An Exception to the Rule


I remember working at the Kemps Ice Cream plant in Rochester for roughly a year.  Possibly significantly more or less, I have no idea.

I worked in the wrapper room.  Seven lines of different flavors, brands, and styles would come through a Plexiglas wall from the production line and into one of the various machines to be individually wrapped, then bundled in four or six packs, then shrink-wrapped together before going into the deep freeze for several hours.

I worked a machine called an Amerio.  Sort of a recycling freezer.  31 levels high, the ice cream would be pushed in from the front and out the back came the now frozen bricks onto a conveyer belt that flowed down to a separate room for wrapping.

I worked with a guy I’ll call Bill.  Often we worked 12 hour shifts in the summer time.  We got to know each other pretty well.  We joked around a lot, had some serious conversations, and once we even went out for a beer (just after I had started drinking again after five years sober).

Very shortly after that I lost my job and never saw or talked to him again.

Years later, while looking at the Olmsted County Sherriff’s Office In Custody roster online, looking for anybody I knew in the meth world, I saw his name.  Just below his name was a charge that even criminals despise.

It turns out Bill had a fairly long standing relationship with a 12 year old girl.  The police had letters he had written to her, and her to him, describing, in too much detail, their love.

I sit here now and am a little upset that I ever spoke to him, not that I knew anything about it.  I would like to write a lot more about it but I can’t.  I will someday, when my mail won’t be read before it’s sent out.

I had a one-on-one with my CD counselor just a moment ago.  We talked for a half hour about my worries and wants and my thoughts about employment upon release.  His advice, go out and live life.  He said he had full confidence that I would be good at being sober, but he wanted me to go out and be a good person.

Then he threw me a curve-ball.  He thought I could make a great CD counselor within five years, by which time I would have gotten my Bachelor’s in Social Work and then on to a LADC or something like that.  I tend to daydream and space out a lot even if they are really important.  But he made me feel like I was really capable of doing something with my life, even if it takes a while.  So, I have that going for me.

Today our squad had our re-entries.  What’s that?  Where we go into a room and one by one we talk to our CD counselor and case manager.  It’s really scary for the people that have not been doing any hard work.  All my counselor said to my caseworker was, “He’s doing exceptional work, and he facilitates the NA meeting on Friday nights.  No worries.”  She smiled (nobody has seen her smile) and told me I was also the exception to the rule on her end.  I have been approved to move to St. Paul upon my release!  No more worries.  I was the only one in my squad to be approved so far.

[ANNE: I felt nervous when I read that last paragraph.  I say I’m not superstitious but I am a Midwesterner, and we have superstitions that go like this: 1) “Never saying anything good about yourself because you’ll sound like a braggart, and everyone will look askance at you but not say anything” or 2) “Never say anything optimistic because that will immediately bring back luck down on you.”  Or was it that I’ve known a lot of addicts and alcoholics, and they tend to be Janus faced in many ways—in this case grandiose today and ripping themselves to shreds the next?  In know!—I think I’ll just be proud of how well he’s doing.]

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