Rock Bottom

by

Seven years ago, last night, which was rapidly becoming this morning, which was becoming please God help me, I hit rock bottom.

I was at the lowest point in my life.  The worst kind of hell that was possible I did not know what to do, but I knew it had to stop.

I was working at Mercury Lending, LLC.  I was a mortgage broker, in title, but really what I was doing was cold calling people to get them to re-finance their mortgage on their house.  I got a lot of hang ups. I got a lot of take me off your list.  I was bad, bad, bad at what I did.

How in the world did I talk my way into the job, I still do not know.  But I did.  I worked on commission and I had not made a single commission since I had started, three and a half months previous.  I was living on cash advances from my credit card.  And they were fast approaching their limits, fast.

Especially since I had just gotten back from a week with my mother in London, on my credit card dime.  I had gotten drunk and coked up one night and opened my inbox to see a “deal” from Travelocity on round trip tickets to London.  And in a brown out, I bought two.  One for my mom and one for me, including accommodations across the street from Buckingham Palace.

I was tapped out.  Scared about making rent, worn out, I had sworn off the cocaine for the umpteenth time and I was tired.  God, I was so tired.  I don’t know how I was showing up for work, I really don’t.  Running on nerves, pride, and too much caffeine, which never seemed to be enough as I would still feel like crawling under my desk and sleeping half way through the day.

Two things happened that fateful January 11th, 2005.  Number one, I got my fist re-fi! Oh my god, it just could not have happened at a better time.  My commission was “small” in comparison to what most of the guys in the office were making, $2200, but after months of not making anything it was worth celebrating.

Number two, Jennifer called.  Jennifer and I knew each other from Hawthorne Lane.  We had been tied at the hip when I worked there, but the relationship had a lot of ups and downs, as most friendships based on waiting tables, drinking, doing ecstasy, and   smoking cigarettes at after hours parties, do.

Jennifer relayed that Paul had finally asked Colleen, a friend and co-worker at the restaurant, to marry him!  And he had pulled the trigger with the little blue box, and boy howdy, I needed to get my ass down to the restaurant and see the rock as soon as I got off work.

I was happy to comply.  It would be good to walk in with a little of my own upbeat news.  Especially, as I had gotten fired at Hawthorne Lane three months prior.  I had started at the mortgage firm and worked days and then I would haul ass over to the restaurant and work nights.

It was horrific.  I was always trying to come down, stay up, manage, juggle, get it right.  And no matter how hard I tried I could not quite keep it together.

The owner, David Gingrass, called me aside about three weeks before firing me (during the month I took off from drinking) and asked to speak with me privately.  He called me the Pied Piper of Hawthorne Lane.  He said he could not fathom how I could go out, dance all night and then come into work, get raving customer comment cards, up sell the food, and walk away at the end of my shifts being always within the top three in high sales.

But he hated, man he had a cold way of looking at you, the way the rest of the staff was incapable of pulling it together.  He said that my mood, my mood, set the tone for the entire restaurant.  If I was in a good mood, so was everyone else. If I was in a bad mood, so was everyone else.  He had never seen anything else like it.  And despite the fact that I could pull it together to do my job, the rest of the staff couldn’t.

He told me he could not afford to have half of the cooks on the line falling apart because they had been out with me partying the night before.

Man was I pissed.

Nothing pisses me off more than when some one else is right, and boy, was he right.  Despite my vehement defensive arguments to the contrary.

I made it three more weeks before he found a chink in my armour and fired me on the spot.  Thus began the downward spiral that was to culminate three months later.

I did not actually have a problem walking into Hawthorne, the staff had been horrified when I got fired and I was feted quite a bit about town.  When I walked into the bar that happy hour to congratulate Colleen I was just going to congratulate her and walk out.  Get on the bus and go home.

This is not what happened.

Jason, the bartender saw me, said, “the usual?” And before I could say no thank you, I was nodding my head yes and in a twinkling of an eye I had a full pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in front of me with a double dirty Kettle One martini on the rocks as my “beer back”.

I remember this feeling of resignation take over me as I lifted the beer to my mouth, I really was not planning on having a drink.  Then it hit my palate and all bets were off.  The bitter hops perked me right up and I chased that mouthful of beer with a good big pull from the martini.

Colleen came out to show me her ring, but I had already stepped out the door to call my dealer.  I left my drinks on the bar, went outside lit a cigarette, said fuck it, and dialed up Miguel.  I confirmed I wanted three grams and walked behind The Thirsty Bear to the Wells Fargo ATM next to the Star Bucks.

I had placed my order, gotten my money, and was back to the restaurant before my cigarette had finished burning.  I hugged Colleen again, tipped Jason, and walked out the door to the W Hotel lobby bar to await Miguel.

He arrived within twenty minutes of my call.

He was good like that.

He called my phone, I stepped outside, leaving my Chimay on the bar with my coat draped on the stool.  I lit a cigarette and waited for him to pull up in his nondescript Saturn sedan.   He pulled to the curb, I opened the door, we exchanged money for cocaine, he kept it in an Altoid tin, he drove around the block and dropped me back off at the corner.

I walked back into the bar, took a sip from my Chimay, ordered a martini, and went to the bathroom to do my first key bump of the night.

Twenty four hours later I was doing cocaine that I had stolen from some one else’s stash, after roaming all over town, drinking here, drinking there, snorting this, snorting that, playing strip poker at some one’s apartment at 4 in the morning, closing the bar, Doc’s Clock on Mission, opening another, Clooney’s on Valencia, and finally sneaking back into my place as the birds were madly greeting a new day.

I had officially lost my way.  I knew I was done.

I said, please God, help me.

And I never used again.

 

 

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One Response to “Rock Bottom”

  1. Michael Says:

    Amen.

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