By Cabin Wisdom
Latecomers to AA meetings are such a nuisance. They arrive late. Grab what’s left of all the coffee. Make a kerfuffle in the kitchen and the meeting rooms as they shuffle in. Then, of course, these are the ones who hijack the topic and talk for 10 minutes. What a pain!
Until I heard the following story. There was a guy who always showed up late and left early. You might even know this person(s). There I was, sitting with a grudge fertilized by resentment, every time this man showed up late, left early, and shared at length. Finally I spoke with him, inquiring what the deal was with his timing of the meetings.
Here’s what he said: “I’m a driver for the sick and infirm. The doctors’ appointments are often early in the morning, or my riders are slow and late. He went on to say, “Meetings are like a pie. If you attend a whole meeting, you get a whole pie. If you come during half a meeting, you get a slice of the pie. For me, I get a sampling of the meeting which sustains me through the day.”
The grudge with the fertilizer melted. The stinking thinking ended. I would rather have this person with us for his piece of peace than drinking in a lonely alley someplace.
Alcoholics have selective memory. Like the Barbra Streisand song, “It’s the laughter we will remember.” We forget where we came from. So much for the “conviviality and gay laugher.” In the end, there was no laughter.
As this gentleman spoke, I began to recall the early days when I worked in San Francisco and had to cross the Golden Gate Bridge to be downtown by 8 o’clock. Our 7 a.m. Cabin Meeting was a lifeline. If only for the first half-hour, I got to hear the Steps and claim my seat, lest I forget the drama and chaos of the past.
One such dramatic ending came this week with the knowledge one of our members was found slumped over in a chair in the dark recesses of an apartment. After 911 was called, the sheriff came out to say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” About the same time, another member was in a head-on collision with a bus. Killed our friend. His partner made it home and died there. Within the past couple of days came these two stories. The reality of our disease.
Here’s a list from The Cabin so helpful to us alcoholics.
The thinking that precedes the first drink:
1) I can handle it.
2) I’ll show them, him, her.
3) I miss the fun.
4) It wasn’t that bad.
5) Life is passing me by. I should have this, that, him, her.
6) Is this all there is?
7) One wouldn’t hurt. I deserve one.
8) Next time, this time, it will be different.
9) What’s the use?
The AA beam lights the way for all. It is we who choose to take up the discipline by following a few simple “suggestions.” Only 12 of them in fact – along with the oral tradition, pass-it-on virtue of “go to meetings, call your sponsor, work the Steps, be of service, and above all: Don’t drink no matter what.” We used to say, “You can’t save your face and your ass at the same time.” Or, “Even if your ass falls off, take it to a meeting.”
So come to the meeting. Have your peace of pie.