How a group of friends from Alcoholics Anonymous gave her the strength she needed.
- Posted on Oct 2, 2019
One thing we agreed on that crisp fall Sunday was that our supper had to be topped off with fresh, homemade pumpkin pie. It would be the only proper ending for the day we had in mind.
“Pumpkin pie is nonnegotiable,” I said, laughing as we drove along a winding country road in the car we had rented back in New York City. We had come upstate to see the brilliant colors of the changing foliage, and we had not been disappointed. Tony, Phil and I had met several years earlier in an Alcoholics Anonymous group in the city. Back then we were new to AA. Together we had found sobriety and learned how to ask God for help. From time to time we liked to get together outside AA to share the new direction God was giving our lives.
But on this day our own sense of direction was far from perfect, for during the amiable debate over what, when and where our old-fashioned country meal would be, we got lost. As the driver, I was being held responsible, and unfortunately the rental car had not come equipped with a New York State road map.
“Maybe God wants to guide us after all,” concluded Tony with a chuckle, trying to get me off the hook.
“It’s obviously out of your hands,” chided Phil, tapping me on the shoulder from the backseat.
Eventually we did come to a little inn. We were ushered to a table in the dining room, where a fire crackled in the fireplace, and paintings of George Washington adorned the walls. We agreed that this was exactly what we had had in mind. And they advertised fresh pumpkin pie.
“Something from the bar, gentlemen?” inquired our young waitress. She seemed nervous. Maybe it’s her first day on the job, I thought.
“A round of Cokes,” Tony said. We nodded our approval. The waitress smiled.
Over appetizers we joked about how important food had become for us in sobriety. “After my first year of not drinking,” remarked Phil, “my taste buds came back. Now if I want a drink, I pick up a pizza instead.”
Our waitress hovered around the table, cleaning ashtrays we had not used and filling our water glasses after nearly every sip. This had to be her first day or something, I thought again.
Finally she left us to devour our dinner of roast duck and almond chicken, wild rice and steamed vegetables. As soon as our plates were cleared, we were ready for that pumpkin pie. But our waitress shook her head sadly. The last of the lot had just been served.
“We have great apple pie, homemade pecan pie, Indian pudding ... ”
It was no use. We really wanted pumpkin pie. The way we groaned you would have thought we had just been informed that pumpkins were suddenly extinct. Without a word, the waitress turned on her heel and left. We sat sheepishly stirring our coffee.
“Don’t tell anyone,” she whispered a few minutes later as she put three pieces of pumpkin pie before us.
“The cooks were saving these for themselves, but I talked them out of it. I told them it was important.”
“Thanks,” I muttered self-consciously, now rather embarrassed.
“No, thank you,” she said, smiling warmly. “You guys don’t know what you’ve done for me today.” We looked bewildered, then she came closer. “I’m in AA too. I’m new at it and it’s been pretty tough. I’ve just been trying to hang on. All day I’ve been praying and praying for strength, and asking God to tell me everything’s going to be all right, that I don’t have to pick up a drink. Then out of nowhere you guys appear and a table just happens to open up in my section.” She paused to catch her breath. “Just when I was feeling lost, you found me. Thanks.” And then she was off to another table.
We were silent for a while. There it was again, another example of how God is always there to show us the way when we ask for directions. And sometimes when we don’t. We cut into our pie. I wasn’t surprised to find it was the best pumpkin pie I had ever tasted.
This story first appeared in the December 1996 issue of Guideposts magazine.