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Year four had its ups and downs, just like life. I was getting further and further away from a drink and the vast majority of my imaginary friends were now becoming real. I was running pretty consistently, still going to church regularly and school was going well. I dated a few different girls. A few of them dated me.


I moved in with a friend from the program and we had an apartment that was just down the street from our meeting. My friend had been in and out of the program for a while.....but had put together a few years. He was divorced from his wife....but they shared custody of their young daughter. His daughter was everything to him.....he lit up like a Christmas tree every time someone asked about her.....and he spoiled her rotten.


I don’t know that outside of the rooms Mike and my paths would have ever crossed. We had different backgrounds....different interests....we were at different places in our lives. But the meeting room has a way of bringing people creates bonds between folks without regard to race, religion, financial status, education, drug of choice or place in life. Next time you’re out to dinner on a Friday night....look around the restaurant and find the table of ten that is full of people who look like they don’t belong together.........that’s the meeting after the meeting.


I remember one time that the meeting was going to vote on whether to add a 60 day chip....meaning if you went 60 days without drinking.... you got to pick up a chip. this particular got a chip at day 1, 30, 90, 6 month, 9 month and 1 year....and each year after. Mike was all for adding a 60 day chip. I made the case against it. Truth be told, I can’t even remember who won the vote. But I can see now, that he was right. if it helped 1 person stay sober in the last 16 years....than it was worth it. I don’t know if it was his age, having been married, having a child, his faith or his struggles.....but Mike had an insight into things that I did not have yet. I would eventually draw on that insight /strength later in sobriety.


Mike had a great sense of humor. As friends often do, Mike and I would joke around with each other....make fun of each other. Whenever someone would say or do something funny or questionable....Mike would always say....”Where is God in that?”.....kind of joking....a little serious. Example: Boy, look at that newcomer....she’s really hot and is wacked out crazy......I’m going to see if she wants to get coffee......Mike would respond by saying.....”Where is God in that?”


That year Mike decided to open his own landscaping company but was struggling to come up with a name & design..... he asked me to help. Over the next few days I came up with both. I was oddly.... pretty good at felt good and came easy to me.


Timing is everything.


At work, I was recently promoted out of the mailroom and became a premium analyst. Day to day I reviewed premium tapes from our clients to ensure they were charging the correct premiums. It was tedious work.....but moved me from the processing center to the corporate offices. On an odd stroke of luck.... an idea I had come up with had made its way to the head of HR. She called me into her office at about 4PM one day and asked me if I would present the idea to the Sr Management team the next morning. Well it was bound to happen sooner or later… this was it....this is when they were going to realize..... in spectacular fashion..... that I’m just a busboy from Three Dollar Café.


So....the next morning....wearing a borrowed suit that didn’t fit..... and using some really bad slides I made in Harvard Graphics....the stars aligned.....and for a moment.....the nerves subsided, the fear went away.....and for the next 10 minutes the words came out right....not like I rehearsed.....but right enough. The idea was approved on the spot. By the next day I reported to the head of Sales & Marketing. It was that quick.


Lucky for me the Sales & Marketing team was leaving the very next week for their annual winter strategy meeting in Yellowstone National Park. They invited me on the trip so that I would have a chance to meet everyone on the team. The invite list included all of the Sales team and some Sr. Corporate Execs....most of whom I had never met before.


I arrived at the airport for my first business trip....wearing the borrowed suit.... that still didn’t fit.... and pulling an old suitcase I found in the basement. Everyone from the Atlanta office flew on the same flight together into the airport in Bozeman, MT….. where we caught up with all the other sales folks from around the country. As I stood by all of the other sales folks – who were not dressed in suits by the way – waiting for the luggage to come off the carousel.....I had a thought....Man....I have made it.....those guys in the mailroom don’t have a clue how good I got it .....all my hard work is paying off now.....look at me.


And then it happened......I saw my suitcase appear from out behind the carousel curtain....there it suitcase...... completely open and completely empty. That can’t be mine....I thought, I hoped, I prayed......and then for the next 5 minutes all of my clothes soaking wet for some reason......were being spit out from behind the carousel curtain by one.....shirts were hooked the wheels of other people’s luggage.....long underwear was wrapped around people’s luggage handles.....a glove here.....a sock there. At first I pretended it wasn’t mine....but that wasn’t going to work long term. Shit. At some point, the Chairman of the Board handed me a cardboard box and began to help me collect my assortment of wet cold weather attire. At the hotel check-in counter, I stood in line....behind the entire Sales & Marketing team ..... and Sr Management.....holding my box of clothes. Now I had to carry the box from the bottom because it was leaking...... My box of clothes was leaking.


Oh boy....If the folks in the mailroom could have seen that. I can’t even imagine the jokes they would be telling. My roommate never let me live that one down. All I could say after his hours of relentless jokes was....”Where is God in all of that”.


My God has a great sense of humor.


I hope Mike is with God now.....I bet they sit around and laugh about that day.


Some alcoholics don’t make it.


To Mike - I miss you. Thanks for your friendship. I love you. RIP


Stay Tuned....or Don't

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