Doing my bit

It’s the birthday week of the founder of the charity that I work for, so to celebrate all staff have been out fundraising. We were asked to think of creative ways of making money; my manager came up with the idea of having a cake sale. Perhaps not the most original idea, but it seemed guaranteed to raise some funds. In the morning I helped her set up stall in the road outside the office. I wasn’t looking forward to the day – I’d have to stand there for at least an hour selling cakes, and I’ve never considered myself a salesman. It felt like one of those Apprentice episodes they always have at the beginning of the series, where the candidates’ selling skills are put to the test on this kind of challenge. A cold breeze blew past us, never letting up, and it seemed destined to be a slog.

The road was busy in the morning and my manager was very good at catching the attention of passers by. Knowing I ought to make some effort, I studied what she was doing and soon I was doing it myself. Nearly every other passer by seemed to have a hankering for cake. Some colleagues in the office had baked especially for the occasion, others (myself included) had just bought what they could find at the local supermarket, and we were well stocked for the day. Pretty soon slices of banana loaf and fruit cake were flying off the table, and we were doing a lot better than predicted.

Other teammates took over selling duties after lunch so I could go inside and resume my normal job. I was glad to be back in the warm, though as I watched the team spirit in full flow outside I kind of wanted to be back out there. At the end of the day when we cracked open the buckets we were delighted to learn that together we had made over £200. Result! Although I could be sure I had only contributed a small part of that, it felt good. It had been a good day all around. We had worked together and done something worthwhile. That money will go to what is unequivocally a good cause. It’s nothing to do with profit, it really means something. I had sort of enjoyed talking to people in the street, something you’d never normally find me doing; and it had been nice to feel part of a real team all day. None of the cold atmosphere that was there before I went to America was there yesterday. Apparently that’s in the past, since P got over whatever was bothering her.


The home group was nice to go to last night, after such a nice day. It’s always nice to go to, but particularly so yesterday. I guess I’ve been back ‘in’ AA for eighteen months now, and I feel more solid as a person the longer this regular routine of meetings continues. I could have felt a bit shaky without my sponsor there last night: he’s away at the moment, and later in the year he still plans to move away permanently, so going to the meeting alone is something to get used to. When he’s away it’s a reminder that I need to learn to stand on my own two feet there, and trust the rest of the meeting’s attendees fully. By trust I refer to something deeply personal, a feeling that leads to security and fellowship with others, the opposite of isolation. I did my best with it last night, making an extra effort to talk to people, when I was tempted to sit at the back and mourn the absence of the person who brought me into the meeting last year.

Soon I face the choice of whether to volunteer myself for the position of secretary or not. R’s tenure comes up in two weeks. Everyone would agree it’s been a successful tenure. He’s the best kind of person to have as secretary. It’s a shame it has to end, but the tradition of commitments only lasting a year is strong. When the impending vacancy was announced a few weeks ago I felt unexpectedly inclined to put myself forward. I say it was unexpected because at one time I didn’t think I’d ever want to be secretary in an AA meeting again. Doing this wouldn’t just tie me to the meeting for another year, it would mean I’m really back in the fellowship, committed to it without any reservations. Although I decided at the end of 2015 that I wasn’t going to go through life without a program any more, that I was ready to relinquish my doubts once and for all and throw myself back in, there wasn’t an overnight return to service positions. I’ve taken my time with them, allowing myself to settle into meetings before putting my hand up for jobs, because I didn’t want to rush into responsibility without knowing I was really ready for it. I specifically didn’t want what happened in 2012 to happen again, when I had so many commitments I stopped seeing the point of them.

There’s no danger of me taking on too many commitments this time. I only have one other at the moment, and I don’t want more than two. I feel reluctance about going for the secretaryship at my home group because it’s such a visible role, I’d have to be my best self every week, and it’s an important meeting to steer. There are a lot of newcomers that go there, people who need to see a good example at the front of the room. Could I really set a good example week after week for a whole year? People may say I already do that when I go every week, but this feels like a big step up.

I want to do it because a part of me (maybe it’s the ‘recovery’ part) feels I ought to keep giving back to the meeting, and this would be the perfect opportunity. I’ve been secretary before at plenty of meetings, it’s not exactly hard to read out a script. Sourcing chairs would be hard, as you’re always having to deal with people saying ‘no’. I think I could deal with that now. It’s really the visibility of the position that scares me, as well as the fact that I’m not the only person interested in it.

Somehow people have figured out that I’m interested and they keep asking me if I’m going to put my hand up at the group conscience in two weeks. I only told two people, but it looks like one of them’s let the cat out of the bag because more than two people know now. It’s nice that people have enough faith in me to give me the encouragement. It would be lovely to think I’m really ready to do this for a year. Well, of course I’m ready. I’ve been ready for a long time. Sadly it will mean going up against people I like; the group would have to vote on who they want. We’d have to have our own mini election! I’ve never competed for a service position before, so that could be an interesting experience. Ahh, life in AA.


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