A loan to Nick my favorite Iranian barber along with a much needed haircut, a car wash, some possible religious veneration and a coax to a would be lady friend put me in the local proximity of North West Houston and to the Champions forest A.A. group. It had been several years since my last visit there and I thought an opportunity to share my experience, strength and hope and to most certainly pass out some RumRadio.org recovery business cards in that neck of the woods.
Before entering I met someone new to the program and he exclaimed that he had had 90days, congratulations! I asked would you be getting your 90 day chip at the meeting? No was his reply, I drank yesterday so now I only have 89 days. We had met once before and he was now working twice as hard, determined to get down to the core of his causes and conditions..
I entered the broad door way that led to the half measures room (the social gathering place, rumpus room, and coffee bar) as half measures availed us nothing and was immediately attacked by the acrid stench of countless years of second hand tobacco smoke. Some of the regular lounge lizards were dragging away on their fire breathing cigarette sticks and passing time while playing card games and dominoes. I tried to place myself down wind but then realized there is was no down wind as the smoke seemed to have a mind of it’s own and was determined to follow me where ever I would go. I scooted and skirted around the ever thickening billows and tried to engage in light conversation as to the memories when smoking and A.A. was part and parcel. Bill W died in part of the tobacco addiction even conceding that not only was it doing harm to himself but to his ever dutiful and loving wife Lois and for Dr. Bob it most likely hood it helped to speed up his untimely departure.
It brought back memories of the militancy of tobacco addiction. My original home group (The Hope group) was founded for smokers and any hint of reform or crusade was met with bitter and often time’s violent opposition. The common agreement had seemed to be “We have given up alcohol, and that’s as far as any of us are willing to go, this is about alcohol not about tobacco”
The violence reached fevers pitch when not so many years ago Dudley a kinda sorter A.A. Guru crusaded to reform the Post Oak club of demon tobacco and make it a friendly breathing environment. Dudley was met with outrage and violent opposition. Someone set his car on fire in a blaze of heated retaliation thwarting his formidable expression of logic, courtesy, and common sense.
The arguments remain more than sound, to wit: You can’t smoke in the restaurants, movie theaters, or at church, if you have to smoke leave the room and go out side.
You don’t have to smoke, but I have to breathe, the rebuttal such as it was or is that the newcomer may need to smoke and if he can’t smoke he just might leave. (If he does leave alcohol will bring him back) I can’t share unless I smoke,( Have you tried) We were here first,(Isn’t that what the Indians told Columbus) if you don’t like it go somewhere else ( Is that Twelve Step work with the emphasis on the self satisfied )
There is nothing as unforgiving as an old road that has just been mended or a sinner who has just become a saint.
Winging my way home after being discharged from the army and leaving the country of Vietnam far behind, I was headed back to the world, the Big Apple and home. I was a militant dragon smoker and this was the day when smoking was permitted in jet air liners. I was nervously puffing away as I was anticipating a second chance at life, the stewardess excused herself and inquired of me that an older gentleman two rows back had a heart condition and was being distressed by my cigarette smoke. I glance over with a jaundiced eye and witnessed his distressed and his ghostly pale pallor. My response “if he doesn’t like it, tells him to get out and walk”.
The meeting was about to start and I had given out some recovery cards but I knew the most good I could do was in the meeting announcing RumRadio.org as an A.A. related announcement sharing and then the liberal dispensing of the recovery business cards. I met a black fellow who was also named Joseph and a non smoker, we hit it off immediately. I asked, did he ever get tired of correcting people who would call him Joe instead of Joseph? Yes he replied constantly. I told him the reason people wanted to call him Joe was because they liked him and it gave them a sense of a presumptive familiarity.
We sat at a little salt and pepper table at the back of the bus while the rest of the group sat at a large conference table the furthest we could get from the smoke but was still close enough to be a part of the meeting.
The first order of business was announcements; I made the RumRadio.org announcement and was immediately challenged as too the veracity of being related to A.A., I told them that we have the GSO stamp on the conference approved literature page and that seemed to suffice. The meeting was going to be a round robin (going around the table in order one to the next) I was far in the back and chances were slim that it would get to me and the acrid second hand smoke attack had not abated, gagging from time to time, I decided to hang in.
The shares were short and many passed, I had persevered and it was my turn. I told the group how impressed I was that the shares were very succinct brief and timely. That the group as a whole was either very humble or there was a significant lack of oxygen in the room. Growing up in the rooms of recovery I had learned that if you spoke more than three minutes it was all about you anyway.
After I had carried the message and my work if not my deed was done, the acrid tobacco attack seemed to have suddenly abated. I knew something just happen but could not put my finger on it, it was odd that all of sudden I got used to the environment, it was still funky but no longer threatening and invasive. I gave out a bunch of cards and was welcomed back as I left for cleaner breathing pastures.
When I do good, evil is present, for nothing grows without opposition.
That night upon retiring, it came to me, I was being attacked spiritually, once the good work of carrying the message was accomplished there was no reason of purpose to continue the attack. I had prevailed, (cough).
I believe some pain, and all discomfort is spiritual by nature, and that you can’t grow spiritually and be comfortable at the same time.
See you on the radio (smoke free)