My discombobulated, alcoholic mind had made its decision; I was going to pack it up in two months after saving some cash and head to Tahoe. In order to accomplish this, I was going to have to stop drinking as much and stick to a diet of almost starving myself. My daily activities consisted of waking up, traveling to and from work, getting on the internet at night to talk to Stephanie, and then going to sleep. Instead of drinking every night, I cut back to getting completely drunk 2 nights a week. Basically I would drink in order to keep my body from going through withdrawals.
It is a pretty bad state when you are drinking in order to allow your body to feel normal; it shows the true dependency you have on alcohol. What was worse, I truly thought that I could quit at any time and thought it was not a problem because I was “a functioning alcoholic”. Guess what? All that means is that your environment tolerates your behavior for one reason or another. While working in Costa Rica, utilizing half my brain was all that was required (and I was still more productive than most of my co-workers). Add in the fact that in Costa Rica, getting drunk or high is just an accepted part of life. It is in the “Pura Vida” attitude. In essence, this means as long as you do not screw up too badly people do not care what you do.
A funny thing happened when I stopped the Spring Break binge drinking I had been doing for almost a year. I started to think a little more clearly. Questions started to pop into my mind about my decision to follow this woman to Tahoe. Did I really want to be with someone that would go to the extremes of hitting me (more than once) while we were drunk because of silly arguments? Did I really want to be with someone that thought “I was cool because I had a lot of sex in college”? Did I want to be with someone that had 2 kids from 2 different guys….meaning if we had a child she would be 3 for 3? Did I want to be with someone that had the intelligence and maturity level of a 6th grader? The answer to all these questions was a resounding-no.
However, I did think that getting out of Costa Rica was the right decision. I kept thinking to myself that unless I get out of this environment, it is going to kill me. I would never accomplish anything in life if I stayed in “the land where dreams come to die” as a friend of mine once said.
I am an independent person and rarely want help, but in order to move to the USA I needed a few things in place. I needed a job and a place to stay. With those 2 things I could go from there. I had begun talking to an old girlfriend from college and we spoke almost every night. It was nice to talk to someone that cared about me instead of being berated for not being enough. She had offered me the ability to stay at her place until I got back on my feet. With all the flirting we were doing back in forth it was probably going to be more, but all that was left unsaid. With a place to stay pretty much wrapped up, I needed to focus on employment.
Believe it or not, even with all my drinking (not at work) the US based company I was working for loved me! I knew exactly how to play their power game and say the right things to make the work environment productive. I learned these methods in military school. Almost every interaction is a game and is about figuring out the best method to get what you want and make the other people involved think that it was their decision. This was probably why I was so good at sales; I would lead the potential client down the sales funnel without them even knowing what I was doing. It is an art and only a few people are truly able to do this. I do not mean to sound egotistical but those around me I have worked with will say the same thing. I am one of the best salesmen they have every worked with.
I began laying the seeds for the current company that I was working for on this campaign to give me employment in the USA. Through phone conversations I had with the regional representative for whom I was directly working with, had stated they were not happy with the production of our group with one exception – me. The contract that they had signed was to pay 3 people to work full time on their project which required setting appointments with C-level employees at hospitals. What they received was my manager Steve who would make about 3 calls a day to “show us how it was done”. The guy I worked next to who did not have any kind of “killer instinct”. He would get about 2 appointments a week for his regional manager which would end up being canceled because he did not develop rapport with the client. Then there was me. I was setting and actually completing between 3 and 4 appointments per week. They were not happy with the production and were going to pull the plug when the contract was over.
My regional manager and I began speaking outside of work when I would get home. We could not speak in the office because all calls were recorded and all key strokes monitored. If a murder had ever happened in that office, CSI would not have had a problem solving it. She wanted me to continue working directly for her and wanted to bring me into the company. After a couple of weeks she had arranged to bring me on board and the only thing that needed to be sorted out was the salary which would be talked about in 2 weeks. I thought it was all coming together.
It was the end of the month and I was supposed to send the $2,500 I had made to Tahoe for Stephanie to “save it for us.” I talked to a couple of guys at work who I had kind of become friends with, Greg and Bobby. (The only reason I mention their names is because Greg comes up again later in this story) Both of these guys said the same thing that I was feeling….”Do not send the money! You will never see it again.” So instead of sending the entire amount, I just sent about $400 to cover the phone bill that she had run up at her mom’s house from calling me. When she heard that I had only sent $400.00 she yelled at me and told me that she did not want to talk to me for a while. Thanks Stephanie for confirming my decision!
To celebrate my life going in a new direction I decided it was time for a celebration. I had won the bottle of alcohol again from work that week. The large bottle of Absolut Vodka was going to wash away everything. I celebrated for two days by binge drinking (where I actually needed to go buy more alcohol), Sidebar to you readers: If you are going through more than a full bottle of Absolut alone in one weekend, you have a problem! I was drunk and had made my daily meal of Ramen noodles on Sunday night. Later that night I woke up half drunk, I stumbled partially awake down the stairs which were a little wet due to the fact that it was the rainy season and my umbrella was for some reason in the upstairs bedroom. About 5 steps from the bottom with a glass bowl of cold Ramen in my hand, I slipped and went head first into the bowl shattering the glass on the tile floor and landing very awkwardly on my side. I switched on the light to find a lot of blood and began to laugh. The only thought going through my mind was that in the morning I was going to feel that.
The next morning at 5 a.m., I noticed a large hematoma on my back on the right side of my torso. Also, I had a nice cut under my eye where I had face planted into the bowl and my entire body ached. This seemed like a good time to call in sick to work. I had some calls to make and honestly did not feel like being seen like this until I cleaned myself up, and a shower alone was not going to do the trick.
On Tuesday I headed to work in pain but was just trying to make it through the day. I had a call that evening to sort out my salary and possibly have the US company pay for relocation. Everyone at worked laughed at my new self-inflicted wounds, but I could tell something was wrong. I felt dizzy all day like blood was not getting to my brain. I rushed to the bus stop to get back to Atenas feeling weak and had a severe pain in my leg while waiting for the bus to arrive. I got on the bus and headed to the back to sit down. My mind was telling me there was something seriously wrong and I was having trouble breathing….the pain continued to get worse.
About 20 minutes outside of Atenas I could not do it any more, I had even tried lying down in the isle of the bus to keep from fainting, but it was not working. I knew that there was a pharmacy in this town and I needed to get there. I pulled the chord to get the bus driver to stop and exited. With my laptop strapped across my shoulder I began walking the 300 meters to the nearest pharmacy. After about 15 meters, a sharp pain hit my leg. It felt like someone was grabbing and squeezing my calf muscle and trying to crush it or pull it off. I collapsed, unable to walk. The afternoon brought drizzling rain. I was able to motion to a police officer across the street to come over to me. I told him to please call me an ambulance, which for some reason took some convincing. He finally unwillingly went back across the street to call the Cruz Roja for me.
I sat there alone grasping clumps of grass around me writhing in pain as I began to become drenched in the light rain. I pushed myself up one more time to try to walk only to collapse again on the ground. As I waited for the ambulance and the police officer to return, only one thought was entering my mind…”This is how it all ends…on the side of a road in Costa Rica.”