The Cop at the Meeting – Larry H_ Lifeline Nov 2019

My name’s Larry and I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been going to meetings for the entire 27 years I’ve been sober, and I want to share a story about one of my all-time favorites. A few months ago, a group mostly in early sobriety started a late-night meeting at 11:15 p.m. on Friday nights at Fellowship Hall. I dutifully drove to the first one, willing to show up for them, but I thought they should be ashamed of themselves for dragging a guy my age out that late. But it was a great meeting. What I saw and heard and felt was a whole bunch of young people who’ve been down some of the hard roads the world throws at us these days, and they were working their way back to good and decent lives through a real passion for sobriety and recovery.
God, how I love that passion. Partly because it helps me to keep feeling it for myself. I walked out grateful that I’d gone. I’ve been going ever since.
A couple of Fridays ago, there were four police cars in the parking lot, right in back of the big circle of chairs we set up outdoors. I quickly found out that the cops were there to take care of a mentally ill person who needed help. Their presence had nothing to do with the meeting, which went merrily on its way with birthdays. As if we weren’t surrounded by cops. But when the cops had taken care of business, they kind of loitered around. They just kind of sort of didn’t seem to want to leave. I think they wanted to hear the birthdays.
But finally, three cars pulled away. The last one started up, drove a few feet and stopped for a minute, like the cop was debating himself. Then he turned off the engine and got out of the car and walked over to the chairs. I was sitting there watching this armed, uniformed, on-duty cop coming over to join us. First time I’ve ever seen that in a meeting. He was a tall, gray-haired guy in his fifties. He put his hands on the back of an empty chair and listened. When someone finished sharing, he slowly, almost timidly, raised his hand, as if he didn’t know if it was okay to intrude. When he got a nod, he said that he’d been in law enforcement for 32 years and he’d seen all the destruction caused by alcohol and drugs, and he just wanted to share with us how much he admired and respected everyone here, and what we’re doing for ourselves and our community. He said, and I quote: “You inspire me and give me hope.” You could have heard a pin drop in that parking lot. I will never forget his last line to my gang of young pals. Quote: “You guys are the ones who will get me through my shift tonight.” And he turned and walked away, like Gary Cooper in “High Noon.”
It was a great moment. It certainly got me through my shift that night.
-Larry D.

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