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Notes from a United Auto Worker photo

The first time I got drunk I was on a family vacation with my dad, my stepmom, and two brothers. My dad and stepmom were already three quarters in the bag at dinnertime and they were going out to party w a bunch of my dad’s friends from the factory because they were also on vacation down there (Florida). I was sitting in the condo with my brothers, Scott and Tom, and Tom was going out on a date so it was only gonna be me and Scott. As my stepmother was walking out the door to join my father at the party, she made a comment to Scott - something aabout “have a good night” and Scott said something back, shitty, like, “Well, we know what you guys are gonna be doin all night,” and she paused with one foot out the door already, turned her head to reply to Scott, and says, “You can each have two beers.” I was twelve and Scott was thirteen and Scott had had beers before. I drank my two beers and then three or four more really fast. And then we each had a little bit of vodka. I continued to drink and me and Scott went for a walk and smoked some cigarettes and I remember feeling the buzz for the first time and being happy and feeling good and I turned to Scott and asked him “how long does this last?” and he goes “you’ll feel like this all night.” I got excited and I said “this is awesome” and I did feel like that all night and I woke up with a headache in the morning.


I started work at the auto plant a week after I graduated high school (1999). My dad worked there and my older brother also worked there but I never seen them cuz there were thousands of people who worked there and I was on afternoon shift and they worked day shift. My dad got my brother a job there six or seven years before this, before I started, and then my brother married his wife - his father-in-law was the president of our local union - and he is the one who got me in. Tom asked his father-in-law to get me a job there. Dad got Tom in and Tom got me in. Back then you had to know someone who worked there to get a job there, and, to an extent, the same thing today. Where else could you go, an 18 year old kid with a high school education, and make 100k a year. That place was like a little city. Everything you wanted you could get there. There was bookies. Loan sharks. Two full cafeterias that served as restaurants. Any and all drugs you could possibly think of, and even prostitutes. There was a man who used to run a brothel out of his campervan in the parking lot ‘til he got busted. The first day I was on the plant floor, my boss was showing me how to do the job. I was working on a hand crank press, which, we pressed a rubber boot onto a drive shaft. The way that works, the press operated, there was a giant metal pirate ship wheel looking thing, and you would spin it, and the press would go down and push the boot onto the drive shaft. Well, there was two of these kind of presses in a row, right next to each other, one in front of the other. There was a guy working on the press directly in back of me, and when my boss was showing me how to do the job, he kind of pushed me out of the way so he could put a part in and show me how to work it, and when he did that, the guy in the back of me spun his giant pirate wheel and it spun around and smacked me on the top of the head, cracked my fuckin head open. I got dizzy and weak in the knees and nearly knocked me out cold. My boss didn’t see me and it was my first day on the job and I was so new I didn’t know what would happen, so I didn’t say anything. But I had a giant bump on my fuckin head, and probably a concussion, and that’s how my first day working at Ford Motor Company went, my first day working in the factory.


