You Just Never Know: A Drunk Story

For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a recovering alcoholic. Because this is the time of the year when I make a point of looking back at how things were, I offer the following story.

Twenty-odd years ago, when my life was substantially different from the way it is today, I was handed an assignment by my boss, the Chief of Police (hereinafter — and always — referred to as The Chief). I’m a touch vague on the dates, but that doesn’t matter.

The job was to wade through a bunch of sworn affidavits that had been provided by the local hospital as fruits of a civil case, interview some folks, and find out if there were appropriate criminal charges. After a week or so reading a lot of boring statements and talking to a lot of people, I came to the following conclusions.

  • The Board of Directors had for some years given the hospital administrator carte blanche, and he had taken advantage of it to the tune of about three million dollars of cash unaccounted for and credit card purchases un-repaid.
  • Contractors working on additions to the complex also had their fingers in the till.
  • There were substantial indications that fraud and embezzlement had been committed, but our small department lacked the investigative resources to bring the case to trial.
  • The case should be turned over to the State Attorney for further investigation. (Ultimately, it went to the state Department of Law Enforcement.)

Eventually the administrator, an active and advanced alcoholic, served three years. It turned out that much of the money had gone for expensive inpatient treatment for himself, a daughter and his wife, all of whom were eventually successful at getting sober. The administrator got sober in prison.

Now here’s the point: always be nice to folks, even when you don’t have to.

The drunken hospital administrator, because of his interest in the subject, had founded a treatment center on the 6th floor of the hospital. Although closed now due to corporate decisions, it was at one time well-known as one of the best treatment centers in the country (which is to say, in the world). A few years later, when The Chief saved my life by forcing me into treatment — and made sure that my wife got treatment as well when she asked for it — we got sober on the sixth floor of that hospital.

And the ex-administrator, whom I had helped send to prison, eventually became my 12-step sponsor.


Thanks for letting me share — and to those of you who have been a part of my recovery, thanks for saving my life.

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