Thursday, July 15, 2004

Chapter 32 Sobering up!

I was bartending in Greenbank and it really wasn’t that hard to not drink.  I didn’t quit because I was an alcoholic, I quit to get the $50.00!!  (And because someone told me I couldn’t!!).  The hardest part was when someone sends a drink back and says it is bourbon and not whiskey.  I used to taste the drink by sticking a straw in the drink and putting my finger over the end and bringing it up to my mouth to taste.  I got the straw up to my mouth and realized OOOPS!!  So I just made a new drink and tossed the other one. 
I was busy at night after work chasing calls for heart attacks, broken legs, car accidents, fire alarms, strokes, etc.  We were on call 24 hours a day, and if we responded through the fire department we would get $5.00 a response.  The money was for reimbursement of fuel and wear and tear on our private vehicles.  I had a green flashing light that I put in my windshield when responding to a call.  The police usually wouldn’t stop us going to a call because they knew where we were going.  Actually they usually got off the road in fear for their own lives knowing the volunteer fire department just got a call at three AM and are sleepy and speeding!!  Imagine being in a sound sleep, then your radio alarm goes off at high volume.  That is what it is like getting a call in the middle of the night.  After I peeled myself off of the ceiling, I would run to the bathroom (a must).  I kept things close at hand for when I would run out the door.  I about died laughing once, my husband was up drinking his beer at three AM and I got a call.  I was heading out of the bedroom at mach speed and he had the cat in his arms and was flat against the wall saying “Look out Rascal, here she comes!!”  I would wake up in a start and my eyes would get huge and my heart would be beating out of my chest!!  I was at a doctor’s appointment and asked him what I could do to not be so anxious during the calls.  He looked at me and said ”Turn down the volume of the pager”.  Well DUH!!!!  That worked!!  What a concept!
The next time I worked with Tony he asked how I was doing on the drinking bit.  I told him I haven’t been drinking, and it wasn’t a problem with me.  He said if I ever wanted to go to an AA meeting to let him know and he would take me.  I was actually curious at what those meetings were like, so I told him I would like to go.  The next day he took me to a noon meeting in Mt.Vernon.  He didn’t clue me in on what went on in the meetings, so I was actually caught off guard!  We were all sitting at tables and the chairperson opened up the meeting by saying “We will have a moment of silence to reflect on why we are here, followed by the Serenity Prayer.”  Then he asked if there was anyone here with 24 hours of sobriety to give us your first name so we could get to know you.  Then he said is there anyone here with less than 30 days, give us your first name so we could get to know you.  A gal stood up and said “My name is Patty, and I’m an alcoholic.”  Everyone said “Hi Patty, welcome”.  Then they all looked at me, then I looked at Tony and of course he wasn’t looking at me.  So I stood up and said “hi, I’m Phyllis, and I don’t know if I’m and alcoholic or not, I’m just here to see what the meetings are like”.  OOOOPS!!  The meeting was focused on me of course!!  I remember one guy saying “Young lady, you probably haven’t had you last drink yet, but I can guarantee you this, with a mind full of AA you will never enjoy another drink again!! The bastard!!  What the fuck did he know about me? 
Everyone at the meeting was friendly and obviously knew each other and were friends.  They all laughed when someone talked and even laughed when they reflected on some bad times.  At the end of the meeting I got up to leave and everyone got up and grabbed hands and stood in a circle and said the Lord’s Prayer.  Good grief, what kind of cult is this??, how HOKEY!!!  I was mad at Tony for not letting me know what went on at the meetings ahead of time!  When I take people to meetings for the first time I let them know what will be said so they won’t be shocked!!  Well I was still curious so I started going to noon meetings to see what the heck all this AA stuff was about.  I went to Mount Vernon 40 miles away because I was still bartending here on the Island and didn’t want my reputation for being a bartender ruined.  (It’s ok if I get drunk and fall off the barstool, but heaven forbid if I ever went to one of those AA meetings)  I remember saying at the bar, I’m not an alcoholic, I don’t go to meetings, and we’d all laugh!!  Little did I know!!
More tomorrow!!

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