After I was assessed as “alcoholic,” a couple folks from Northwest Airlines came by to see me. They presented a very clear proposition to me; I had a ‘choice’ to make. I could either fly, or drink, but (now that I had a diagnosis as ‘alcoholic’) I could not do both. Simple.
One of my strengths in life has always been the ability to “read the handwriting on the wall.” In any language. This was very clear for me, and I was really “okay” with it. By then, after 31 years of drinking, I had proved that “Bud Light” could kick my ass. I didn’t need to have any more lessons!
Then they went on to explain that it was Northwest’s polcy to give me 1 relapse – as long as I fessed up. Now I knewi was “good.” As in flying, I knew that when I made a ‘mistake,’ I rarely, if ever, made the same one twice. This policy just gave me a great deal of breathing room.
I didn’t call many folks whilst in treatment, but one I did was Joe D., “Jose A.” Joe was a dear friend from the Air Force. So close that he became “Jose A,” and I was “Jose B.” (You have to know the joke, I suppose.) When I told him of the 1-relapse policy he said, “Holliker, if you think you are going to relapse, give me a call. You were a fucking riot when you drank!” And “Jose A” is one of my closest friends!
I never had to use that “card,” but it was always comforting to know it was there…
Joe and I at the 560th FTS, in 2010.