This month’s topic is being hosted by Mohammad Darab – thanks Mohammad!
Conclusion – not sure 20 year old me would have heeded my advice as I was still growing up and thought I knew everything. But here goes…
After flunking out of college because I was partying too much I eventually ended up working at Discount Tire. (I worked for them for over six years, including working through college. I love the smell of tires in the morning. Smells like (maybe NSFW) Victory!) The first store I worked at was off Avenue K. During a trip to SQL Saturday Dallas last year, I took a trip down memory lane. The Discount Tire store had re-located a block south but the old building was still there.
There is an old phrase which attempts to capture a sentiment that originated from a book by Thomas Wolfe – “You Can’t Go Home Again“. As time marches on our memories tend to fade and we remember with nostalgia things from our youth. Taking trips down memory lane has it pluses and minuses.
Changing tires in the Texas summer is back-breaking work. I can’t tell you the number of metal splinters, smashed knuckles, tires exploding in your face I survived.
After work, we would pitch in to buy beer and then hang-out super stinky, dirty and all and drink beer for a while. Myself and others were clearly under-age.
I remember one day our Manager (Dave) came out of the showroom and into the edge of the bays. Faked looking at some tires w/ tickets needing work. Used it as an excuse to cut a huge fart then go back into the showroom. OMG, we about died. We were already working on the edge of intense heat, sweat, concentration and safety and now this? He probably drank a lot of beer the night before…
I also remember another night we went out to a bar after work to play pool. I got smashed and he took me home. Dave was good people. Sometime ago I started to search out old friends, acquaintances, to either re-connect or just see how they ended up. Sadly, I saw that he died in 2014.
I bounced around to other stores as they rotated people around to see different management styles, volume of customers, etc. It was as this time I did something stupid that would affect and haunt me for the rest of my life. I drank too much at a party and committed a crime- I got a DWI. I wasn’t even 21. My boss and girlfriend posted bail and came to visit me in jail. You have no idea what it was like to call your parents to ask for help. One of the lowest points of my life.
It was at this time I was re-located to another store managed by a gentleman named Jim Fraley. He was a strong Christian and ran a tight ship. He saw how smart and skilled I was but couldn’t stand that I would show up to work hungover at times. He hated to see people waste their skills and talents. One day he said you are coming to church with us. Not like, hey, by the way, if you have time, would you like to come to church with us kinda thing. It was almost forced and I accepted. I knew that I wasn’t right with my life and wanted to make things better but couldn’t do it on my own. It was also at this time I began going back to school via Richland Community College after work (dear Lawd I smelled and had baked sweat on me; I didn’t have time to go home and take a shower; I hated it) and began the slow and long climb out of my own personal Hell.
During this time my girlfriend broke up with me (crazy as this sounds, we are friends on Facebook today and she has her own family and I have mine).
I have this thing about closure and hard edges. I went to one last party. I wanted to give things up and go out on one last fling. Partied hard and woke up in the back of my car- couldn’t afford to violate probation.
Done. Quit alcohol, smoking pot, cigarettes and whatever else.
When my friends heard I went clean, I got used for being a safe driver. Okay for a while but then I really resented it. I felt like I was being used by my “friends”.
In the months that followed, I spent less and less time with my biker friends and others.
Who Are Your Friends?
Realized I had surrounded myself with people who loved to party hard like I did.
When I quit partying hard, I was suddenly alone. Spent less and less time hanging out with my old friends, even though they were cool and didn’t mind I had gone clean. I missed getting invited to parties. Or showing up and jumping into the action. Realizing how stupid and ridiculous people behaved when you are straight but they were still trying to chemically blast off from reality.
Today I can say I haven’t touched illegal drugs since 1989, 30 YEARS. I still have alcohol once in while. And yes, since pot is legal in my home state of Colorado I still haven’t touched it even though it is legal, but not at the federal level.
This was a hard post to write. I fear and don’t want any of my kids following in my footsteps and I hope and pray that they don’t.
Tom Roush once told me to write stories, even under the fear of someone (kids!) finding out about uncomfortable things about one’s past.
Get over it, he said. Write.
There are some gaps and omissions during this timeline but those will eventually be told later in some kind of memoir or autobiography or something.
Live frugal. Invest and save your money. Go fly a kite. Work hard but take time to smell the roses. Be OK with not having everything figured out before you can figure it out. Choose to spend more time in books than with questionable friends. Pray more. Read The Bible and ask questions of fellow believers. Get a computer!
My lunch routine was to go home, make some Macaroni and Cheese, then eat Blue Bell Ice Cream. Rinse and repeat.
Night time was either Whataburger or a flavor of Hamburger Helper (I liked Cheeseburger) and more Blue Bell Ice Cream. I somehow managed to survive.
Today, and now you know, the rest of the story. Paul Harvey.