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Grapevine : March 2011
gave me any feeling of self-esteem. I had not lost my wife and kids. I had pushed them away because they got in the way of my drinking. What got me to that first AA meeting? I had spent all day Sun- day in my office. I was not officially working, but it was a way to get out of the house. I spent the day drinking and writing letters of resignation and nasty notes to people. I later threw the notes away. Thank goodness it was before everyone had computers. Otherwise, I would have been send- ing out those nasty notes as emails. I had been drinking for about six hours when I got a call from a female co-worker. I don't remember what I said, but I know it was inappropri- ate. I was suddenly scared to death. I knew I had put my job in jeopardy. I had known for a while that drinking was a problem for me. Now I knew I had crossed the line. I had heard of AA, but knew nothing about it. I called the number listed in the phone book and was told where I could find a meeting. As I waited nervously for this first AA meeting to begin, a man walked up to me and said, "Hi, I'm Jack. You're new here, aren't you?" I had hoped no one would notice me--- that I could walk in, get the cure and leave. So I lied. "Oh no," I said, "I've been here before." Jack didn't buy it. "No you haven't," he said. He grabbed my arm and took me to a First Step table. At times throughout the meeting, he whispered what was happening. When the basket was passed, I saw the other people pulling out their money, so I took a dollar from my wallet and placed it in the basket. Jack grabbed my dollar and threw it at me. "You're not allowed to pay the first time," he shouted. "You owe us that dollar. You have to come back to- morrow night to pay it." I returned the next night. Jack again grabbed me and guided me through the meeting. This time, my money stayed in the basket. The third night, Jack waved hello, but left me alone. The fourth night, I did not see Jack. In fact, I never saw him again. I honestly believe I owe my life to that man. Without Jack, chances are that the first night I would have sat at a Fifth or a Ninth or who-knows- what-Step table. I would have been confused, embarrassed and over- whelmed. As a result, I would have decided that AA was not for me and I would have kept drinking. Instead, I kept coming back---and have not had a drink since that first meeting. To me, Jack was an AA angel. He cared. He had the courage to chal- lenge my lie. He made sure a new- comer had a chance. Now it's my turn to pass along to newcomers what Jack gave to me. It's one way I can pay him back for the amazing gift that changed my life. Bob R. Shelburne, Vt. Grapevine 47