This is the third part in a series of articles on overcoming escapism by Brother Jason, a soldier in the Salvation Army. Jason doesn’t have a blog, but you should show him some love here in this shithole. If you’re joining late, you’ll want to start at Part 1 here. You can also go back to Part 2 here.
I was now “sneaking” drinks at the nightclub to steady my hand and to stop the “shakes” that were almost uncontrollable when a level of alcohol was not kept up in my body.
The club owner, Harry Denton an “old SF queen” (or “hag” depending on his mood) warned me right before Christmas, “babes, you gotta get it together, I don’t know what’s wrong, but figure it out…you’re on thin ice here.”
I started to pawn off anything, and everything that was of value that I had in storage. When I wasn’t partying, or working…….I was at my roach infested room just crying……..bawling is probably the better term. I remember waking up New Years Day 2005 on the floor in pile of my my own puke in some house waaaaayyyyyyy out in the Richmond neighborhood; I awoke, looked around and saw two “hot girls” giving me looks of hate of “GET OUT NOW”
I came to work on January 5th, 2005. Before my shift started, I was stocking the bar…….and I ducked below, grabbed three shots of Jim Beam…….to steady my hands, they would not stop shaking! I stood up and………there was my boss. The club owner, Harry Denton. “What’s up babes?” He asked, he was smiling, and I figured….okay, turn on the charm. Be cool. He won’t know or he’ll just give me a warning (again).
He jokes with me a bit and then says, I gotta talk to you real quick in the office before you start……..
We get to his swank, and gaudy looking office. He is telling me about work, how he started out as a waiter in San Francisco in 1966; while printing up paperwork…….small talk. No anger, or attitude with me. I’m thinking to myself “dodged it, he’s just making sure I am sober for work, testing me. coolness!” He then, hands me the paperwork he printed up.
He says “Babes. I am really sorry. I have to let you go. You have been sneaking drinks here, which is theft, and it’s a policy when you were hired that there is absolutely NO drinking on the job.” He then tells me to read the document and sign it. He opens a business “checkbook” and then says, “since I am terminating you, on the day of your shift…..I have to pay you for the shift…….and I actually like you. A lot. I am going to pay you for a full forty hour week, and I am doing this as a favor because I do like you.”
I am reading the document, tears welling up in my eyes. So this is the end. Statements from co-workers stating on dates when they saw me “sneaking” a drink. I tried to plead with him, promise him that it would not happen again. The usual last straws of a drunk and druggie. Lies. Promises that I would not keep.
Harry took off his glasses, leaned on his desk, gently smiled and said “I know now that you lost a decent career at IBM probably due to this same issue I am firing you for now. Look, you’re young…..you are slumming it here at place like this, look…you do good work, and you have potentials….but this is MY business. MY career. MY passion that I built from nothing when I arrived in San Francisco almost 40 years ago. If I let this slide, then I will lose control of this whole place. It is a priveldge to work at this club and for ME. I need people here who are on board 100% with MY vision here in this City. Look, get some help. It’s not too late for you. You have your tip-book / log? Let me see it.” I handed him my tip-book.
Harry carefully looked at my tip log, got out a calculator and got an average of the tips I made during a work week. He then opened his wallet and pulled out 950.00 cash and said “Here, I don’t have to do this either babes, but I like you…I am going to ‘tip’ you out for the work week as well.” He then gave me the check for a weeks worth of work.
He again asked me to sign the document…….more firmly now. I picked up the Cross pen, and signed it.
He then stood up, and asked me for my nametag. I gave it to him.. He shook my hand and again said with sadness, disgust, and a tad of betrayal by me…..”Get some help.” He then motioned for me to leave, I did. He walked behind me. There were no other goodbyes or talk. Outside his office, he locked the door and he got on his cellphone and said “Katie, yeah…call in in Jared immediately to work. I just fired Jason…..well, he had plenty of chances……” and he walked away, didn’t even look back at me. I stood there for a minute or two and left the hotel…………
DId I learn???? Hell no!!! I took that money and went on my final bender. Was out all night, well into the next morning! Blew it all on drink and cocaine. Partied for two days straight. Everything was okay for the next two days! I didn’t need that job……..I would find another one. I would get “serious” and “knuckle down” for a bit…………but really, deep down……I knew it was the end. Even if I got another job, I had zero savings to hold me until money started coming in again like the last time back in 2003. I could liquidate my 401K, but that would take a few weeks to get the check. Rent due, and how would I maintain without the cocaine? The drink? For that matter all the other bills I had been putting off. Laundry? Haircut? What was I going to eat? Yes. The end was here. I had that bender, and I decided it was time to kill myself. Off the Golden Gate Bridge. I would go quickly, only one in a hundread survive that drop…and haven”t I been wanting death for a few years now anyway???? I would destroy my ID, make sure it would be a mystery to what happened to me. I would leave no note. Nobody cared anyway…….I destroyed my ID, bank cards, social security card. I would hock my class ring from graduate school (a gift from my parents back in 1994). I would pay the rent with it……..thus not causing suspicion that I was missing,
Four days after I was fired, I was standing on the rail of the Golden Gate Bridge, mid-span at 3am……………I was gonna just lose my balance and just fall down, down, down……WAY down to the cold murky swirling waters below. Should be easy, the shakes were back. I was siging a Beatles song loudly as I recall (Let It Be)…..the fog was heavy………….the fog horn was beckoning me….daring me to do it…..I was starting to detox bad. Delusional visions………..the shakes….I dry heaved a few times while walking out to the Golden Gate and while on the bridge……….never was good enough……no one to call. It would be weeks until perhaps connections were made that I was gone and the body retrieved from the bay was me…..more than likely my landord at that scuzzy place I was living……the prick! Next month would come, and his insipid puss would come knocking for the rent, he would check the room and it would not have been lived in for almost a month (I left the room spotless, clothing folded, everything in its place)……Police would be called….a small but ineffective investigation would happen……some connection to an unknown body found in the bay, the landlord comes to check it on bequest of the fine folks at the SFPD….he would say “yup that’s him, that’s the drunk a-hole who rented from me” and that would be that. He had my first and last name only….it would be perhaps a few more weeks before any family would find out…..the churning waters far below…..”just let it be, let it bee, yeah!!!!” The random car passing honking its horn. Another car passes, and womans’ voice from car yells “do it!!!! Jump!!!!” I feel sick…….dizzy……..I think I can feel myself about to fall….no, no not yet…..the sound of blood thumping in my ears blots out any other and every sound….pins and needles prickling sensation on my lips, my body is preparing for it. In a few seconds……a minute…..whatever…it’s now all over. World 1. Jason 0.
Read Part 4!