I am a person who thrives in routine. I really do well when I know what to expect in a situation. If I wake up and get out of the house everyday at 6:50 to go to a meeting then go to work at 9 am then work out afterwards I may get tired and occasionally break routine but for the most part I benefit, even thrive. If I go to a party and you say “look there will be a hundred loud screaming assholes who will run around and bump into you and form a line at the food table faster than an aunt colony as soon as cake is served and they will talk in 8 minute sentences the entire time I will be alright because I knew what to expect. Although the next time I will politely decline and not go to the party. But if I really had to meet whatever social obligation I would be okay, It is unscripted chaos that shakes me.
Maybe that is my big flaw, the big chink in the armor. I put expectations on how people will behave. I have an unspoken list of proper decorum commonly referred to as common decency. Well unfortunately common decency is becoming less common. This is something I have to adjust to and begin to accept as the new normal. I always struggles when standards change and I have to adapt to new rules.
My dad likes to tell a story he likes to refer to as The driveway rules. When I was a kid like 8years old, I suppose, we had these neighbors with a basketball hoop on their driveway and they invited me to play basketball with them. I was expecting that we would play like they do in the NBA the same basic rules. You know, you cant just run for like 12 steps to the basket without dribbling you can’t dribble the ball with two hands or dribble,stop and then dribble again and then just run like crazy and huck the ball at the basket. You cant hit the guy with the ball until he drops it, normal human being adult type basketball. This is what I had watched, these were the rules and this is what I expected. Well, being that we were 8 the kids were doing what kids do with the aforementioned hitting,double dribble and traveling thing. I was trying to call fouls and violations the whole time going ape that they weren’t following the rules and I was just livid. I left and went back home literally 20 feet across the street. I explained to my dad that they didn’t follow the NBA rules(to be fair nobody was watching the NBA in 1980) My dad in a way that only my dad could explain said that they were playing by driveway rules. I asked “what’s driveway rules?” He explained that it’s their driveway and they make up their own rules. Fair enough, sort of.
I understand that if it is your game you get to make up your own rules. But my question is this “How the fuck was I supposed to know what the rules were?” Why did nobody tell me this? We were kids, I know, I can’t quite possibly expect that level of communication from a bunch of kids. The problem is when adults do the same thing, they play by their own rules and don’t have the decency to at least warn you of the new rules.
It is dawning on me that when it comes to AA meetings we are now going to be playing by new rules. About 2 years ago at the beginning of a meeting we would always say “please turn your cell phones off” at the beginning of the meeting. Every meeting there would 1 person who wouldn’t and their phone would ring and they would be embarassed and run out of the room. Well fast forward and we no longer expect people to turn off their cell phone. People are on the phones all the time. Not talking, mind you but nonetheless giving the appearance that they have no interest in listening to you spill your guts out or talk about how you want to drink or who in your family just died or how you are suicidal or depressed or lost your job or whatever it is. It is just accepted that people will bury their head in their phones when you are talking about very personal stuff.
I am really having a hard time with this new reality. In my head there is a common decency that needs to be exhibited. If you are speaking and boring the heck out of me, I stay quiet, I look your way every so often and I start thinking about what basketball game is on tv tonight. I am courteous enough to at least look like I give a shit right. I guess I am going to have to accept this new reality. People will look at their cell phones and not just for a minute or two but in many instances for the entire meeting. If I can convince myself that these are the new accepted rules then I will be okay.
I was at one meeting though when the secretary of the meeting, the one we call the trusted servant was on his cell phone the whole time. I don’t think I can ever get to the point where that is acceptable to me. It is one thing to check your phone for a few seconds but to head the meeting and be on your cell the entire time just irks me. If that becomes the new norm I think I will become convinced that God has it in for me and just enjoys surrounding me with a special set of assholes.