He strolled in and took a position in the bar at the end of a row of seats. Seat 84. He then looked at me and said in a slurred voice as he raised his hands up in excitement, “I’ve never been to the West Coast before!”
“No way!” I said raising my hands like he just did adding, “What can I get you, my friend?”
The man was holding his phone and now looked at it in a panic, “You have to hurry…I don’t have much time…”
What? Why? I questioned him and I turned his hand to see what his phone was saying to him.
There in his hands his phone was “lighting up.”
“They know I’ve landed and they are looking for me…”
“My family…read this…”
He turned his phone all the way toward me and words flashed, “Are you okay? We love you! We are so proud of you – Great job! Where are you? We are worried.”
I looked at him, “What’s going on?”
“I’m going to rehab!! Well…back to rehab! It done-ent work! Nope! I’ve done this before…well it was across the street from my house…they say this time will work cause it’s so far…but it won’t work.”
That was the perfect opening for me to respond, “It won’t work because you just said it won’t work. We as humans are always right. You think it will work, it will. You think it won’t, it won’t.”
The man stared me as it he was really trying to understand and said, “So I need a double vodka cranberry before I go…”
At this point I was standing right next to him and leaned close to him and said, “No…you don’t. You made a commitment…you need to keep to it.”
“Yep! I did. I made a commitment…which starts when I get down there…I’m here.” He then looked me in the eye and said, “I need you to get me the drink or I will go where someone else could get me one.”
Really sure at this point I was not going to get him to see the side he had never been able to see, I joined his side and got him his cocktail. With a smile. When I set it down I said, “This is it…the last one…”
“Yep! And there will be one more after this!”
I laughed and shook my head, “You know this is a waste of money. This rehab thing. You are not ready.”
“I know! They don’t know what I know…it’s not going to work! I’ll be back to drinking as soon as this is over.” He says with a laugh.
“You’re right! Cause you just said it!” At this we both laughed. But he continued…”Why? Why doesn’t it work?”
I said, “Because you’re not ready. You have to want to stop. You have to want to change. Do you want to change?”
All this time he was shaking his head, as if to agree and then say “no” just with a gesture.
Then I said, “Most of the alcoholics I know don’t like themselves. Do you like yourself?’
He immediate said, “Nope! Never have! Don’t know why. I just don’t really like myself.”
I looked at the man. And there was a bit of silence. It’s hard for me to understand why an adult does not like themselves. Adults are way too old to not have learned to love their own self. If this is you…look to read anything you can to take care of you. Like this article from Louisehay.com. You are not selfish when you look after yourself. You are the only one that will do this…you are important.
I finally spoke, “That sucks that you don’t like yourself? You seem like a cool guy to me?”
He laughed, “Yeah…”
“So if you don’t like yourself, and this rehab thing isn’t going to work and you are going to start drinking again…what’s going to happen…?”
He said, “I don’t know…what’s going to happen?”
We both knew what that answer was. But he challenged me, and I wasn’t going to back down now.
So I said, “Well…you’ll go home and start drinking again and over time your body will fail and you will die.”
We looked at each other till he said, “You tell your husband, he is a lucky guy.”
I laughed, “He doesn’t listen to me either…”
The man didn’t get the undertones here because he went back to his head as a new guest stood near him, ‘Well…than that’s that.”
(I forgot to tell you this all happened at the airport where I work during the day sometimes. It’s a great place to work, a great experience and so fun and so interesting meeting all the different, crazy, interesting people. This guy was one of them!)
Bottom line…the man had two drinks. Two DOUBLES. Sure I could have stopped him but then I would not have had the time with him that I did. It was his choice. I tried to stop him but in the end, he made his own choices. As he said good-bye to me…he smiled and said, “I will never forget you…thank you for being so kind.” I smiled and wished him good luck. With that he turned and walked toward the exit of our restaurant. He was able to make it okay…weaving from side to side as he walked. Not so badly as to draw attention, but enough for me to see he was clearly at the state of mind he wanted to be going into the new adventure.
Alcoholism is clearly a disease. A nasty, life-controlling parasite that draws in those that do not have a path or a mission or love for themselves. Life is boring and hard without that “solution” to cover real pain and problems.
God bless those who struggle with this disease. I pray you get out as soon as possible.