workshop on the nature of addiction held at a non-profit rehab center.
Still getting on my feet financially, I didn't have a car at the
time. Every Thursday, I rode the bus to the center for the workshop,
and would then take a taxi to the 12 step meeting I attended that
One night, I asked a classmate I barely knew for a ride to the meeting
-- my pride wouldn't let me say so, but I was so broke, it was a
choice between taxi or dinner that night -- and he obliged, but made
it clear I should have a backup plan in the future. His children had
been removed from his care by the state, and he was at the class
solely as a requirement to clear his name. On the way over, we talked
about the meeting I was going to. He was curious, but not yet
committed to the idea that his problems were a result of his own
attitudes and actions.
I encouraged him to sit in and see for himself what it was all about.
Reluctantly, he agreed to; he really just wanted to go home. The
chairperson of the group that night made an impression on him,
especially when the meeting was finished. After well over 20 years
clean, as a way of giving back, the man quietly combed the grounds
outside for cigarette butts and threw them away. Here was a man who
didn't need to prove anything, humbling himself to a service task no
one else wanted, and no one had even asked him to do.
My friend soon changed his attitude and began attending meetings
regularly and eagerly. His kids were returned to him, and he joined
the Thursday group as his homegroup. There, he met the woman he would
His new wife already had a daughter close to his own daughter's age,
and the two stepsisters now babysit younger kids outside while the
meeting is being held. Today, he holds an elected service position in
the group (previously held by his wife) and chairs the meeting
To put it plainly, his life changed in positive ways he could never
have foreseen, simply by extending the kindness of a car ride.
When we consistently do a good job at work, we may get a raise, or a
promotion, or develop a solid resume for future employment. When we
eat well, get plenty of rest, and exercise, we may look better, live
longer or become ill less often. When we entertain ourselves watching
movies or TV, reading novels, playing games, going to amusement parks,
or going fishing or camping, we may enjoy life more. All these
self-serving acts have tried and true results.
We don't know what will happen when we help others without promise of
anything in return, especially if we don't seek credit for our kind
acts. We may doubt that what comes around goes around. We may be
impatient, or greedy with our time and good cheer, doling out smiles
and assistance as bargaining chips, only to those who please us
directly or can give us what we want, now. "What's in it for me?" is
a plague of epic proportions.
But, our Higher Power has miracles in store for us, if only we make a
little selfless effort.
My friend still volunteers to give people rides when they need one,
without hesitation, and never talks about it or asks anything in
return. He frequently thanks me for asking him for a ride that
evening, three years ago.
And, the grounds outside the meeting space are still free of cigarette