy is all about."
That sounded surprisingly useful,
Calliope realized as she thought about it.
"Here are some couples workbooks,"
the counselor said, setting out a stack.
"See if any of these look helpful."
Vagary examined the offerings,
selected several for himself, and then
tentatively suggested one for Calliope.
She took it without a word.
They had to try something.
"I think one root cause of conflict
is that you two are stuck together,
but it happened quite suddenly --
you fell into a very intimate situation
with no preparation," said Mr. Gallagar.
"We are not having sex!" Calliope snapped.
"There are many types of intimacy,"
said Mr. Gallagar. "Sexual, physical,
emotional, spiritual, financial, and so on."
"Mystical," Vagary said quietly.
"Our powers are linked. I feel it,
Calliope, even if you don't. And
I think you feel it enough to be
freaked out by it, that's why
you keep shoving me away."
Calliope crossed her arms. "Whatever."
"Since you are dealing with this situation
together, at this time, I think that one way
to ease a little of the tension would be
for you to get to know each other more,"
said Mr. Gallagar. "You may not like
each other, but it would help you
to understand each other better."
"That's up to her," Vagary
said to his shoes.
Calliope did not want to make nice
with a supervillain, but neither
did she want to be a bully.
"I can live with it," she said.
"That brings us to the cyclic problem
which you're having," said Mr. Gallagar.
"Vagary pursues and Calliope withdraws.
That much is clear, although it will take
some work to identify the emotions and
unmet attachment needs that underlie
that recurring conflict and fix it."
He offered them another worksheet.
"Here's a list of universal human needs.
See if you can figure out what's gone missing,
and then we'll see whether those overlap."
Calliope looked at the page and marked
peace of mind, autonomy, to matter, equality,
sense of self, and challenge on hers.
When she saw Vagary's, she groaned.
He had checked subsistence and security
with extra lines under physical safety and
touch; security, closeness, acceptance,
belonging, contribution, and communion.
The only places they overlapped were
where one person had singled out something
as a subcategory under a larger category
the other had marked as important.
"It's all right," said Mr. Gallagar.
"You have some things in common
even if they aren't on the same level.
The differences mean that you have
a lot to learn from each other. I feel
that we can make great progress."
"We," Calliope said, "like you're
going to be doing any of the hard work."
Mr. Gallagar grinned at her. "Of course
I am!" he said. "I've only had a few soup clients,
and never a cross-cape pair before. I'm sure
that you'll teach me a great deal in our time
together, and I look forward to that."
"Huh," she said, sitting back.
"Now, I do not ask my clients to sign
any 'contracts' about their care, because I've
found it drives people away," said Mr. Gallagar.
"Instead, I'd like for you to consider your feelings
about counseling now that you've gotten a taste of it,
and whether you can trust me as a therapist.
Last worksheet today, I promise."
Calliope saw that it only contained
two questions, but asked for her own
perspective and Vagary's too.
The first inquired how willing they
were to do the homework after sessions,
and the second asked how comfortable
they felt about couples counseling.
Well, obviously Vagary was ahead of her
on both of those; he'd been level-grinding
social skills ever since their entanglement.
She wrote down her viewpoint,
and then guessed at his.
Surprisingly, when Vagary revealed
his worksheet, their answers matched.
"All right, based on our conversation today,
I feel confident that I can help you two
come to terms with what's happened and
hurt each other less," said Mr. Gallagar.
"Community services will cover up to
six months of weekly sessions, which
should make a lot of progress, and there
are options to continue if you wish.
What would you like to do now?"
Vagary looked at Calliope.
"I agreed to come," she said.
"I don't like this, but I like the idea
of turning into a whackjob even less.
So if you're still interested, I'm in."
She owed him for busting his lip,
and she wasn't a welcher either.
"We'd like weekly sessions, please,"
said Vagary. "I can't promise we'll
always be available because of our jobs,
though. Will that be a problem?"
"Not if I log you as first responders,"
said Mr. Gallagar. "Do call in if you know
ahead of time you can't attend an appointment,
so we can refill that slot, but for emergencies,
notification after the fact will suffice."
"I'm also interested in the support groups,"
said Vagary. "I've got some of my own,
but local ones might help me too."
"Most of those are free for whomever
finds them useful," said Mr. Gallagar.
"I'd like to know more about whatever
other therapy you're each doing, though."
"I ... can't say much about mine,"
Vagary said. "It's very private."
"I don't want to talk about mine either,"
Calliope said. "I have another therapist
for an ongoing issue, that's going fine now.
It doesn't impact the mess with Vagary."
"Are you certain about that?"
Mr. Gallagar said, steepling his hands.
"Actually, I am," said Calliope. "I thought,
briefly, it might be an issue, but he has
never done anything wrong because of
that stuff. I'm not worried about it now."
Vagary's answering smile was almost lost
in the mess that she'd made of his mouth.
"All right, then, I'll let it drop," said Mr. Gallagar.
"Please let me know if anything you've classed
as irrelevant should become relevant to
our work here, though. Agreed?"
"Yes," they chorused.
