REVIEW OF THE WEEK
BAO DAI OF HOLLYWOOD
DATELINE: HOLLYWOOD: September 2, 2001
THE BOSS' FRIEND AND THE TEMP ... or The Addict and the Dead
It's a whacky world, and one in which it's probably not best to share too
much with others, because if you do, others may take the blinders off and
bite you in the ass.
One of the seemingly endless string of temporary secretaries actually
seemed to know what she was doing. She also, it turns out, was very up
front about the fact she was "an alcoholic and drug addict" recovering in
AA and NA (the latter being a group which, for those of you who don't
know, is not affiliated with AA and has been giving AA a bad name since it
broke away in the 50s, but that's just my opinion).
Well, on the second day this woman, whose name I can't even recall so I
can't even break her anonymity a little bit, had to go home because her
boyfriend -- another recovering addict -- had overdosed on something at
some time and either was taking care of her children while she was working
or was supposed to be doing that but was instead either face down in a
gutter or had taken up residence at a crack house or was on a respirator
at a hospital or was nodding off while the children ran naked through the
house unfed, undiapered and perhaps decorating his comatose body with
Now it didn't bother me that these jokes ran rampant about the unknown
boyfriend, and I assumed she never returned to work out of choice, not
because, in total disregard of the law the office manager told the temp
agency we would not take her back because she was an alcoholic/addict and
darn proud of it (as she should be -- albeit perhaps a bit more quietly),
but it bothered me that the crisis being faced by this woman somehow
inspired what those of us call in AA "normies" to assign to her some sort
of moral fault, and that she became the butt of a series of jokes
after the boss made sure everyone knew she was herself an addict and
alcoholic (albeit a recovering one).
And it bothered me to stand there and chuckle along, like a light skinned
octoroon with processed hair trying to pass. I'm ashamed, because I know
first hand this woman fought -- fights, perhaps daily -- a battle not one
of them could ever imagine. I'm ashamed because I know it is not a moral
failing on her part that made her into an alcoholic and addict. I'm
ashamed because I know the indescribable hell she has where she has been,
and where she fears she may again end up and how society has made her
fight all the harder by criminalizing her problem... a problem she has the
moral courage to at least attempt to address -- whether through AA or NA
or methadone maintenance or naltrexone tablets or whatever.
She felt she had a problem and was making an honest effort to improve her
lot in life.
Most people ignore their problems -- or deny they exist -- in themselves
and in others.
A few weeks later a good friend of the bosses died -- from "mixing" a
tranquilizer with a painkiller. The boss claimed it was "just some freak
Freak is right. A freak right out of the end of the Sixties is my
Oh yeah, it could have been a rare reaction to one Valium and a Tylenol
#3, but one wonders why he took such drugs together ... well, some
might wonder. Some can guess -- it's statistically a lot more likely that
it was a freak accident which happened when the friend was trying to drown
the intolerable pain of being.
So who is the morally stronger? The woman or the boss' friend? Neither,
in my view -- they were just at different places at different times. But
what about the boss who cannot acknowledge that his friend was indeed a
lot more like the woman -- or her boyfriend -- than like him?
Daes he feel morally superior to his friend? I doubt it, nor should
he.the intolerable pain of being
Perhaps the true sadness in this warped little anecdote is that the boss
sees the two differently -- and would have seen his friend differently,
and weaker, had he been strong enough to seek help.the intolerable pain of
Talk about a whacky world.the intolerable pain of being