One Wednesday afternoon, Central Office called our friendly, comfortable San Fernando Group meeting place to say a guy in a nearby neighborhood had asked for help. “Could anyone there go see him?” they asked. “Maybe bring him a Big Book, take him to a meeting?” I said, “Sure. We’ll handle it.”
Looking around the room I asked, “Anybody want to go on a Twelfth Step call with me?” A fellow we called Cowboy Glenn answered, “Yeah, I’ll go with ya.”
Glenn was a wrangler. He worked with horses for local ranches and movie studios. He was a tall, thin, happy guy dressed in faded jeans and a straw Stetson hat. He also usually had a bit of alfalfa stuck to him here and there. In those days, I used to wear bell-bottom jeans, a flowered cowboy shirt with the sleeves cut off and a black Stetson hat with a rattlesnake band. (There’s a reason for this fashion report.)
As we pulled up to the man’s address in my pickup truck, I realized this was a very upscale neighborhood and we looked like we had just rolled in off the prairie. I chuckled to Glenn, “He’s gonna think they sent the posse after him.” We both had a good laugh but went up and knocked on the door.
A lady answered the door and we introduced ourselves. She said her husband Jim was expecting us and was waiting in the living room. The living room was a large room framed in stone and hardwood paneling, furnished in a sort of western motif. In fact, the chairs and sofa were leather-upholstered units made of steer horns. Above the massive fireplace hung a large oil painting of John Wayne. On the opposite wall hung a similar painting of Patsy Cline.
Glenn and I smiled at each other as our drunken host said a big “Howdy” with his grin. We sat down with our new friend and began to tell him our stories.
We told him of our drinking, how we hit bottom, our skepticism at the spiritual program of recovery, our resistance to God, and the joy we found in our eventual surrender to a Higher Power and the Twelve Steps. We gave him a Big Book and showed him how we found the program in it. We had brought him a directory of the local meetings and gave him our phone numbers. We told Jim to call any time and invited him to a meeting that night. He declined our offer of a ride but said he might see us at the meeting later.
Jim said other AAs had come to visit him in the past but we were the first ones who ever made sense to him. The other guys, it seems, tried to tell him what to do, where to go and how to pray. Yeah, maybe. But I suspect the other guys did and said pretty much what Glenn and I had done and said. The Book is clear on how we approach the new man. The real difference was probably the hats and jeans. We might have laughed a little more than the previous visitors. If we did, it was because we realized we were the punch line of God’s joke that day.
I wish I could say we saw Jim at meetings after that visit, but we didn’t. Never saw him again. Glenn and I did what we’re appointed to do without regard to the outcome. We delivered the message. In fact, maybe we weren’t even in the delivery business that day. Maybe the message was for us.
The message for Glenn and me that Wednesday was: Don’t bother to question God’s judgment. He always seems to know what he’s doing. When you feel like you’re in the wrong posse knocking on the mansion door … knock anyway. God may have a big “Howdy” for you.
Doug R., Tujunga, Calif.