by Jen Smith.
Myself, my honey and two other couples were milling around on a street corner in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was hot, but enjoyably hot, at least for me. I really can’t speak for the others, although no one was complaining about it so that was a good sign. Across the street was the harbor where we’d be boarding our cruise ship when it arrived tomorrow. The light pastel colored buildings, old Spanish style houses, clean streets and well maintained greenery made for a pleasant back drop to the street corner. I wasn’t feeling pleasant however. I was quite grumpy.
We had come to the street corner in hopes of catching a tran-type vehicle that picks up tourists then wisps them around the little historical town of Old San Juan, only to find that the tran ride ended at 6:00. It was 6:20. There goes that idea. Having recently arrived in town, checked into our hotel, accomplished the consumption of the much sought after pork chop, we were all out of ideas about what to do next.
My grumpiness and discomfort gave me an idea. I needed an AA meeting. Having been in San Juan about six months earlier, I was familiar with the local meeting schedule. I happen to know there was a 7:00 meeting a cab ride away from the street corner we continued to inhabit. I pulled out my cell phone to get more details on the meeting’s where-a-bouts.
“Anyone want to go to a meeting?” I asked the sleepy, overfed, motley crew that were my traveling companions. “There’s one not far from her that starts at 7:00.” I added.
“Sure I’ll go to a meeting,” chimed in Bill. He was a given, he’s always up for a meeting. His mate nodded in agreement.
The other couple talked amongst themselves few a few and then one said, “We are going to head back to our room and relax, you kids have fun, see you in the morning for breakfast.” With that they left the street corner and headed back towards the hotel.
I scanned the surrounding area and to my delight noticed a few taxis parked along the roadside across the way bordering the harbor. “There are taxis over there,” I pointed. “I have the address on my phone. The area where the meeting is might be challenging as far as finding a taxi ride back, but we’ll figure it out.”
The four of us left the street corner with purpose. I had hope that a meeting might help me with my grumpiness, I led the pack, phone in hand, ready to assert me intention. A good looking man walked out from between two taxis and looked my way, acknowledging my intent. I blurted out my instructions pushing my phone in his view not knowing if he spoke English but just went for it.
“The Coradado Club?” he questioned in perfect English. He paused. I wrongly interpreted this pause as his trying to recall the address. “The Coranado Club?” He repeated.
“Yes, can you take us there? Do you know where that is?” I asked.
“That’s my home group,” said the taxi driver in a matter of fact tone. Wow! Did I just hear him right? My dumbfounded look caused him to clarify further.
“Yes, that’s my home group. I’ve been a member since before we even had that nice new location. We used to be in the church basement around the corner from there.”
How cool, I thought in delight. Then the cab driver continued, “I can’t take you there but this guy over here can.” The taxi driver motioned to us to follow and he opened a taxi door one cab down. He spoke to the driver in Spanish informing him where to take us, then he turned back to me and handed me his card. “My name is Julio. Be sure to call me when the meeting is over and I will come and pick you up.” Fantastic, I thought. There goes my concern about the ride home.
We piled into the taxi and where on our way. “To the Coranado Club,” said the driver in broken English. “I tried that AA thing,” this new cab driver confessed, “It didn’t work.”
I chuckled to myself as Bill coerced the driver to explain. As the two carried on a conversation I relished in the wonderful abundance of happening across a taxi driver who, not only was in AA, but whose home group was the group we were trying to go to. When we arrived at the meeting club house, we walked in and were greeted by a large man with dreads and a warm smile.
“You guys must be Julio’s friends,” I’m sure my smile gave it away that he was right. “Julio just called and told me to make sure you guys call him after the meeting so he can come pick you up.”
I reached out my hand to great this man as I promised, “Of course we will.”
~Taken care of once again by the long reaching loving arms of Alcoholic Anonymous.