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March 1988

Two Feet Off the Ground

These reassuring words have started many a desperate alcoholic on the road to recovery--or so it is hoped. What follows is the shared experience of eleven AA members who have been on the telephone "firing line."

I had the good fortune to be a volunteer at the San Jose central office. I worked two and a half week answering the telephones. While many of the calls were routine--members asking about the time and place of a certain meeting, etc.--other calls were opportunities to be Of help to a suffering alcoholic. Many a time after my shift I left the office feeling two feet off the ground.

Every so often a wet one would wander into the office, and it was indeed a sight to behold. Everybody knocked themselves out to be of service to our guest. On one occasion I made a young man a cup of coffee that nearly killed him. Thinking it was instant coffee, I shoveled regular coffee grounds into a cup of hot water, stirred it up and handed it to him. The young man was too polite to say anything about it, but when I left the room for a moment one of the other volunteers relieved him of his cup and made a new one.

One lady called claiming that she was a former AA member and an alcoholism counselor. In the course of our talk I suggested a few things to her, including the fact that AA did not seem to work very well unless and until one quit drinking. She became very irate and informed me that I talked "like a linebacker." Since I was sixty-seven years old at the time and only 5 '7", I took that as a compliment.

I can honestly say that for every ounce of effort I have put into AA, I have gotten at least a ton of reward. To newcomers and not-so-newcomers, I can only say, "Try it, you'll like it."

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