I had this iron rule. I would not hire anybody with a felony for a violent crime, and I would not hire an addict. And now guess what? Exactly! I hired a new helper for my workshop, and she is both. She is an addict, and she spent one year in prison for a violent crime.
My workroom is attached to our home. It’s just the dogs and me during the days and sometimes a neighbor or two -oh, and my customers. I need to feel safe, don’t want to invite TROUBLE into our home. I work with power tools. I don’t tolerate drugs or alcohol during work hours either. What you do in your private time is your business, but if you show up high or drunk -please go home.
It worked great for so many years. Only one guy stole from me, only one or two showed up stoned and thought I wouldn’t notice. Overall my rules seemed to work, I had it all figured out.
A few months ago I had to let my old helper go. Out of the blue, he had decided he wanted to get paid without working. We said “Goodbye, ” and I started looking for a replacement. If you ever want to know more about our society, look for a helper. It’s fun. Very frustrating but also highly entertaining.
Then a girl called and showed up. She was different. She wanted to work for an hour or two so she could see what I do, and I could see if she could do the job. What a surprise that was. Free labor! Yeah, Baby, I am all for it.
She worked with me that evening, and I liked her even more. She asked the right questions, she showed talent, and she loved what I do. We were the perfect match. Then, before I could even ask, she told me that she is an alcoholic, sober for 4 years.
“Anything else I need to know,” I asked, and she looked me straight in the eye.
“I have been incarcerated,” she said.
“What for?” I wanted to know, thinking it was for possession or maybe a DWI.
“Assault on a police officer,” she explained, and I didn’t say much.
What’s there to say, I didn’t have to ask any more questions. That was it, case closed. Something inside me thought otherwise. There was something different about her, I could feel it. Her personality and her work ethic made me hire her.
Many months have passed now. She is the best helper I have ever had. I have met her husband, her oldest son and her new baby boy. I consider her a friend by now.
How could such a sweet and beautiful woman become an addict? And why did she hit a police officer? I didn’t ask, knew she would talk when the time was right.
She was married before, happily married to a nice guy. They had a child, a nice home, life was good. Then they decided to have another child, and she got pregnant. It was a girl. The baby lived for 4 days. After that, they tried again, and the baby girl was stillborn.
She said the pain was too much, she started drinking. “Whiskey is my poison,” she admits when you ask her. “I was a functioning alcoholic for a while, then I needed more and more; started to drink first thing in the morning. I lost control over my life, nothing mattered anymore.” The marriage couldn’t take it, he filed for divorce, and she lost custody of her son. “Another reason to drink more,” she explains. “I was so angry all the time, I couldn’t bear the pain.”
It doesn’t take much to understand.
One night a police officer stopped her when she was on her way home. She was drunk, argued with him, and it went from there. She says she jumped him, but can’t really remember what happened.
She spent one year in prison. “All I could think of was the bottle,” she confessed. “I wanted to get out, and I wanted to drink. I couldn’t wait to taste alcohol again.”
She got out, and that day something clicked. She attended a meeting for alcoholics and is sober every since. She got here life back in order.
She fell in love again and is happily married to a drug addict who is clean since many years. They waited 2 years before they got married. She got her son back, and they just had another baby boy.
She still goes to meetings and talks to her her sponsor on a regular base, just started sponsoring others in need as well.
“Hitting that cop was the best think I ever did,” she says today. “I would have drunken myself to death, would have been found dead in a ditch.” She didn’t want to deal with the death of her babies, she fled reality, and I don’t blame her.
She carries deeply about other people, I love that most about her. She knows where our homeless sleep and she stops by there on her way home. I live here since years, I didn’t know that they lived behind that abandoned warehouse.
“Don’t give them money,” she taught me, “They need blankets and food, females need hygiene products.” She always has something sweet in her car that she can hand out. Such an easy thing to figure out, why didn’t I?
She knows many by name and gives people her number. “If you want out and stop drinking, call me,” she says, and some of them do.
Reality is not always pleasant. For some, it’s a never-ending nightmare. People have stories. Maybe we should take more time and listen.