Ask ten people their definition of sobriety and I’ll bet 10 of them say “not drinking.” But that’s not entirely accurate. In fact, sobriety is so much more.

In the spring of 2008 I had been living without alcohol for about a year and a half when one morning I decided to go to an AA meeting in nearby Stamford, Connecticut. I liked early meetings, and this one was scheduled for 7 am, so I was looking forward to meeting some new people and getting a fresh start on a new day.

I had never been to this particular meeting, nor the church where it was to be held, so I wanted to arrive early and make sure I could find a parking spot and the meeting room. I located the church and was driving around the block looking for a place to park when I saw a Citibank branch with a big empty parking lot. Perfect! There was a sign that said “Parking for Bank Customers Only” but the bank didn’t open until 9 and it was 6:45 so I figured it was safe. I parked and went in to the meeting.

I don’t remember too much about the meeting because when I came out, I was stunned to see that my car was gone! I looked at the sign again and there, on the bottom, in teeny, weeny, microscopic letters it said “Unauthorized vehicles…etc etc” and there was the name of a towing company: Satan’s Towing, I think it was. I called, and the man said “Yep, we got it,” and so I asked for directions how to recover my precious baby blue Buick as I tried not to call him lots of very bad names. I asked how much and he said “$85.00. Cash.”

Now, it was apparent this was an evil towing company scam, and the old Bob would have argued with the towing company, the bank manager, the police, the mayor, the minister at the church, and I would have cursed God for my terrible luck. I would have had a mental meltdown and used this vicious personal attack as an excuse to get totally drunk and blow off the whole day. I would have told everyone in the bar that it wasn’t my fault!

The truth is, it was my fault. I wasn’t a Citibank customer, and I didn’t belong in that parking lot. I called my brother and asked him if he might be able to come and give me a ride to the tow lot. He was busy at work and couldn’t come and he asked what I was going to do. I thought about it and said, “Well, I have money in my bank account, it’s a beautiful morning, the tow lot is about 2 miles away, so I guess I’ll get some exercise and go get my car back.”

My brother replied, “It looks like you’re really getting sober now, Bob.”

As I walked to the ATM and then the towing company I thanked God that I had $85.00 in my account, the old Bob was always overdrawn. I also thanked Him for my sobriety, which I was only beginning to understand. Truly I was experiencing a transformation, a gift, that was unexpected and undeserved. I liked it!

The gift of sobriety is available to anyone and everyone who is willing to do some hard work and then enjoy the benefits. I assure you it will be your most cherished possession once you accept it. On your journey you will learn that being sober includes accepting responsibility for your actions, being honest, asking God for help, and helping others.

A few weeks ago I went to meet someone in an unfamiliar area of town and I looked for parking. There was a Citibank lot wide open, with no signs, but I drove a few blocks further and found a metered spot. I put the receipt in my pocket and walked to meet my friend. Better safe, and sober, than sorry. It was a beautiful spring morning.

If someone reads this story and thinks “maybe I’ll give this sobriety thing a try” and actually gets sober, then that means that a tow-truck driver in Connecticut saved someone’s life. Try not to question God’s plan. He loves you, just accept that.

If you are struggling in life and you think that alcohol might be a contributing factor, get some answers from people who have been in your shoes and understand. Google “aa meetings near me” and go to a meeting. They are free.