The Odyssey

I have a friend, I’ll call him Jack. We had been doing the same type of construction for many years. He had worked for a couple of my competitors, but each were friendly competitors, so we have been in various joint venture arraignments throughout the years.

Somewhere along the way, due to a divorce or perhaps it was the cause of the divorce, Jack developed a serious cocaine habit. He came to me in the need of employment. His habit had caused him to be let go from his last job.

Not realizing that cocaine addiction couldn’t be cured with compassion and friendship, I hired Jack, thinking he just needed a chance. He is a very bright fellow and I figured that if he wanted to straighten out his life, all he needed was a chance. He was put in a position in the company that required a lot from him.

He did fairly well for a while, it seemed. I watched over him closely knowing his history and that he could slip up. Sure enough at a very critical time when he was needed the most to perform he wasn’t around. It was at a time when we were in the middle of bidding, then negotiating a very large project, one of the largest in the company’s history.

When the people in the office couldn’t contact him one day, they reached out to me. I called his phone and he answered. I could tell there was a problem. He made no sense and the line went dead. I called again and a female voice answered. It was evident she was also strung out, but at some point she indicated to me that Jack wasn’t just high but she thought he had overdosed. Then she hung up and I was unable to get back in touch to find out where they were.

I was at our Leander office. I called 911. I told the lady that took the call what was happening and that my friend appeared to be in bad need of help. I gave her Jack’s phone number. She wanted to help but didn’t really know what to do under the circumstances. He could be anywhere. I suggested that if she could get ahold of the cell company and find out where the phone was located, or the general area, I’d would go find him.

Amazingly she did and within minutes she was able to tell me the phone was last hitting a tower in far south Austin. She gave me the address of that tower. I had figured that with protocol and all the rights to privacy stuff, that a person would never get this type of information. I guess it was the power of persuasion at work. It may have been the power of desperation in my voice.

Within minutes I was on my way to that area of town, which was on the opposite end of the city from where is was. I knew there were only a few motels within a 2 or 3 mile radius of that cell tower. Luckily, the first one I drove to, I pulled around back and saw Jack’s truck. I went to the front desk to inquire as to the room Jack was in. Back to the issue of privacy, I was already expecting a hard time getting the room number. I think when I mentioned that if I didn’t find the room soon they may be hauling a corpse out of that room, the manager made me a key and handed it over. He didn’t even go with me. I guess he didn’t want to take a chance on seeing a dead body. Once again I guess it was the power of persuasion at work again. I wasn’t taking no for an answer.

When I opened the door and entered, the girl had already fled. Jack was in bad shape and just wanted to be left along. A few minutes later we were on our way to an emergency room. I guess it was the power of persuasion at work for the third time that day.

Jack spent the night in the hospital and then was transferred to a rehab facility. I didn’t put him back to work. He went on to find a position with one of my competitors. He made a couple of moves to different companies during the next few years but finally found himself and appears to be doing well now. It’s been more than 18 years and Jack seems to be doing fine. We continue to have our friendship and talk regularly. I wish him the very best.

I’m just thankful that on that day, I got ahold of a 911 dispatcher and a motel manager that had some common sense. Perhaps if they hadn’t, things would have turned out much differently.

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