When my father died, I’d been working at the plant a year and a half. It was Christmas shut down at work which means I was off work for a week and a half. Ten days. I called my dad on that Monday, my first day off of work, Christmas break, to ask him a question about something, I don’t remember what. I was living w my brother Scott at the time and didn’t really see my dad too often at this point. Me and my dad spoke for a couple minutes on the phone, and as I was ending the phone call, my dad says, “come by and see me sometime. Don’t just call me when you need something or have a question.” I replied, “yeah, okay, I have this whole week off work.” Well, I was twenty years old and partying like a fucking porn star at the time and uh all these days off work and hanging out w friends and getting shit faced drunk every night, so I blew off going to see my dad. I knew I was gonna see him on Christmas eve, which was Friday. At my grandma’s house. I said, fuck it, I’ll see him then. Well, Thursday morning, I get woken up by my brother sitting on my bed next to me, crying, shaking me awake, telling me that dad died. They say he had heart disease and died of a massive heart attack. He was only 47 years old, but was a massive alcoholic and smoked three packs a day. I was in disbelief. I didn’t believe what Scott was telling me at first, and after a few minutes, me waking up more, I eventually accepted reality and instantly felt the guilt of not going to see him like I told him I would. And I’ve lived with that guilt for a long time, for many, many years. I remember my mom calling, wanting to talk to me, but I couldn’t speak cuz I was crying too much. The next night I went to a Christmas party at my former employer’s restaurant. I got black out drunk. I don’t remember the night at all. I was told a friend dropped me off at home. The next memory I have is being woken up by police beating me with their nightsticks or clubs or whatever they’re called, and tearing me out of bed, and putting me in handcuffs, and then sitting there with nothing but boxer shorts on, sitting in handcuffs still, shit face drunk. They tell me that after being dropped off from the party, I went into the wrong house. I kicked the back door in of a neighbor and when the neighbor heard the door breaking, he came to the door, asked me what I wanted. He said I didn’t say a word, I turned around and walked away. He called the police, and they followed my footprints in the freshly fallen snow across the street to where I lived. While sitting on the couch in handcuffs, my brother, Scott, comes running down the stairs, and as they’re about to pull me away, take me to jail, he’s telling them, “No! You can’t arrest him!” and explaining to them that our father had just died, and I was so drunk I must not have known what was going on. I wasn’t breaking into the man’s house. One of the officers explained that to the neighbor whose door I’d just kicked in and the neighbor decided he did not want to press charges so I was not taken to jail that night. But the police did take my shoes and my jacket as evidence, which I had to go pick up a few days later. About a week later I went to the neighbor’s house to apologize and to offer him some money to fix the door. He was a nice old man and refused to take any money from me and then he showed me a pistol and said, “You’re just lucky I didn’t have this on me at the time.”


My first DUI I was twenty years old, about six months after my dad died. I was driving home from a friend’s cabin in northern Michigan. Me and a bunch of friends were up there for the weekend and partying hard all weekend. Saturday night, when I was up at the cabin, or, I should say, early Sunday morning, cuz it was, like, six am, most everyone was asleep in tents on the property, except for me and maybe two or three of my other friends who were still up drinkin and drugging. I had a few M-80s, which are - each one is an eighth of a stick of dynamite. I’d lit one right next to a friend’s tent as a joke cuz I thought it would be funny and it made the loudest boom I think I’ve ever heard. Well, my other friend whose parents owned the property, got up out of his sleeping bag, ran out of his tent, and came over screaming at me as me and my other couple of friends are hysterically laughing. We got into an argument about it. and I packed my things up and left and decided to make the three hour drive home. I was driving on no sleep and still very much intoxicated from the night before cuz I never stopped drinking. I made it all the way down to about a half hour away from my house before I got pulled over on the side of the highway. I rolled down my window and as soon as the cop walks up, he looks in the window, and takes a big step back, and says, “Whoa! How much have you had to drink? You reek!” I said “Only one or two, officer, it’s still early in the day for me.” He didn’t believe me, gave me a Breathalyzer, then took me to jail.


The second DUI was exactly one year later. Me and a friend were driving home from an after-hours bar in Detroit where we were at until about five a.m., drinking and doing coke and nitrous. It was probably a half hour drive from the bar to my house, and, for some reason, I had my friend pull my car over in an alley behind a store a mile from my house so I could take a piss. When I was done, I told him to scoot over and I would drive the rest of the way home, because we are only a mile from the house – “What could possibly go wrong?” I said. I was still on probation from my first DUI. It was pouring rain out and the alley was unpaved gravel road. I climbed into the driver seat and floored the gas. We come to a side street, we come up to the street where ewe had to turn, and I didn’t realize it til I looked up. My friend yelled my name and said “turn!” I looked up just in time to see the road right in front of me and I cut the wheel as hard as I could. I came out of the alley sideways and lost control and crashed head-on, into a tree. Keith said, “I’m getting the fuck out of here,” then ran. I was dazed and didn’t know what the fuck had happened at first - my airbags were deployed, my horn is continuously honking and it won’t stop. I look around, and it’s pouring outside, and I also decided to run instead of stay there at the scene. I made it about one or two blocks before a police car pulled up on me and put their spotlight on me. I just raised my hands in the air and kneeled down and went to jail.


