Laid off and feeling desperate, an AA asks for help and finds more than just a job
Having become unemployed when the company I was working for was absorbed into its parent company, I sent out my resume to over 700 firms. I got only one response, which was for a part-time job across town. I interviewed but was not selected. I didn’t know what to do next.
There were only two weeks left on my unemployment payments and I had no idea where we were going to get the money to live on. My wife worked, but her salary was not enough to support us.
I was at my wit’s end. Pacing my basement, I was trying to see where I had overlooked another job-finding approach that I might take or an opportunity I had missed. I just couldn’t find any sense of hope in my situation.
One day, as I was pacing around, the thought struck me: God reduces to nothing that which he would use to his own purpose. I tried to force that idea from my mind, but it just kept returning as I paced. Finally, I stood absolutely still and said out loud, “OK, God, if that’s what you want, I’m in. Let’s do it.”
Nothing happened, no flash of light or insight. No new avenue to travel down. However, I felt a bit more at peace. That night I went to bed and slept well.
The following day, I was again at it, trying to come up with anything I had overlooked in my job search. The phone rang and I answered. A woman asked if she could do a job interview over the phone with me. She said she worked for a company that was a competitor of a previous company where I had worked. I had purposely not sent that company my resume, nor had I applied online for any of their positions. How she got my name or resume I do not know.
I told her it would be fine to do the interview, even though I did not know what position I was interviewing for. Of course, with a drunk like me, that kind of information is not vital, as I had experience faking my way through any circumstance. So we did the interview.
When she was done asking questions, she mentioned that while I had a good skill base, it wasn’t deep enough in the areas she was looking for. But she said she would submit my name anyway. I thanked her for doing the interview (genuinely, as I thought it was a good “trial run” for me) and went about my business.
The following day, I received a call to come in for a face-to-face interview. I did that interview and then interviewed with several folks, including the fellow I would replace. I felt completely at ease during the meetings. Odd, since everything was on the line. I had never been that comfortable in an interview before in my life.
Several days later, I received a call from the same woman and she wanted to send me a job offer. She asked what I was looking for as far as a salary. I replied with a number that I thought would be a good salary.
“Well, I suppose you would like a million dollars too,” she said.
“If you have it lying around, I’d take it off your hands,” I replied, which was totally out of character for me to say.
“Not quite,” she answered, referring to the million dollars. But then she asked me if I would accept a salary that was twice the amount I had asked for.
After a pause, I said, simply, “Yes.” But that’s not the end of the story. I went to work for the company and, as we drunks do, after a couple of weeks I got to thinking how I really deserved a new “toy,” now that I was doing so well. I began to ponder what I would buy with my newfound windfall. My imagination went far and wide in the next week or two, trying to arrive at just the right thing with which to reward myself. Of course, I would reward myself. Hadn’t I done a lot of work? At that point, the exasperated comment I had made to God in my basement was far from my mind.
Before I could settle on just the right reward for myself, I found out my daughter and her son were moving in with us. Well, that took care of any extra money that was lying around. I slowly realized the whole thing wasn’t about getting me a job, more money or a new toy. It was about me being able to provide what was needed in the lives of people I loved. Isn’t it always true that we aren’t able to truly see the full path until we have already traversed it?
That day in my basement I had in fact manifested a prayer that I have often recommended to others. The folks I sponsor call it the “most dangerous prayer in the world.” It goes like this: “God, do not let me out of this situation until I learn what you would have me learn.”
Apparently I had something to learn. What I learned from this was that when my Higher Power is involved and I am not working on my needs (God already has those covered), I am better prepared to see to the needs of those around me.
I guess you could make a case that this is what the Twelve Steps are about. Once I decide to be “willing to go to any lengths,” then the Steps become the means by which I become of service to others. The Steps aren’t about making me happy, comfortable and content. They are about me becoming an effective instrument in the lives of others. My happiness, comfort, serenity and joy are merely the by-products of that.