Calliope really hoped it wouldn't
come to that, though. She didn't
want any more people finding out
about her secret identity.
"Then I'll close by suggesting that
you drive around town a little on
your way home," said Mr. Gallagar.
"It's an easy communication exercise --
just remark on things you observe,
preferably neutral facts. You may
share personal interests, but try
not to pry into your partner's."
"I'm up for that," Vagary said,
giving Calliope a hopeful look.
Calliope flexed her injured hand,
which made him look away again.
"I can manage it," she said.
"Excellent," said Mr. Gallagar.
"Then I'll see you both next week."
They shook hands, and then left.
As promised, Calliope drove around
to show Vagary a few of the sights --
she knew the local attractions that
were worth pointing out to tourists.
Downtown had a lovely stretch
of live-work buildings along with
a few bits of pioneer architecture.
Calliope indicated some landmarks,
like the statue of a bucking bronco
in the middle of a circle drive. She
might not like Vagary, but she had
her native reputation to hold up in
terms of being a decent tour guide.
"Oh! You have a museum!"
Vagary exclaimed, pressing his nose
against the window as they drove past.
"Yeah, that's the Sheerar Cultural Center,"
Calliope said. "When I was little, my class
came here on a field trip from Tulsa, and I
kind of fell in love with the place. That's part
of why I moved here, I wanted somewhere
pretty but more open than the big city."
"I didn't know that," Vagary said.
"I like museums a lot."
"They have permanent displays on
local history, plus the rotating shows,"
said Calliope. "Admission is free, if
you want to go there some time."
"I think I'd enjoy that," Vagary said.
"I'd like to get to know this place better."
Maybe that would take a little of
the weight off of Calliope.
That Mr. Gallagar knew his stuff.
"Okay," said Calliope.
"I can show you around."
This time Vagary's grin was
wide enough to strain his split lip
and make him wince, but that
didn't stop him from smiling.
They couldn't change their wreck
of a past, but maybe they could begin
a more hopeful pattern for the future.
* * *
Blandon Gallagar -- He has pinkish-fair skin, brown eyes, and brown hair going gray at the sides. Because he grew up in a dysfunctional family, he put a lot of work into overcoming that, and it inspired him to help others. Blandon currently works as a counselor in Stillwater, Oklahoma where Calliope lives, specializing in couples (married or otherwise). Tolerant and observant, he has a good reputation in the community. He collects knickknacks and rotates some of them through his office as conversation starters.
Qualities: Master (+6) Couples Counselor, Expert (+4) Observant, Expert (+4) Tolerance, Good (+2) Collector of Knickknacks, Good (+2) Reputation, Good (+2) Yogi
Poor (-2) Dysfunctional Family of Birth
* * *
"You don't have to wait for someone to treat you bad repeatedly. All it takes is once, and if they get away with it that once, if they know they can treat you like that, then it sets the pattern for the future."
-- Abuse Quotes
This map of the Great Plains shows Oklahoma, where Calliope lives, although she travels around to nearby states as well. Stillwater, Oklahoma has a population around 47,000. It is the tenth-largest city in Oklahoma, and listed as one of the top 100 places to live. On the downside, it's in Tornado Alley. Stillwater lies about halfway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, north of the highway connecting those two cities. Like most places in Terramagne-America, the downtown includes a lot of live-work buildings which are designed to facilitate community interaction. A variety of statues and other artwork serve as landmarks. The Sheerar Cultural Center covers local history.
The Tranquility Counseling Center offers a variety of mental health services. The reception area is open and airy. It has posters for mental fitness, living well, talking about mental illness, and helping friends. The secure hallway separates the reception area from the offices, although it's usually left open. Here is the client bathroom, and the space beside it is the nap room. The tenant bathroom has been remodeled to include a shower. The little square beside the stairs is the quiet room. It has a basket of stress relief supplies. Learn how to make your own sensory kit or emotional first aid kit. Posters of coping skills and stress relief activities bracket the door. The break room includes a kitchen and dining area with couches and a bookcase along the back wall. This is the couples counseling room (office #1). It has posters of the control wheel (left of door), relationship health check (on door), and equality wheel (right of door). Here is the family counseling room (office #2). It has a Be Kind to Your Mind balloon poster and Calm Down Yoga for Kids poster to the left of the play corner, and family relationship tips on the door. This is the individual counseling room (office #3). It has posters of virtues (left of door) and self-talk (right of door). Here is the small meeting room (office #4). This is the self-advocacy poster for an ongoing support group for people with developmental disabilities, mental problems, neurovariance, or other reasons they need to stick up for themselves; there are topical and general sessions. This is the self-care poster for a one-month treatment plan about personal wellbeing. A new session starts each month, beginning with several days of introduction and trustbuilding, and ending with a brief wrapup. The small-group format helps people make new friends and engage social support for self-care. The quiet corner fills the niche in the small meeting room. Upstairs lies the large meeting room (multipurpose room on the floor plan). It has posters of group rules, Be Kind to Your Mind with sayings, yoga principles, and yoga poses.
