An Employer’s Oversight

Because of the employee’s special ability, or of his own strong personal attachment to him, the employer has sometimes kept an alcoholic at work long beyond a reasonable period.

An officer of one of the largest banking institutions in America knows I no longer drink. One day he told me about an executive of the same bank who, from his description, was undoubtedly alcoholic. This seemed to me like an opportunity to be helpful, so, I spent two hours talking about alcoholism, the malady, and described the symptoms and results as well as I could. His comment was, “Very interesting. But I’m sure this man is done drinking. He has just returned from a three months leave of absence, has taken a cure, looks fine, and to clinch the matter, the board of directors told him this was his last chance.”

The only answer I could make was that if the man followed the usual pattern, he would go on a bigger bust than ever. I felt this was inevitable and wondered if the bank was doing the man an injustice. Why not bring him into contact with some of our alcoholic crowd? He might have a chance. I pointed out that I had nothing to drink whatever for three years, and this in the face of difficulties that would have made nine out of ten men drink their heads off. Why not at least afford him an opportunity to hear my story? “Oh no,” said my friend, “this chap is either through with liquor, or he is minus a job. If he has your will power and guts, he will make the grade.”

I wanted to throw up my hands in discouragement, for I saw that I had failed to help my banker friend understand. He simply could not believe that his brother-executive suffered from a serious illness. There was nothing to do but wait.

Presently the man did slip and was fired. Following his discharge, we contacted him. Without much ado, he accepted the principles and procedure that had helped us. He is undoubtedly on the road to recovery. To me, this incident illustrates lack of understanding as to what really ails the alcoholic, and lack of knowledge as to what part employers might profitably take in salvaging their sick employees.

Reprinted from the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, page #136-137, with permission of AA World Services, Inc.

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DNA Newspaper Mumbai Edition Published Date: Dec 25, 2012

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