Students formed pairs, called "checkout twins," to test each other on tapes and bulletins. The Solo class went by attestation system. After a checkout the "coach" attested with his initials and the date on the checksheet, that his twin understood a tape or bulletin.
Ron's checkout procedure was almost as regimented as an auditing session. TRs had to be In, and the coach announced "Start!" at the beginning and "That's it!" to take a break or end the checkout. I covertly thought all this unnecessarily burdensome. With the wrong person coaching, checkouts were more of an inquisition. To make swift progress one needed the right twin. Some individuals got quickly to what seemed to be main points; others bogged down the procedure with apparent trivia, expecting verbatim knowledge of potentially useless material, that is, not germane to the Solo Process -- despite Ron's admonition to select only salient passages in starred bulletins. But on the longer bulletins it was hard to tell what was salient. The dozens of bulletins were in no obvious order. Silly questions might be confused with nattering; if students were perplexed they kept it largely to themselves. But I overheard a heated argument about whether we were supposed to memorize all material in capital letters or only what was grouped into numbered sentences.
In the checkout procedure bulletin, Hubbard demanded that whatever material was picked by the coach to examine on had to be mastered one-hundred percent for a pass. But one never knew exactly what was required. There was a sign on the Solo classroom wall: ONE OF THESE DAYS YOU ARE GOING TO RUN INTO RON ON THE SAINT HILL GROUNDS AND HE MAY CHOOSE TO ASK YOU A QUESTION.
Two Danish ladies, new on Solo, asked me to coach them on the study tapes. They picked me up in their car at the manor one night and drove me to their hotel in town, where they treated me to a steak dinner with wine. We got chummy and slightly giddy, and went upstairs to their room to do checkouts.
The prettier of the two was the brighter one also and I quickly passed her on the tapes. The other had less command of English and couldn't retain the material. I took her slowly along a gentle gradient, practically feeding her the right answers. She continued to falter. I got impatient with her and tried to prod her into the correct responses. My voice became edgy.
As I pounded away at her I saw that she was flustered, reeling from the questioning, her eyes glazed and her normally rosy cheeks pale, and I realized what I was doing to her.
"That's it!" I exclaimed. "Let's take a break."
The three of us sat looking at each other dumbly, in stunned embarrassment.
"I'd love to pass you on this," I said, "but I can't. You know I wouldn't be a good coach if I let you through without the data."