So the day came to meet the “Big” Chief. I figured this would be much like all the other meetings with all the other chiefs. In a conference room with a big table and at least half a dozen white shirts and gold badges. Meetings with me were always a team sport, TimO on one team and then a real team.
I don’t think the other team was assembled because they feared it would get violent or crazy in some way. I think they all knew I was a clever drunk, as most alcoholics are and none of them trusted taking me on one on one. I don’t say this to brag, it just means that an organization, a bureaucracy like the fire department can grow quickly in this day and age.
So the best and most qualified person isn’t always in an important position. Many key administrative jobs are back filled with the guy that needs to be “parked”. That guy that has been injured, the guy in “job jail”, or as was the case with our HR director the guy who just couldn’t do the “job” anymore.
He was obese and got winded waddling from the vending machines to the snack table in the lounge. I’m not sure if he was educated beyond the one room school house he attended somewhere in the Deep South, but I did know I could run circles around the guy.
I know I sound bitter here and that is because I am when it comes to this bumbling troll. So I’ll give an example before I move on. Many times it is customary for an alcoholic in trouble to be required to attend 90 AA meetings in 90 days, and that is the language used.
“You will attend 90 meetings in 90 days TimO.” I hated when he called me TimO, said Billy-Bob our HR director. I attended 90 meetings in like 45 days and then took a few days off here and there when I felt like it.
He had issued me no kind of official form for record keeping as I had seen in countless meetings. No he just said 90 in 90. I knew if I felt like it I could have pushed that fact but didn’t, so I kept a little note pad for attendance purposes.
When I turned it in to him, he counted the days up with a number two pencil, out loud. I watched in amazement as he lost track and started over not once, but three times. When he was done he tossed my note pad across the table at me.
“We seem to have a problem here TimO.” His face reeked of arrogance and superiority as he pushed his bulk back from the table to regain the breath that the conference table had taken from him.
“You got a couple of days here where you didn’t go to a meeting.” He looked like an out of work clean shaven Santa checking his naughty or nice list and had stumbled across his first naughty.
“Yeah.” I said.
“Well the agreement states you will attend 90 meetings in 90 days, and at that you have failed.” He was attempting to use his “legal” vocabulary.
No I didn’t, I went to 90 meetings in my first 45 days and went to over a hundred meetings Billy.” I didn’t call him captain on purpose.
“That’s Captain Smith not Billy, and you missed a few days where you didn’t go to any meetings. That is a problem TimO and puts your job in my hands.”
The irony of correcting me on calling him Billy and he calling me TimO was wasted on this dolt and I let it pass.
“Cap there is nothing that says one meeting per day for 90 consecutive days. All you said was 90 in 90. I did that. I did more than that.” His smile faded as he considered what I said.
“It was implied that you would go to a meeting every day, and you didn’t.”
“I fulfilled the requirement Cap, 90 in 90 I did that, there is nothing written down anywhere on this. You didn’t even give me a form or some sort of document to even keep a record; I keep that record for my own protection and I would like it back, I’ll give you a copy of it.”
“Well you make me that copy and you can go now, I’ll get back to you with my decision on this.”
I was informed a few days later by my lieutenant as he handed me an official record keeping document (newly created complete with misspelled words) that I was going to have to go to 90 more meetings one per day for 90 days consecutively, and that I could go while on duty.
Freddy was and is still a great lieutenant; he pulled me into his office to go over the form and the requirements.
“TimO you know I love you man and I know what you are going through here, I’ve sat in more meetings with Billy-Bob than I ever wanted to because of this. So listen to me here okay?”
“Yeah sure boss.” Freddy turned serious a rare occurrence. It spooked me.
“Billy is mad, you made him look bad with the chief and he wants your ass now more than ever. Don’t mess around here. I can’t and more importantly I won’t cover your ass on this. Do it, and do it right. Am I clear?” His face was a mix of pain and pity, I had gone as far as I could here, and the last thing I wanted to do was be an even bigger problem for this man I respected so much.
“You got it Lou.”
“Get out of my office.” He spun toward his computer.
We alcoholics can push the ones that love us to the edge with ease. I was fond of the idea that I wasn’t hurting anybody else with my drinking. We alcoholics like that saying; it helps us drink without worry. But it is the biggest lie we tell ourselves.
Sorry again, it does say rants and raves at the top of the page and this was a rant I didn’t see coming. Better talk to my sponsor about it. I’ll tell you about the Big Chief tomorrow.