An introduction to an ex druggie and how he said it went down,
I was in the parking lot of the church in Hollywood, Florida where we were parked doing some volunteer work. One afternoon a little old car whips into the parking lot. Not exactly old but small. The driver stopped in a position that he could talk to me through the passenger side open window. He said, "I'm a member of the group that has rented the hall in the church for tomorrow night (New Year's Eve) and I bought 12 bags of ice but only nine will fit in my freezer. Is there a place in the church I could store three bags of ice?"
I told him, "Don't bother ME with your little problems, buster!" and smiled and said, "Bring 'em in." He got the picture. He said, "I live just around the corner, I'll be back in a bit." When he came back with the ice bags I held the church door open for him and tried to make conversation. I asked some question or other that began "Did you. . ."
He said, "You're bigoted aren't you? I heard you call me a Jew. All over the place people are bigots--Did you (said fast) this and did you that. What's this world coming to?” He was quick with a quip.
He looked to be forty something in sloppy casual clothes with a mustache, hair a bit gray here and there, a little heavy. His eyes seemed to be a bit large and opened wide—classically wide-eyed, I guess. After a bit of chit chat, something I said or asked about the scheduled meeting acted as a trigger.
He said, "I was a captain in the Army (of Israel I learned later) in Lebanon and started using hashish. It was cheap and it made me feel so GOOD. I could socialize and do my work disarming explosives for the army or anything else I needed to do while on the stuff. At the same time I was uneasy about feeling so good all the time. I went to a Rosh Yeshiva (the chief scholar in a Hebrew school for rabbis) and said, 'I use this stuff that makes me feel very, very good and I can work and do all kinds of stuff on it but I’m worried about it’s use.'
He asked me, "Can you learn things easily while using it?"
I said "Absolutely."
"Then keep using it."
"That made me happy. I had a license to use and it became part of my life.
"Back in the States, I got a job doing lighting for concerts. It was great. I got a credit card from my employer I could use for anything I wanted as long as my work got done. No charge was ever refused so life was good. I never had to worry about money for the stuff, nor anything else I happened to want. I worked all over the country with the same deal. I was high on cocaine all the time. Life was very very good. I was never without the drugs but they didn't work as well as they had but I didn't have any problems that I could see. But I'll tell you how the man upstairs works.
“I finished a Bon Jovi concert in Chicago and my boss asked me how long it had been since I'd had a vacation. I'd never had one and told him that. He said, 'We've got a concert in Miami in one month. You can take a vacation till then. Just be there to do the lighting.’
“So I got to Miami a few days early and decided to get a license for the electrical work I was doing. I was zipped up higher than a kite the morning I was going to apply and got to the government building very early to get a good parking spot. I was waiting around until the licensing office opened and saw a girl standing by a car sobbing her heart out. She was crying and carrying on something fierce. I went over and asked if I could help.
“She told me she'd locked her keys in her car and wasn't going to be able to get to work. She was very upset from fear of losing her job.
“I decided to help and it took me just a minute to get the car unlocked. She was relieved and very grateful and we stood and talked a bit. Before she left, I said, ‘Look, I'll be working at a Bon Jovi concert in a few days. Would you like to go with me? You can hear and see the concert and it won't cost you a thing.’
“She said she’d very much like to go and gave me her address so I could pick her up. We went on about our lives.
“The day of the concert, I showed up at her address just a few blocks west of the church here in Hollywood and a few blocks north. It was an apartment complex. I'd rented a big limo ‘cause the credit card was still working and, of course, I was as high as could be. When I got to the door, she told me that she really wanted to go to the concert but she HAD to go to a meeting for an hour or so. She said if I couldn’t wait so she could go to the meeting she'd understand and I should go on without her but she hoped to go to the concert too. I decided we could make the concert easily so off we went to her meeting.
"It turned out the meeting was NA (Narcotics Anonymous)! I went in with her, sat through that meeting, and never touched the stuff from that day to this. See how God works?"
I asked "Why did you quit?"
He said, "The stuff wasn't working anymore like it did at first. I just couldn't get lit up anymore."
Is that wild?
I learned later that he’d been born in the US and after high school had traveled in Europe and Asia. He visited Israel, stayed for a number of years, learned Hebrew, was drafted into the army.
In subsequent conversations, I learned that his life on drugs was getting to be unmanageable and there were difficulties. He had almost no relationships with people. It took more and more of the drugs and they did less and less for him. His body was compensating and some parts weren't working as well as they should have. On Sep. 11, 2001, he was working close enough to the Pentagon that he saw the plane hit and felt the heat of the fire. He's been unable to work since and is on disability. He does volunteer work two days a week at the hospital where he went for treatment for drug use.
One needs to be a bit careful because it seems to me his brain wasn't working quite right. After telling me he never used after that first meeting he told me later on that he did start using again and had to start the chip process all over again. Chips are one of the tools NA uses to help members stay clean. One gets a colored chip (small metal rings with paper inside used for key identification) to indicate how many days they’ve been clean.
From my perspective, he seems to be paying a very high price for all those “good” feelings he had while using the stuff. He isn't close to retirement age, can't work, has no retirement fund and has to live on the dole of disability payments.
And now you know as much about Shiya as I do.