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  • That summer was all about working my ass off, keeping my nose firmly planted to the grindstone, and trying to find some daylight, financially. At that point in my journey, I was really not cut out to be a boss. Hell, my own life was such a shambles and I knew it, I was still extremely uncomfortable in my own skin, and my self-confidence was in the toilet. But, I knew how to work. Whatever I lacked in the leadership skills and management know-how department in the lumberyard and warehouse, I tried to make up for through just sheer ball-busting grit and determination. This eventually won folks over, and the guys eventually fell in line and got in there with me, and we got the job done. The company leadership wanted me to be more of a hard-assed manager, convinced that what these assholes needed was someone to crack the whip, and were always berating me for not being tougher on them, but I knew I was getting the job done, and knew that wasn’t me. I just “yeah-yeah”-ed them whenever they’d call me in to lecture me on my lack of leadership skills, and went back out into the warehouse and yard, and did things the only way I knew how. If they wanted a more polished manager, they could send me to training, or shut the f*** up, already. They were too cheap to do that, so they were stuck with me as I was. I didn’t give a crap. I had bills to pay, and this was how I was paying them. I surely wasn't bucking for a damn career as a Windowizards corporate guy!

    It was a lonely time. I had about a 30 minute drive each way on the Pennsylvania Turnpike – the store sat in the shadow of the Turnpike bridge that crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey. I usually worked 6 days a week, 10 hours a day, so there wasn’t much time left for other craziness. There hadn’t been any time for relationships over the previous year and a half – I’d never really even thought about it much, I was just in a full workaholic mode most of that time. I picked a girl up hitchhiking on the way home one Saturday afternoon, and we wound up having a little fling that wasn’t very involved at all, over the next several weeks. It brought into sharp focus, for me, just how empty and lonely I had become. But, I didn’t dwell on that, just kind of noted it. It wasn’t a big deal to me. I was feeling good to be working, having some level of stability, and letting the program take care of itself.
  • I was hearing about some issues that were flaring up surrounding the publishing of the book, and I couldn’t have cared less about any of that. I guess I should have, as I was still technically the Vice Chairperson of the World Literature Committee, but I pretty much focused my energies and efforts in that role on the task that had been assigned to me, putting together the History of N.A. I’d surrendered on finishing my thesis for Lesley College, the one on the History of Addiction and Recovery – I just didn’t have time for any of that. That was something I committed to when I was on that “high” from the Stories Conference, and I might as well have been tripping my ass off at the time – I was nowhere near reality, then. I did not have the time nor werewithal to pursue that whole course of study I’d laid out for myself. I just let that one crash and burn on the same heap of failure so many of my high-flung dreams and grand illusions had crashed and burned onto. It had plenty of company, there!

    For the History of N.A., I had sent out a call for input to groups around the country, through the service Structure, and it was beginning to trickle in. Prior to 1980, N.A. hadn’t really existed in too many places outside of California. The story I really wanted to bring to the surface was how it got a foothold in the few places it had been, like Philadelphia, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Georgia, and how it survived and eventually flourished there. There were also some wild tales about biker wars out in California, associations with, and then separations from, Synanon when that got big out there, and back to how it sprung out of its origins in AA. The whole story fascinated me, and I wanted to tell that tale. So, in my evenings and 1 day weekends, after going to a meeting, I would work on that story.
  • My friend Bill from Allentown invited me to come up there to talk about the history project at a weekend long “Addithon” he was holding up there. Bill had been a biker - a real loner type, about as quiet a guy as you’d ever want to meet. He now worked the steel mills in Bethlehem, Pa. When I’d first met him, he’d had trouble stringing together entire sentences – he spoke in a herky-jerky fashion, but he had a fire in his eyes, and a sense of wonder, that was quite contagious. He had just started showing up at our Friday midnight meetings at Pebble Hill Church up in Doylestown the previous summer, all the way down from Allentown on his bike. There were no N.A. meetings up his way. He was just like this lone wolf sitting in the back, not saying much at all, but taking it all in, absorbing the message, for what it was. He would take that message back up to his hometown, and in a mere year’s time, that quiet, lonely biker-turned-steelworker who could barely spit out his name, had N.A. growing and flourishing in “The Little Apple”, as he always referred to Allentown.

    I was just planning to drive up Friday night to do my workshop, then come back home, as I had to work on Saturday, as always. However, being up there, and seeing all the activity, all the folks that came to that weekend conference, just amazed at how much had grown up out of nothing there in such a short time, and kind of overwhelmed by it all, I decided I’d go back up Saturday after work. I didn’t blow off the job this time, I just blew off the girl I’d been seeing. We usually had a little Saturday afternoon rendezvous, but I was feeling the excitement of what I’d seen up there in the Little Apple, and I just couldn’t take the loneliness of that empty affair any longer. So, I set sail for Allentown once again after a hard day in the lumber yard and warehouse.

    One of the featured speakers at the meeting that evening was a girl from Pittsburgh who I’d never seen before. Her name was Vicky. I found myself completely taken by her as I listened to her tell her story. There was just something about her that was different, and by the time she was finished speaking, I was completely infatuated with everything about her. She was about my age, but everything about her told me she was in a whole other class. The way she moved, the way she laughed, the things she didn’t say – I was completely smitten. This hadn’t happened to me in a long time. Bill introduced me to her after the meeting, and I was so tongue-tied and embarassed, I barely got out my name and a mumbled “great story”. I just put her into a category of one I could just forget about. Way out of my league, this one.

    But, I couldn’t stop thinking about her after that. She had really struck something deep inside, and I knew there was nothing I could do about it. I went back down to Bucks County, back to the warehouse, lumberyard, and my lonely existence, going to meetings and writing the History of N.A. I stopped the empty affair with the girl I’d picked up hitchhiking. I just couldn’t take the emptiness that revealed to me in that area of my life. I’d rather be alone and not have to think about it.
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