Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Hungry am I?

“So an M.I.T. graduate with a PhD in Bimolecular Engineering is not "too good" to work at McDonalds?”

This comment was left in response to a blog I wrote a few months ago after one of our clients said he wouldn’t work at a Macdonald’s restaurant.

The point of my blog was if one of our clients is unemployed then any job will do until something better comes along. Food and shelter is our primary obligation. If we can’t take care of ourselves, who will?

A major challenge for alcoholics is dealing with ego. An education is great. But if I can't take care of myself, can't pay my bills, then what good is it at the moment? We have some clients who ignore the realities of today’s job market. They'll say "I'm used to making $23 an hour." Or "I'm not taking an entry-level job." Hello! Those $23 an hour jobs are being filled by people with degrees, people hungry enough to push aside pride and ego and do whatever it takes to make a living.

Our disease tells us we deserve better. We worked hard for our education; therefore we have something coming from the world. But the basic purpose of work and employment is to provide food and shelter. Oh yes, education and degrees provide some evidence of who we are. But if we can't feed ourselves, humm...

When we can’t find the job we want we know how to feel better right now. A bottle. A spoon. A crack pipe. These provide us with immediate gratification. We’ll have a shield against a world that doesn't understand how educated and important we are – a world that doesn't recognize we deserve a better job than schlepping food at McDonald's or Wendy's.

In the meantime can someone loan me some money for a Happy Meal?