“Keeping The Doctor Away”

“Keeping The Doctor Away” @JosephJohnFull4 https://medium.com/@joefingas/keeping-the-doctor-away-58a994b230ca


Personalities Before Principles

The meeting was almost over when I pulled into the clubhouse parking lot. I stopped, turned off the engine and stayed in my Mescalade.  

I watched as the first trickle of folks left the building. Then, I got out of my vehicle and made a bee line to the coffee urn.

He was still seated at the end of the table closest to the refreshment counter. Surrounded by more than a few newcomers, he was gregarious and generous with his opinions.

He offered his hand, the one covered with a black medical brace. I shook it and said, “Good to see ya.”

I poured a cup, grabbed a box of popcorn, walked out the door and took a seat on the front porch. 

I placed my coffee and popcorn on the railing next to me. Then I pulled my phone from my pocket. 

I was scrolling through my messages when he walked past me. He tapped the deck with his cane. 

When I looked up at him, he said, “You’re strange.” 

When my eyes went back to the screen, he repeated, “You’re strange. You walk in late. You’ve always got your nose deep into that phone. I can’t figure you out. Can’t figure you out.”

I shrugged and said, “It’s not your job.”

“My job?”

“To figure me out. Not your job.”

“But why?”

“Why not?”

He shook his head and scuffled through the gravel to his car. 

I was responding to an e-mail when he shouted, “Why are you wasting your life on that goddamn phone?”

I shouted back, “Man, go home and take your medicine. You’ll feel better.”

“You judging me coz I’m using medical marijuana?”

“I don’t care about marijuana.”

“It’s pain management. It works for me.”

“And my phone works for me. The same fuckin’ way. It’s my medicine. My pain management.”

His final words before he crawled into his car were, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

I stared at my phone another five minutes. 

I stood and walked into the clubhouse for another cup of coffee. 

When I returned to the porch, he and his car were gone.


My Headache

My skull was pounding earlier. The pain in the temple pulsing straight to my gut. It got so bad I thought I was going to have pull over and loose last night’s spaghetti.

Instead, I opened the window and took a deep breath. Everything started to settle after that. 

I bought breakfast. Picked up my grandson and took him to school. Then, I went to the meeting.

The topic was character defects and their removal. That’s when I thought, ” I could have a field day writing about this in my reflections journal.” 

Then I thought, “But I’d have to do my research. Cut and paste quotes to my liking. Become a hyperbolic, curmodgeonly parody of my worst self.”


I was worn out just listening to other people work their program.

I figured good ole not drinking complacency was enough for me this particular day at a time.

Still, as I left the meeting room, I felt like something was missing. 

And it took another fifteen minutes for me to figure out what I had left in the Alano Clubhouse, on the vacant seat next to me…

That’s A Lotta One Day At A Times 

I saw him three months ago and I thought, “No way he’s gonna make it back.”

The only guy I knew who looked worse than my buddy was my brother just before he died. 

But, here he was, my sad, sick amigo. At the salad bar. Taking nourishment. 

“Off of everything ‘cept suboxone,” he said. “The doctor’s makin’ me take it.”

He looked good. Thin but not ravaged. There was color to his face and, when he spoke, his words were clear and quick. He looked and sounded like he did when he was clean.

We finished lunch and met up again at the clubhouse. We sat in on the meeting.

I had to leave early but, before I did, I shook his hand and said, “see you soon.”

When I was walking to my car, a mutial friend stopped me and said, “It’s so good to see him here.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Is he still on that suboxone crap?”

“I don’t know.”

“And, his poor mother, spent a fortune on him. Such an enabler.”

“Yeah, thank God.”

“Thank God?”

“Thank God she’s such an enabler. Forty years he’s been tryin to get or stay clean. And, he had twelve years once. Ten years another time. You wouldn’t have him around to talk about if she hadn’t been willing to go into hock to save her boy one more time.”

“I didn’t mean any…”

“I know. I know. He’s still in the meeting. Go hug his neck before he gets away.”

I got into my car and drove to a gas station. I handed the clerk a twenty and said, “Ten bucks on nine.”

I was pumping fuel into my car when this thought spit from my brain, “Forty years. Forty fuckin’ years.”

He Won’t Be Done Till He’s Finished 

He lets nothing go.

Obsessed with the dog a woman brings to meetings. 

He told me, “She gets away with this shit because she’s cute.”

“The dog?”

“No, the dog’s owner,” he explains. “She’s a cute blonde and all the guys. All of the predators. They co-sign everything she does because they want to get into her pants.”

I don’t want to waste any more time listening to his rant so I say, “I’ve gotta run. God speed as you go forth to slay the predators.”

He says, “Smart ass. But, you’re right, I’m not done.”

July 28

REFLECTIONS OF A SOBER CHICKEN THIEF- published by Nothing Changes Press

”  “-

Thought For The Day: I’ve got no time for quotes today. No time. I was called to speak today. Not called by God…by another person at the meeting. The topic was the Fourth Step. I don’t remember what I said but I don’t think it had much to do with the Fourth Step.

Reflection For The Day: At least three people walked out of the room during my share. Sons of bitches.

Prayer: Please keep their asses in their chairs till I’m done. Just coz I don’t know what I’m talkin bout doesn’t mean it isn’t divinely inspired.

