Scenes from an American Diner: A Story in 26 Parts
of us have had our lives touched in some way by the disease of
addiction. Be it a loved one, friend, family member or even ourselves
no one is immune to the impact of this devastating illness. This story
is dedicated to all of those people, especially the ones who have found
recovery through the 12 step fellowship.
"That was rough," Stew said as they sat down at their new usual table. " I can't remember the last time I saw somebody beat up on themselves that much. Honestly, if he wasn't in the hospital already I'd be concerned for his well being."
Ted nodded consent. "Important thing is that he made it there- could've been so much worse. You heard from anybody else?"
"Yeah, Jim went to see him yesterday- I worry about that kid but he's in the meetings everyday so as long as he sticks to it he'll get through. Jared was saying something about going tomorrow- I get the feeling he's gonna recommend a change of sponsor when he gets out which I think it the best plan. I talked to Ethan about him and expressed my concerns and he talked to him, I think he recommended he take a little break until things get a little more settled with work and he has the time to devote to it."
"Yeah, screw-ups like us are a full time job all on our own," Ted laughed.
"You're not so bad- but the young ones like Scott, they're a bit of a challenge."
"You trying to say I'm not challenging? Because I take offense to that," Ted smiled at him.
"Like that right there, the fact that you can joke around with me when your son is coming to see you- to actually physically lay eyes on you and speak words to you, in person in- what? Two days? That's what makes you easier."
"Give it two days," Ted said, his smile gone.
"You never showed me the letter that got him to respond," Stew probed.
"I don't think it was that letter, per say- I think it was just writing so many that finally led to him relenting. I just talked, like you said. I stopped asking for things."
"That's gonna be a big thing when you talk to him- don't ask him anything. Don't ask him to forgive you, don't ask if you can see him regularly, don't expect him to let you into his life in anyway outside of that meeting," Stew said. "And I want you at no less than 3 meetings that day- you go that morning before you come here, you hit one right after- and I mean right after, and you go that night."
The waitress- the young girl with the name tag that read "Sally" and red streaks in her otherwise dirty-blond hair came by and dropped off menus. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"Sure, I'll just take a coke," Ted said absentmindedly.
"And you?" she asked turning to Stew.
"Coffee- Alice working tonight?"
"Um, I don't know- I can check," she said.
"Thanks," Stew said and smiled at her.
"Why do you care?" Ted asked, noticing the strange smile.
"Huh? She's just nice is all. Anyway, even if you're hearing the same thing over and over again I want you hearing it."
"And what if he makes me wait all day?" Ted asked, making a mental note to come back to his fixation on the loud-mouthed waitress later.
"Then we'll make the meetings come to you," Stew said. "You know we won't leave you here alone."
Ted nodded, looking down at his hands and frowning. Something about the sight made he feel uncomfortable so he reverted to his favorite activity of people watching. The late afternoon crowd was a different kind-of animal and gave the diner a completely different look. He reflected on how changing customers was sort-of like changing clothes- casual for the afternoon, dressy in the evenings, disheveled and worn at night. He found himself wondering what it looked like in here on Halloween and thought for a moment that he should make it a point to find out. "So what do I say?"
"I don't think you should prepare too much- you make up a script for yourself and you're gonna stick to it and he might not talk. He said he'd meet you, so just give him the space to talk. Don't be inpatient, don't ask too many questions, just give him the room to say what he came to say."
"And what if that's 'I hate you, I never want to see you again, stop writing me letters and go off and die somewhere' or something like that?"
"Then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Stew said.