Friday, March 03, 2006
Early To Rise
Up before the alarm clock, in search of coffee, wondering how this will affect my sleep. Grabbing my shaving kit, I head downstairs towards the kitchen, detour to the head for to pinch a loaf, clean the coffee pots as to attempt to start brewing, let in the relapsers. After all, it is the day after.
Walking down the long hardwood floor hallway towards the bathroom I spy an unidentified black man in the entrance hall gently tapping on the door. Halting in my tracks, trying to muster up alertness without aid of caffeine, I examine my watch: 5:16am. That explains why he’s rapping on the door, it’s locked, but doesn’t explain who he is and why he wants in.
“Get Macombu,” the vaguely familiar man demands. Okay, so he’s got to be a resident; he knows staff member Macombu W. Still shaking the sleep off without the benefit of coffee, I realize that this guy is strangely more alert than myself. I wonder what he’s on? Doesn’t he realize us old men need morning java before running up and down stairs to wake staff. He must not have been a resident long for me to be that unfamiliar with him. Boy I’m full of double-negatives this morning. I think he is Steve B.
Duty done, it’s back to the kitchen where the resident elderly coffee coinsure is patently monitoring my brewing techniques. Just as I complete the task, Peter D. is patently staring back at me through Winter filthy windows with that Mervyn's ‘open-open-open’ look on his face. I flash him the index-finger-to-watch combined with a stern head-shake sign language indicating that it’s too early to open the back door. He nods in understanding. Five minutes later I’d have let him in avoiding waking the entire house by setting off the exit alarm.
When you’re abruptly woken for the first time by this alarm you instinctively throw on just what’s required to exit a burning building. If you yell, “Fire”, while trying to save others’ lives, you’ll be spotted immediately as a newbie and laughed out of morning meditation. The intent of this alarm is usually to catch those who crave a smoke between midnight and 5:30am, but also for those with more nefarious plans.
Upstairs to wake Macombu again to let the whiner relapser Peter back home. Why bother? The guy isn’t grateful for what he has. I should not be taking them man’s inventory, but when a man jumps down your throat for almost confusing his girlfriend with his wife on the phone, complains that the food served is too fattening, and mentions in our bitch sessions that people should use the bathroom closest to their room, you realize that you’re all out of slack to give. Macombu informs me he’s already disarmed the alarm, and with that I let him in with, “Welcome to La Casa Country Club.”
That morning’s meditation meeting we learn of yet a third man AWOL who hasn’t returned. Peter tested positive, having broken a curfew from a previous relapse. He will be asked to leave and will not be able to return to The House for six months if the county allows him. Steven being still on his first week customary 9:30pm curfew relapsed on his cross addiction to sex, not an excusable offense, but guaranteed to abstain him for two weeks.
All this on the morning after the first of the month when everyone in The House receives their GA (General Assistance) checks: $91.00 that can pay for a month’s worth of essentials or an evening’s worth of trouble. And I haven’t even cashed mine yet.