Keeping A Lid On It – Grapevine Article September 2021 by Norm H

My sponsor got a chuckle out of my first reaction to the over-stuffed garbage can. I was once again reminded that if I learn to laugh at myself, I can have a lifetime of entertainment.

I walked out to the curb to bring our empty trash can back to the house. As I grabbed the handle to roll it back to the garage, I was surprised to find it still full to the brim. Then I noticed all the cars parked on our street, including the one blocking our driveway. 

It was another neighborhood driveway get-together, each lawn chair six feet apart. These physically distanced parties have become popular in our neighborhood since the COVID lockdown started. The garbage truck couldn’t reach my “socially distanced” trash, so we’re stuck with a full load of garbage for another week!

As I headed back to the garage, fuming while pulling the heavy container, I was also rehearsing the choice words I wanted to use on my neighbor. Then I recalled what a friend had said in our virtual AA meeting that very morning about how she handles a burst of anger. She just says, “Remain calm and be patient,” to herself over and over until the storm passes. So I stopped what I was doing and tried it. It worked, and I walked into our house smiling. I did not react to my first (alcoholic) thought and we still have a peaceful neighborhood.

The next day I went to the garage and surveyed the latest lockdown damage. Alongside the packed garbage can was a large pile of “stuff,” the result of a pandemic-inspired cleaning spree my wife and I had started to straighten up the house a bit. I planned to call a friend who owned a pickup truck so we could run this pile to the dump. But then I realized that our SUV had lots of room in the back to hold it all. We had extra time on our hands and the town dump is only eight miles away. Off we went.

We made three runs to the dump over the next three days, along with three stops at our favorite coffee shop drive-thru on the way. We now have a clean garage, an empty garbage can and a neighbor who is still our friend.

I was told early on that we have to learn to listen; then we can listen to learn. Fortunately, I was listening fairly well that morning and benefited from the suggestions I had heard in my AA meeting.

My sponsor got a chuckle out of my first reaction to the over-stuffed garbage can. I was once again reminded that if I learn to laugh at myself, I can have a lifetime of entertainment. And if I continue to pay attention in my meetings, I may just keep myself out of trouble.

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