Adventures in Sobriety
Apr 05, 2012
A couple of days ago, I had driven my daughter to an appointment in an area of LA that isn’t the greatest—not the kind of neighborhood you want to be in at night. Her appointment was from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., so it was almost night time. It seems that I fell asleep in my car with it running. I had left it on for the heat, and was reading while I waited for her. I was awakened by my car making a strange sound, and then dying.
My first thought is that I had run down the little gas I had—I was planning on filling up the tank right after her appointment. I tried to text her to tell her that I was leaving the car and walking to the gas station, but she didn’t answer and the door to the building was locked. So I went as fast as I could, with only 15 minutes before she walked out of her appointment into the parking lot, at which point the door would lock behind her and she would be alone in the lot, not knowing what had happened to her mom. That was all I could think about as I walked as fast as I could to the gas station. So, I bought the $15 gas container, and two gallons of gas ($4.70 here in Los Angeles, for those elsewhere). As I was filling the gas can, a man pulled up and asked if I needed a ride. Normally I would say no, but I had to get back to my daughter, who I had been worried about the whole time. As we were driving, he told me he had stayed twice at the half way house up the street, both times he got out of the penitentiary. Wow! Yeah, that isn’t the kind of thing you want to hear when you jump into a stranger’s car. But he then went on to tell me how he spoke to his son for the first time ever just the day before, and he told me his son’s name and that he found him on Facebook. He then dropped me off and was on his way.
I put the gas in my car. Annnnnnd … it didn’t work. The only place that was around in the area, sharing the parking lot with doctor’s office that was open was a mental hospital. Yes, this is a true story. So I went there and tried to find someone with jumper cables. I found two ambulance attendants, who were very helpful and came and put the cables on my car. Fifteen minutes later— nothing. The battery was completely dead. And then, so was my phone. My daughter and I got in the back of the ambulance and they dropped us off at an Autozone, about eight blocks away. I didn’t know if I was going to try to learn how to install a battery, alone with my 13-year-old in a dark parking lot, if I was going to carry that heavy thing up the eight-block long hill—I had no idea.
As we stood in line, in a state of awe at the weirdness of the situation, I felt a nudge. An invisible nudge. It nudged—almost pushed— me toward a Hispanic man who was standing at the register. I asked him if he knew how to install a battery. He said yes. I asked him if he could help us, and he said yes. His name was Daniel. He had to repair his own car, in the parking lot, so we sat on the curb for about an hour. My daughter and I wrapped in his sweatshirt that he gave us because we were cold, watching the people doing various street businesses on the corner.
Finally, he was done with his car. He didn’t speak English well enough to understand how to get to my car, so he told me to drive. His van seemed like his home—meaning, I think he lived in it. So I drove his van to the parking lot by the mental hospital, and he was able to install the new battery, our new friend Daniel.
PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING
What was truly amazing about this adventure, and the point of this blog,is that every single time I needed someone, they showed up, like clockwork. It took four people to help—ambulance drivers, an ex-con, and a homeless man who barely spoke English. But they were there, and I couldn’t question for one second the force that put everyone where they should be. Because really, that battery would have died eventually, and it could have been a lot worse.
There was a time when this adventure would have been a terrible chain of events— I wouldn’t have seen anything good about it at all. My daughter was inclined to get negative about it. I had said to her, “This could have been so much worse!” And she rolled her pre-teen eyes at me and said, “It could have been so much better, too.” To which I replied, “Maybe, but the way I am looking at it keeps me grateful and positive. The way you are looking at it will always make you a victim, and unhappy.” She smiled, and said, “Mom, you’re weird.” Later, though, she did concede that it was pretty wild how there were people right there, giving rides and helping install batteries and jump cars. I was glad she was there to experience it—stranded by a mental hospital in a bad part of town with the phone dead. It was like the setting for a slasher movie, and saved by four not-so-random angels. I love these awesome adventures in sobriety.
The moral of the story? It depends on how you look at it. Perception is everything. EVERYTHING. We learn this in recovery; it’s a pivotal lesson for us. The world adjusts to our personal frame of reference. It shows up exactly as we call it, based on what we choose to see. Because I perceive this to be good world, where I am divinely guided and protected, then it is. It is a good world. I am divinely guided and protected. And so are you.