7.06.2006

Alcoholism


My Desktop: 01.29.2006
Originally uploaded by powerbooktrance.
I've taken a good four nights off in a row now, both from work and updating this bad boy, so I guess I'll try to get back to telling older stories.

Something that I've really only touched upon in this blog so far, but is incredibly central to who I am and how I approach my job, is the fact that I'm a recovering alcoholic. This means that I used to drink (and, to a lesser extent, use drugs like a madman). It also means that these days the most powerful substances I put in my body are sugar, nicotine, and occasionally caffeine.

This is a good thing, both for me and you. Believe me, if I were giving you a ride home from the bar a year and a half ago, we were both going to get some practice at "letting go and letting God."

My first night driving a cab, I got a call to pick up at Ya Hala, one of my favorite restaurants in town. Lebanese place around 80th & Stark. I pulled up and they were closing down, the hostess came out and asked me to wait. She escorted out a middle-aged white woman who looked middle-class and respectable. She tried to get in the front seat, and I asked her politely to sit in back. Instead of doing so, she turned around and started walking toward 82nd. I got out and asked her if she wanted a ride.

"I want to go home." She said.

"Well okay, get in."

"I don't feel safe in the back."

"Where do you live?" (note that, saint that I am, I've already learned by my first night to measure my level of accommodation by the size of the fare)

"Around 26th & Taylor," she replies.

"That's cool, I'll move my stuff. You're headed in the wrong direction anyway if you're trying to get home" I did so. This woman appeared to be very drunk, and I didn't feel like I could in good conscience let any woman that tanked stroll around 82nd late at night (it's a street renowned for its prostitutes).

She got in the cab and immediately started doing this snuffling/crying thing. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that she kept trying to quit drinking, but just couldn't.

I told her that I'd been sober for a while, and when she asked me how and why I'd done it I told her the truth - that I'd spent most of my life miserable and filled with fear, and most of my life since my adolescence drunk or high on something. I'd basically gotten to a point where I was sick of feeling useless and incapable of doing anything. That it took me another year or so of increasing desperation to finally put two and two together and realize that maybe I was so ineffectual and unmotivated because I was getting shitfaced all the time. That after failing miserably at attempts to control and moderate my drinking, I decided that I should give AA a shot, and that I've been sober ever sine. I also told her that the easiest thing for me, when I was tempted to drink or use, was to just compare my life then and my life now, and see just how much happier and positive I feel now that I'm sober.

"I just can't do it," she said.

"Are you happy?"

"No."

"Do you feel like you can control your drinking?"

"No."

"Do you think you'd be happier if you cut it out? That maybe you wouldn't find yourself in situations like this, crying to a cab driver at one in the morning about how unhappy you are?"

"Yes."

"Well, this is just my opinion, but it sounds to me like you'd be a complete idiot to keep on drinking."

"Take me to Zupan's to get some wine."

I explained to her that Zupan's was closed, as was Fred Meyer and the corner stores around her (I forgot about the Plaid on Belmont, and couldn't remember whether Walgreen's sells booze). "Look," I told her, "if you really want a drink, I'll buy the goddamn thing for you, but I can't tell you how fucking dumb that sounds to me."

And I meant it - I'm not the type to try and ram my way of life down anyone else's throat, and've always been of the opinion that the only way someone's ever going to be convinced they're alcoholic is if they somehow manage to convince themselves with their own massively self-destructive behavior and self-loathing.

So she asked me to take her to her boyfriend's. I did, and she asked me to come up to his apartment with her, because he'd have to pay me. He was sober too, and she'd be safe with him. We go up there, and she knocks on the door.

"Go away," he says.

"Please let me in."

"No, go away and leave me alone, I've got my own problems."

"I just want a hug."

"Fuck you."

"You always bug me for sex, and I just want a hug!"

"Go away."

etc.

We ended up leaving, with her of course doing her snuffling thing like ten times worse than before. I took her home, gave her the ride for free, and told her that in my opinion she'd be a lot better off going to an AA meeting in the morning, dumping her boyfriend, and not drinking.

I guess my whole point in posting this story is that in a lot of ways I'm profoundly grateful for this job. As a recovering alcoholic driving a cab nights, I get constant reminders of what my life used to be like, what it could potentially revert back to, and just how bad it could eventually get. Because honestly, I got pretty pathetic there for a while, and I don't ever want to get to the point that some of my customers get to.

And like I said, I'm no great preacher, but it's also good to be in a position where I can occasionally show people that there are other ways to go about things. And though this is a job, and I do it to get paid, there is a small satisfaction that comes in keeping drunks off the road.

But there's a bigger one in getting paid, and even bigger one in hassle-free nights that are light on the kind of drunken idiocy I used to specialize in.

2 Comments:

Blogger MJ06 said...

I dont understand people some times you told her hey look maybe for your own good you should give drinking a rest and then she cries about how horrible her life is but then after you told her to put drinking aside she asks you to take her to get some wine whats wrong with her you know?

July 06, 2006 5:13 PM  
Blogger wil said...

Its sad but she hasn't hit her "low point" yet. Until that happens, she'll never be able to begin the road to recovery and there is nothing thst snyone can say or do to help her.

July 06, 2006 6:22 PM  

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