Six Years Sober – 30 May 2014

Posted: May 31, 2014 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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wheel

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30 May 2014

“Good morning, Chuck. It’s a beautiful day.”

“Hi Dennis. It’s a great day. I can’t figure why Joy isn’t down here. This is the second day in a row that she’s missed. I know she has a drinking problem and she has her monthly check, but that shouldn’t make a difference. I used to be in that situation, drinking and smoking a pack a day but, as long as the weather was good, I never missed a morning here. I was even complimented. One of my regulars was talking to a panhandler up the block. She asked, ‘Do you know Chuck?’ He said, ‘Yes he’s a great guy, always smiling, punctual. Did you know that he quit smoking and drinking?’ She said, ‘I had no idea that he smoked or drank. He’s always clean-shaven and polite. I never would have thought he had a drinking problem.’ It’s six years tomorrow,  that I had my heart surgery. That’s when I quit smoking and drinking.

“It was the same when I had a regular job. I worked in a tavern. At the first of my shift, I’d put aside some money for two jugs of draft and a meal. I remember one time I was serving this table of six. I’d overheard that they were attending or competing in the dragon boat races. One of them, a big guy, asked me if I had a cigarette. I handed him one. He said, ‘You’ve just handed me a native cigarette. I’m an off duty police officer from North Bay. He pulled out his badge. I’m sure you know that possession of these is illegal. I’m going to have to charge you. I’m also a judge, so I’ll sentence you right now. You’re ordered to sit at our table and have a drink and a meal with us.’

“My boss nodded his head, so I spent the rest of the evening at their table. I had a great time. I can’t remember much of it. I have no idea how I got home. Next morning I was up at my usual time, showered and shaved. I made it for my regular shift.  I asked one of my buddies if I’d done anything wrong. They said, ‘No, you were the life of the party, telling  jokes, keeping everyone entertained. I’ve never seen such a cheerful drunk. Do you know what that guy’s bill came to at the end of the night?’ I said, ‘ have no idea.’ He said, ‘Fifteen hundred bucks. We’ll split the tip.’

I said, “I checked on the computer for the electric car you want to buy. It looks great.”

“I’ll have to see. When this chair packs in, perhaps they’ll give me some money towards a new one. I’ll have to check that with my worker. What it would represent to me is freedom.  Now, I can take the wheelchair taxi, but I have to be at a certain place at a certain time. I never know when they’re going to arrive. Coming home could take hours. Sometimes they have half a dozen people they have to drive home before me. That’s no way to live. Someway or another I’m going to get that car.”

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Comments
  1. Sonnische says:

    Congrats to Chuck on his 6 years! And I really hope he gets that little car. Mobility is so important to our well being and independence. And Dennis, I appreciate your writing about your street friends. I live in New York and see homeless and panhandlers daily, more now than ever. Your writing gives me insight into the human beings behind the cardboard signs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Planting Potatoes says:

    I was once homeless and reading reading your posts reminds of how many good, solid friends I really had when I thought I had nothing…..

    Like

  3. What a great story of recovery and determination. Love it!

    Like

  4. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    A terrific blog that takes us behind the perceptions of those who are homeless. As we bustle by we rarely stop to hear the story.

    Like

  5. ravenjets says:

    Six years of sobriety is a very big deal. Congratulations, Chuck. And, Dennis, thank you for this gentle reminder of our shared humanity. I so enjoy your posts. JET

    Like

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