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"There's Nothing the Matter with Me!"
G., New Jersey.
(p. 499 in 2nd edition.)
the man said as he hocked his shoes for the price
of two bottles of Sneaky Pete. He drank bayzo, canned
heat, and shoe polish. He did a phony routine in
A.A. for a while. And then he got hold of the real
Bill got sober in
He thought that in
his business, the furniture business, you had to drink.
You had to drink to celebrate a sale, to drown your
sorrows if there isn't a sale.
First he drank only
to celebrate or if he was depressed. Then he began
drinking all the time. He needed no excuse. This was
during Prohibition so he carried a flask.
Little by little he
developed a persecution complex: his business associates
said he drank too much, his wife expected him to bring
home money on payday; the golf club asked him to resign
for not paying his tabs.
He tried a geographic
cure. He sold his business, went to Seattle, by way
of San Diego, and went into business there and in
twenty months was bankrupt. It took him nine months
to get back to New Jersey.
Things went from bad
to worse and one day he sold his shoes for 75 cents
and bought two bottles of Sneaky Pete and a pair of
"canvas relievers" (presumably cheap canvas slippers)
to wear on his feet.
The Salvation Army
gave him a bed and put him to work for ninety-five
cents a week and his room and board. Soon they were
paying him $5 a week. "No drunk can stand prosperity,"
he wrote, and he got drunk and was out on the street
again. But he had a pair of shoes and a gabardine
suit much too large for him. He slept under the bridge
and drank "bayzo," (a product unknown to the author),
canned heat, Sneaky Pete, shoe polish, anything that
had alcoholic in it. He had no sense of responsibility,
no moral code, no sense of ethics - nothing.
One day he ran into
his wife who took pity on him. She took him to a hospital
where the doctor suggested he try A.A. He told his
wife A.A. didn't allow women at the meetings, and
that they had alcohol there to test them. When he
came home smelling of alcohol, he would tell her he
had been "testing." When he finally came home dead
drunk he said to her "Madam, they put me to the test,
and I have failed!"
He called the clubhouse
and he and his wife went there. The women took his
wife aside and explained A.A. to her, a different
version from what he had told her.
At the end of three
months they asked him to speak. All he could say was
"I'm glad to be here." He sat down to tremendous applause.
Soon he learned that
A.A. did not need him, but that he needed A.A. That
gave him the beginnings of a little humility. He had
divorced himself from the Church when he was twenty-one.
But he talked to "Father McNulty" who told him not
to worry "you'll develop an awareness of God."
He did. He began to
see God in nature and in people. He would meet someone
he knew and the first thing that entered his mind
was "What is there good about that guy that I know?"
Big people, he said, discuss ideals, average people
discuss things, and little people - they just talk
about other people. And you realize that if you put
this all together, you get a little humility, a little
tolerance, a little honesty, a little sincerity, and
a little prayer - and a lot of A.A.