Sunday, April 19, 2009

More flexibility...


So, the storm that didn't wreak the major havoc that was predicted in our part of the state caused the meeting that I was supposed to be at get canceled and, when I showed up at another workshop instead, I was asked to stand in and do a pitch about Public Information in AA for someone who couldn't get here from Steamboat due to the storm.

It reminded me of my 1st stint in PI service. Shortly after I was elected a GSR (about 20++ years ago), I was appointed our district's PI chair. As with most (every?) job I've had in AA, I immediately set about making plans to grow the position into the most important in the district - maybe the world. I fancied getting the word out about AA to every nook and cranny of our village. I envisioned great projects of outreach with literature, speaking engagements, well, you get the idea - my ego was completely run amok.

One of the few projects that did come my way that I in fact followed through with was that our county had a middle school that was having a health fair and they offered a AA a table to set up and offer our information. I borrowed a VCR and got the new GSO PI tape titled (I think) Too Young, bought a bunch of brochures and proceeded to set up a table in the gym with the local hospitals, clinics, etc.

I don''t know what exactly I was expecting but it was for middle schoolers for Pete's sake - they had about as much interest in learning to stop drinking as they wanted to learn about, say, how to study harder so that they could grow up to be great important people. Most of the kids were polite, but had no interest at all in the old dude standing behind (or in front of) the table with the AA sign. The only thing on the table that anyone took was the comic book looking brochures from GSO - some of them were returned once they realized what they were dealing with.

An aside - what is now called "middle school" was a horrible time for me personally - I hear some people - even sometimes in AA meetings - speak with fondness of their youth. This is definitely not my experience. When I think of my time from 10-14, I think of middle school as a time of fear, confusion, inadequacy (hell 10-33 but it was worst 10-14), where I wouldn't go back to that time on a bet - I'd rather be dead than live in the space my head was in then...

So, here I was on an AA - PI gig with hordes of kids I really didn't even want to relate to and who didn't want to have anything to do with me. Who all seemed repelled at the idea of even wanting to talk about thinking about drinking...

...except for one kid...

I saw this kid the first time as he was working down the tables on my side of the gym - he was clearly aware of the AA sign and looked up at me a few times only to quickly look away. As he reached my table, it was as if he was repelled and darted out the door. I saw him again a few minutes later working back from the other direction in the gym against the flow of traffic - again, he reached the corner of my table and darted out the room...

The period cycled and the day continued. I watched my own video several more times and then I saw the same kid catercorner across the gym. He started coming toward me until I looked up and looked at him and he changed direction and left. By now, he had my curiosity in that this must have been a kid with a problem or he had a friend with a problem - it was just getting weird.

I saw him from the other corner start toward me but this time, I caught his eye, pointed at him and motioned him over. As he shakily made his way to the table, I thought I was steeled for anything. He got about 3 feet away from the table and blurted out in one breath "...I want you to know that tomorrow morning, my dad will celebrate 8 years of sobriety in AA and I'm really proud of him..." He just wanted to thank AA.

Turned out to be one of my best AA service gigs ever...

I love AA

Ed