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Dry alcoholics

They don't get drunk anymore but quitting drinking is just the beginning of recovery: After that they have to learn how to care about people again. They can't tell if the decisions that they make harm other people, and when they know then they don't care.

Friends and family members of problem drinkers are quick to spot one at work. Sometimes it's their supervisor and that can be very awkward. I've had several bosses who were alcoholics. It's a complicated situation because employees can't choose their supervisor; it's not a dating situation where one can move on if something's "off."

Strange things happened at The Home Depot when I was a designer there and in retrospect I realized that it was only in the departments that were managed by a recovered alcoholic. For example, I received a call from an assistant manager on my day off. He asked, "Why aren't you at work?" I responded, "I'm off today." He told me that I was on the schedule and so I looked in my binder for a ditto copy and it stated very clearly that I was off. He told me to bring it to him, which I did. He showed it to Jim Christensen, my department supervisor who did the scheduling, and asked him what happened. It turned out that he had changed the schedule and he forgot to tell me. Anyone can make an honest mistake like that, but the strange thing about it was that Jim told the assistant manager that I abandoned my job even though he had changed the schedule and didn't inform me.

He struck a million times. Here's another example. The decor in the kitchen design department was bland and everyone had been talking about it for months, and so when I had time I installed wainscoting in one of the model kitchens, and later I painted a different model kitchen. On my day off a French artist who worked in the plumbing department painted one of the other kitchens and he did such a terrible job that Jim thought that it was a malicious joke and he showed it to the store manager and told him that I did it. When I returned to work my coworkers cracked jokes about my paint job and I didn't know anything about it. We realized that the French artist must have done it. While we were talking I heard the store manager call my name over the store's amplifier system. As I walked to the office somebody told Jim that the French artist did it and so he called the store manager, and they were still talking when I walked into his office. I saw termination papers on his desk. He tried to pretend like they weren't there and he smiled politely and told me to return to my department.

My sister bought a fixer-upper cabin in a remote town in the mountains by a lake, and she hired a building contractor to oversee the project. She went on a trip and as soon as she left he immediately invited three of his buddies and his ex-girlfriend to stay there and they drank several cases of beer and panned for gold in the creek on her property. I showed up on Saturday night while they were carousing and I told them to leave. They laughed and gave me the finger and said that I don't own the property. I should have called the sheriff but I didn't because my sister would have been ballistic, thinking that I got in the way of her project. It turned out that it didn't matter: His project failed the county's building inspection and my sister was forced to hire a different contractor to redo all of the electrical work and a few other minor things.

I knew a police officer who had recovered from alcoholism and he hired a light part time housekeeper for his elderly mom and paid her $650 a month. She was a full time student in college majoring in pre-med and so her availability was limited to about an hour per day. He made her work about four hours per day. An agency would have charged him at least $100 per day and she was doing it for about $22. It was exploitation but more importantly she fell behind in school. Her grades slipped and she had to re-take medical chemistry the following semester. She cut back on her work schedule by taking his mom out twice a week instead of everyday and she called her church's pastor to arrange to have someone else drive her to Sunday service. He fired her in the middle of the semester when she had mid-term exams. He found a new victim to replace her: An undocumented Chinese woman who was about 21 years old.

Dry alcoholics are also the most confusing boyfriends on earth. I met one who carried the largest bible ever in the backseat of his SUV and he attended church and bible study like clockwork. He was the biggest hypocrite on earth: He told me whatever I wanted to hear and then he used me like I'm disposable Kleenex tissue. There are no laws on the books that pertain to men lying to women and so I had to just walk away and hope that someday I'll be able to block him out of my memory. A few months later he tried to come back and I told him to go away and then he emailed me biblical scriptures. I hit the "Spam" button. That's really not enough; he should be forced to go to "traffic school" every Saturday for a month and listen to a dozen psychology professors give lectures about preying on women.

The worst alcoholic of all time was my dad's second wife Tina. She used to hit him. After their divorce her drinking became so bad that their kids found her laying on the floor in the hallway unconscious and naked. About ten or fifteen years later she finally quit drinking but by then she had reached the point of no return: Two of their kids shut her out of their lives completely and she had been fired from every job that she had ever had. Her mom took her out of her will but she allows her live in her condo. As a sober person she blames everyone else for all of her problems. She even blames someone else for her kids' refusal to talk to her. She hasn't had a drink for years but she's nowhere near recovering from alcoholism. It's as if the frontal lobe of her cerebral cortex is partially impaired. She looks and sounds normal but she can't see her behaviors or see the impact that her behaviors have on other people. Other's feelings and well being are foreign to her.