12 Steps is a contemporary novel of addiction, recovery and the social cost of substance abuse treatment.
It's a novel about redemption. And failure.
A story of small mistakes, smaller victories and the unintended consequences of decisions made in the name of emotional health.
It is a novel without car chases.
In his lifetime, Ray had done a number of things for which he was not proud, things he’d like to see just as well stuffed down a dark hole. Everybody had things of which they were ashamed. Everybody has committed their share of sins that they wish they could take back. But this wasn’t one of them, and he resented the implication that it was—the implication that someone would dare to judge him for something they did not fully understand.
It was a good thing, a right thing, like the time he had given emergency CPR to the woman already ten minutes dead and gone, the woman whose mouth tasted of chocolate death and scrambled eggs, just to spare her horrified children the sense of helplessness while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. That had been a noble thing like this one was. Should have been.
Perhaps it was always less difficult to have things fail here, with the living, than it was with the dead. The dead had no opinions, no agendas. They weren’t sensitive. The dead did what you ******* told them to do and didn’t complain. Right?
The living simply did not understand that there were rules. They didn’t want to understand something so banal. Someone who didn’t take the time to understand the rules had no right to pass judgment on him. Not that it ever stopped them.
“I hear that you are unhappy,” he said into the phone, then had to pull the receiver away from his ear so the woman on the other end could scream at him some more.
Conflict de-escalation technique number one was invariably affirmation. Make it clear that you are aware of the individual’s feelings and frustrations, that you are at least listening to their side, whether or not you personally may eventually have the authority to validate or alleviate those feelings. People liked to be listened to. The illusion of having a voice was almost as good as actually having one. Isn’t that why people still bothered to go to the polls on election day and vote?
And it worked on most people. This woman was not one of them.
“Your anger is perfectly appropriate in this situation. In your shoes, I would be livid.”
Advancing to commiseration now, crafting his voice so she would believe he was giving the **** which he in fact was not. This was much more than conflict de-escalation technique number two, it was what people commonly called professionalism.
“Really, hey, I understand. I do. I’m on your side on this one, but as I said previously, we are a medical facility. I have both a legal and ethical obligation to protect the confidentiality of our clients. Federal law prohibits me from divulging any information regarding or even confirming or denying the existence of the individual to whom you have made reference.”
Blah, blah, blah.
The co-lineation of the words “federal law” and any following set of polysyllables usually worked when all else failed, giving the caller the distinct impression of the big rock (prosecution, six figure fines and termination) and the hard place (i.e. the caller’s desire to get him to ignore the consequences of the big ******* rock) between which he was caught.
Lawyers were the exception, of course, as they daily circumvented both the federal law part and others’ deterrent polysyllables. Ray preferred not to talk to lawyers whenever possible.