The Warning (*true story 1974)

He said he was a biker but the only motorcycle he owned was the chopped Harley tattooed across his back. He showed it off whenever possible. He called it “a turn on for the bitches.” 

Another turn on was the Bowie Black Handled knife he carried on his belt. He liked to wave it around when he was standing guard over the freshly waxed tiles of the Phone Company’s employee lounge. He’d raise the 9 and 1 half inch blade eye level and tell the snooty phone operators to “stay the fuck off the floor.” When I told him to stop scaring the girls, he said, “What’s the matter, boss, jealous?”

He was an asshole. An asshole who was always bitchin’about somethin’. He’d start bitchin’ the minute he walked into the Bullseye Janitorial Service work yard. He’d bitch about having to punch the Bullseye time clock. He’d bitch about having to load mops, buckets and buffer into the Bullseye number two wax crew van. And, all night long, he’d bitch about having to do grunt work. He’d bitch about the work when, to tell the truth, he did little to no work.He’d help load and unload the van and he’d make sure no women walked on wet floors. But that was it. He’d do nothing else. Nothing else but bitch. He was always bitchin’ about somethin’.

To tell the truth, I was okay with his “no work” ethic. I had quit boozin’ for the umpteenth time and, when I was dryin’ out, I had no use for gung-ho helpers. In the middle of my terrors, I’d rather work alone.

But my boss said, “A crew leader needs a crew. He’s your crew.”

The biker who wasn’t a biker bitchin’ about having to do work he never did was my crew. My crew of one, armed with one thousand one complaints, met me at Bullseye headquarters every workday afternoon. We’d meet, climb into wax crew van number two and ride off to do our route.

At every stop, I did the working…and he did the talking. I never stopped working and he never stopped talking. He never stopped bitchin’. His bitchin’ was becoming a problem. My problem.

He was a lot like the folks who took up all the time at the meetings. The “still suffering.” They took up all the time coz, unlike the folks who”had recovery,” their lives sucked. And they wanted everyone in the meeting room to know the complete  who, what, where, when and why of their pathetic existance. Whenever they could, they’d take up all the time at meetings venting, crying and bitchin’. 

And they were always bitchin’about somethin’.

To tell the truth, the only difference between my crew of one and the most miserable  members occupying”the rooms” was my crew of one continued to drink heavily and without apology. 

I could smell it on him when he’d show up for work and, the first time he pissed me off was when he demanded I stop at a grocery so he could “pick up a six pack for lunch.”

“No fuckin’ way,” I said. “No drinkin’ on the job.”

He pissed me off coz he could get away with drinking. He was  lazy, a creep, a liar, and he  possessed no redeeming qualities but he was still able to drink…and that pissed me off.

And that’s why I let him have it…both barrels and a grenade.

And I guess that’s why, after three days of me taking my sobriety out on him, my no count crew of one failed to show for work.

My boss said, “You’re on you’re own tonight. Take it easy. You’re doing the work of two men.”

I was finished my route two hours earlier than usual. I was happy. My biker who wasn’t a biker was gone. I was alone. I unloaded the van and put away all supplies and clocked out.

An old van that wasn’t a work van was parked in the work yard. There was a pasty faced, long haired man sitting in the driver’s seat. He was the stoner who, at times, gave my former crew of one a ride to work. He stared out his window at me for a couple of seconds then waved me over.

He rolled his window down and coughed. He stopped coughing and said, “I don’t know if I should be sayin’ this. Seein’ how he’s my friend and all.”

“Who’s your friend?’

“You know. Vick.”


“The dude who works with you.”

“His name’s Vick?”

“That’s the dude. My friend. Anyway, I don’t know if I should be sayin’ this…”

“You said that already.”

“Oh, yeah, well, anyway, I think you ought to know Vick’s got plans to kill you.”

I laughed and said, “You’re ripped.”

“Believe what you will. But, he’s been talkin’ all last night and today. Eatin’ speed and plannin’ your death.

He’s comin’ back to work tomorrow and he’s gonna beg your forgiveness. Then, he’s gonna work his ass off, man. And, then, he’s gonna walk home with you coz he knows you pass Big Top Bar and Liquor. That’s when this whore is gonna come outta the donut shop next door, serve Vick a big dish of tongue and say, ‘Gotta a dime bag and another girl for your friend. Let’s party.’

Vick figures you’ll say yes, if not to the smoke, to the whore and they’ll take you to a flop upstairs over the bar and that other sweet piece will be there and, once you start gettin’ it on, he’ll get behind you and, with that blade of his, cut your throat and stab you a hundred times at least coz he’s really pissed, man, pissed at you.

Then, he and his whores are gonna take your body parts out to the high dessert where they’ll bury them deep so no one will find you. Pretty smooth, huh?”

“Pretty smooth,” I said. “Thanks for the warning.”

I wasn’t scared. Weed talk. Crank riffin’.. Wasn’t gonna happen. I was tired so I went home and slept the sleep of a dried out wino wanting to drink.

The next day, I went to a meeting. Then, I went to work. Vick was standing by number two van when I walked into the yard. The van was loaded and ready to go and, that night, Vick worked his ass off.

Everything happened that night exactly the way Vick’s stoner friend said it would happen. Everything except the part that had me going upstairs and getting hacked to death. That didn’t happen coz, by the time that donut shop whore’s tongue was leaving Vick’s mouth, I was across the busy Main Street haulin’ ass for home.

* Business names changed coz I like my names for them better