by Bree L.

Brad O. is a San Francisco born native, born in the Mission District, moved to the Bayview and Sunnydale during his growing up years. He had his first drink when he was twelve. This was the same year his mother was shot by an uncle’s girlfriend. Brad looked for a way to deal with the trauma.

His first solution was brandy. It was too strong so he spit it out.  He didn’t touch alcohol again until college, surviving high school with football, swimming, and sports.

Attending City College, he worked at being cool with a cool girlfriend who happened to have brandy, coke and weed. He joined in and his insecurities vanished.  He became invincible. They would party together, but this stopped when she became pregnant. He dropped out of school and found a job at Kaiser in the surgical suite, environmental services. His girlfriend worked in communications. 

What started as a favor in surgery expanded as he moved into other department

His dealing started when a co-worker asked him if he knew where they might get some drugs. Brad was savvy and began his business as a supply agent of cocaine to Kaiser. What started as a favor in surgery, expanded as he moved into other departments. He was invited to many parties and expected to supply drugs. He started only dealing, but this graduated to using every day with customers and he developed a dependency. His work was affected. The boss said if he called in sick, he would get fired. That night he used, called in sick and got fired.  Afterwards he found there was an undercover person who had been hired to bust him, but he was fired before the arrests started. Soon after there was a huge newsworthy bust. Many lost their jobs. Interestingly no nurses were fired as this impacted patient care, a liability issue.  The year was 1985.

The boss said if he called in sick, he would get fired

Brad moved over to the Hilton, doing security with a side job selling drugs. He became a limo driver, still drinking, still using, still calling in sick and was fired for falsifying timecard documentation. They said there was a ten-minute discrepancy in his log. Along with this, there were racial comments creating a biased work environment. Brad sued and got $400,000 and his attorney got $200,000. Brad bought a house in Sacramento and started working for Muni.

While working for Muni he returned to counting days. His routine was to use on Friday, call in sick on Monday and have a clean UA for Tuesday. He eventually tested dirty and ended up in a twelve-step program. He went to New Bridge in Berkeley for thirty days. From there he moved to Kaiser CDRP, going every day. He accumulated 100 days clean, without working the steps. One hot day while commuting from Sacramento, he had a beer, returned to drinking, using and had another dirty UA. He was fired from Muni and returned to his familiar ways.

 He next found a job with Yellow Pages, where he could drink, meet clients at the bar and sell ad space over the phone. All went well until the internet phased out Yellow Pages, producing less clients and more drinking. He stayed home and drank. In 2008 he tried to hang himself, but an uncle found him.  He was 5150’d into San Francisco General Hospital. He started to see a therapist, got on antidepressants, but continued to drank every day. 

In June of 2016 he was admitted to SFGH vomiting blood.  The alcohol had torn into his esophagus and every morning he gagged and spit up blood. He was discharged after one month. His son’s mother said he could come and stay with her in El Sobrante for one month. She also suggested he talk with Steve, her best friend’s husband, who was in AA. After the month, Brad moved into a sober living house. Steve recommended he stay there. Brad’s sobriety date June 24, 2016.

Brad was now on disability, so he developed a routine: a meeting in the morning in El Sobrante, work on his house in the Bayview, return to El Sobrante for an evening meeting. He did this for a year and in that time became secretary of the Saturday morning meeting, Wake Up on Third. The year was 2017. 

She suggested he talk with Steve, her best friend’s husband, who was in AA

In December of 2019 Brad had a massive heart attack followed by heart surgery the day after Christmas. A.A. became a more active part of his life with the Sunshine group bringing meetings to his house and A.A. friends staying in touch. 

Today A.A. is very much a part of his life, as a Secretary at High Noon on Tuesdays. He hosts the Wake Up on Third on McKinnon, Sunday mornings in Brad’s Bayview back yard. He says, “A.A. is the best thing that ever happened to me.’’

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