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From the September 2013 magazine.

September 2013: To Those We Serve

To help get Big Books into a prison, she discovered a creative use of the Ninth Tradition

A fellow AA and I were at a state prison to carry the message to the inmates. Our meeting hadn’t started yet, and the women were just arriving. We were short Big Books; I had brought only a few, and the prison had relocated their own small supply someplace inaccessible. A few of the women had their own. To my question, “Do you have a Big Book?” one of the women said, “No, I ordered one but it didn’t come yet.” Knowing the prison did not take orders for Big Books, I was surprised by her answer and asked from whom she ordered the book. Her response was from one of the AAs who bring in meetings. I bristled a little: placing book orders with an AA? No such thing. We’re not organized at that level. As Tradition Nine notes, AA as a whole ought never be organized.

I attempted to explain to her that AA prison volunteers have no mechanism to accept individual book orders. But my explanation didn’t make sense even to me, so I stopped. In my own ears, I sounded condescending and preachy. (“Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop …”) And anyway, the AA member who the attendee was referring to would undoubtedly bring the book next time (that volunteer’s dedication to our AA prisoners is second to none).

-- Karen F.

Los Alamos, New Mexico

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