Behind the Tranquility Counseling Center lies a healing garden in the center of the block they share with several other buildings. It features small patches of lawn broken up by flowerbeds and a rocky stream. Walking paths provide access to several sitting areas. Read about design principles and make your own healing garden.
Bruises come from blunt impact on the body. It is possible to estimate the age of a bruise by observing color changes (at least on light-skinned people) but this is far from exact.
Coping skills include breathing exercises. This video demonstrates breathing for calm. Learn how to develop coping strategies, think ahead, and always have an exit plan.
Group therapy offers an opportunity to share common experiences for support and problem-solving. There are groups specializing in many issues including interpersonal skills and troubled relationships.
Ordinarily, knickknacks serve as conversation starters. In art therapy and other counseling, found objects can reveal more of a person's inner thoughts. Sand tray therapy is a more organized application of this premise. It uses stones and figures for nonverbal expression and/or a framework of conversation. You can make your own sand play set.
Mutual abuse happens, and in fact, it is the most likely result whenever you combine two people with impaired social skills and/or traumatic backgrounds. Some people disbelieve in it, due to the tendency of abusers to fob off blame on their victims. In this case, it's pretty clear that Calliope and Vagary are hurting each other in different ways, and their behavior connects very strongly to each person's own background. Here's a comparison of batterers, mutual combatants, and victims. This questionnaire addresses destructive relationships and includes mutual abuse.
A soulbond is a subtype of the bound together trope. These terms actually cover a wide range of mystical or material circumstances in which two (often poorly-matched) characters are stuck with each other. The mystical type of bond is usually portrayed as forcing them to become compatible or fall in love. This story arc is about what happens when that kind of handwaving doesn't happen.
Anger and fear are related yet distinct emotions. Understand the body language of anger, hostility, and fearfulness. There are ways to overcome negative feelings.
The concept of a relationship bank account addresses the amount of positive energy each person contributes vs. the amount of trouble they cause. I think it's an exaggeration to say you have RBAs with everyone you meet, but certainly you do for all the people you see regularly enough to recognize each other and recall the nature of your interactions. Most humans seem to have a monkeysphere of around 100-250 people. That's about how many RBAs a typical brain can handle. A key problem between Calliope and Vagary is that he realizes they have a relationship (because they are mystically connected and keep interactin) while she thinks they don't (because they didn't choose their connection and don't like each other). Here are some tips on maintaining a healthy RBA.
Person-centered therapy can be a discipline unto itself, or simply a perpective within any school of counseling that prioritizes a client's viewpoint and objectives. This comes clear the most in looking at how goals are established and described. In this case, Mr. Gallagar coaxes Calliope and Vagary into describing their problems and what they'd like to change, then frames their goals in a concise way.
Impatience is generally considered a vice, but it has its own pros and cons. Patience is a virtue worth developing. This is especially important with mentally ill or otherwise difficult people. One reason Vagary has a hard time getting along with Calliope is because she gives him only negative feedback on fuckups, not positive feedback on improvements, and she wants him to stop being a pain in the ass now, not a year from now.
Relationship counseling often entails a search for common ground. Here are tips on how to find common ground and de-escalate conflicts.
Couples workbooks include the Lifeline Couples Workbook and Marriage Preparation Workbook II. Here are some therapy worksheets for relationships. This batch focuses on setting goals as a couple.
Intimacy is important for successful relationships. It has more types than just sexual. There are ways to deepen intimacy, and ideally, relationships should move through the stages in order.
Emotionally focused therapy deals in adult relationships. It offers some very useful worksheets including an individual problem checklist and a couples questionnaire. This is the pursuit cycle worksheet and the list of universal human needs. This is the final worksheet about willingness to work on the problems.
Missing appointments is a nuisance for everyone, but some amount of this is inevitable, and some people (without cars, with small children, working multiple jobs, with erratic health, etc.) have unavoidable limits on their ability to meet a schedule. Haranguing people about it kills help-seeking behavior. Instead, work the problem. Reasons include forgetfulness and communication problems, along with logistics such as outside obligations. Harsh treatment of clients has negative results; a few sources mention positive reinforcement for people who reach their appointments on time. The most effective solution applies to the biggest reason: reminders fix forgetfulness. L-American offices usually use automated notices; this is cheap but impersonal. T-American offices usually use personal contact; it costs more but it improves relationships, and these are jobs which can easily be done by disabled employees or retired volunteers who couldn't do more physical work. There are many different ways to prevent or deal with missed appointments. Emptied slots may be filled from a stand-by list, walk-ins, or taking an emergency client sooner. The best policy I've seen here involves no fees, blaming language, or bans. As long as people contact to cancel, it's no problem. The first no call-no show has no penalty. After that, there is a temporary span in which the person can't book an appointment, but after that they can; it goes from one to six months based on the number of skips. This minimizes penalizing people for being broke or otherwise unable to keep a schedule; and it rewards notification, so the service can easily refill the emptied slot.
It's nice to know how to act as a local tour guide for visiting friends. For inspiration, consider tips on being a tourist in your own town or welcoming new neighbors.</user>