My third DUI was on my boat. Me and some friends were out on the lake all day, since probably around noon, in the hot sun, drinking heavily. We came in off the lake around seven or eight at night and decided we would go home and eat and meet back up in a couple hours to take the boat back out to one of the lakefront clubs. By the time we all met back up at the arena, it was about ten p.m., and at this point, I could already barely stand, let alone see straight. But, anyway, we decided to take the boat back out again and go to the bar. So, we drive the boat halfway across the lake, and as we approached the canal for where the bar was at, something happened. I had an electrical problem on my boat, and all my lights went out. Which is not only dangerous, but very illegal when driving at night on the boat. Well, it just so happened that two minutes after my lights went out, I drove the boat right past the Coast Guard, and they proceeded to pull me over and board our little ship. Now, they started asking me questions first about the safety things on the boat, if I had enough life jackets, fire extinguishers, etc., etc., then they asked me if I had been drinking tonight, and I said, of course not, yet there was half drunken bottles of vodka and dozens of empty beer cans all over the boat. So, they decided to give me a Breathalyzer, and, of course, I was way over the limit. So, once again, I was put in handcuffs for another drinking and driving offense. I’m always very nice to the police officers until I know I’m going to jail and then I’ll talk shit to them which is exactly what happened this time. I told the officer, “How the fuck do you know I was drinking and driving? You told me to go down into the cabin of the boat to get life jackets to show you. How do you know I wasn’t drinking when I was down there?” But they took me to jail anyway, so. Actually, they took me to the Coast Guard station on the shore and had to call the local police to come pick me up. The local police got there and said, “that’s not our jurisdiction,” so then they had to call the county sheriffs to come pick me up. After I was picked up by the sheriff, he seemed like a decent guy, and he starts telling me how much he hates those Coast Guard assholes, and tells me he’ll take the long way back to the jail, doing me a favor so hopefully my BAC will go down, but it didn’t. I was still over the limit. They put me in the holding cell with seven or eight other guys for the night, and I remember being so worried that this was my third DUI, and an automatic felony charge. But much to my surprise, the next day, after being bailed out of jail, I got my charges, OUIL [Operating Under the Influence of Liquor] watercraft, first offense, misdemeanor. Nowadays, it would be counted as a regular DUI, but back then, it was right before they changed that law. I would have a felony right now. As I’m walking out of jail, they hand me my property which was a life jacket, because when I was arrested the night before they had to put one of my lifejackets on me before they put me in their boat in handcuffs. I put the lifejacket on, then proceeded to walk out of the jail wearing nothing but swimming trunks and a lifejacket.


My father had gotten three DUIs also before he died. Before he got his third one, I leased a truck and put it in my dad’s name because the insurance was a lot cheaper. I was sixteen or seventeen. And after he got his third DUI, he told me he had to transfer it into my name, because he was probably going to be losing his license. Back then, if you got three DUI’s within ten years it was a felony. But now it’s three in a lifetime is a felony. My dad was really stressed out because he was facing a felony charge after that third offense, but he paid a lot of money for a lawyer and was able to get it dropped down to a misdemeanor.


The night I met Ray Liotta I was backstage at a Kid Rock concert at Pine Knob Music Theater in Detroit. My son’s mother was working, promoting Kid Rock’s new Badass beer at the concert, and she was given free tickets and backstage passes for all three shows. I pretty much stayed in the parking lot by myself, drinking heavily, and watching trashy women walk by, occasionally hitting on them. Later on in the evening, when she was done working, we went into the concert, and went and hung out and got free food and drinks backstage. I was sitting in a room with a little bar all by myself and then Ray Liotta walks in surrounded by a group of people who all looked like they were kissing his ass, when I was just sitting there on the couch, totally fucking shitfaced, not paying them much attention. When Ray looks over at me and walks away from his group of people, comes up to me, and introduces himself. I shook his hand and said, “it’s nice to meet you, I like your movies.” Then he went back to his group of people and started talking again, and after a few minutes, I stood up to walk out of the room because I had to take a piss. I turned around and looked at Ray and said, “Hey, Ray! Do you think I’m a funny guy?” which is a quote from the Goodfellas movie. And he looked at me, awkwardly, and didn’t say nothing. And then I go, “Funny how?” and I walked out. David Arquette and Hayden Panettiere were running around backstage too. But you couldn’t really get near Kid Rock back there. He had his own little private rooms and his dad and mom were in there. When he came off stage, he still had security surrounding him and stuff. You couldn’t really get close to him. After the show there was an after party at Kid Rock’s house. My kid’s mom was invited, but I was not, because I was not a female. She told me she wanted to go and asked me to drive her car home. I looked at her and said, “Are you fucking crazy? I am shitfaced fuckin drunk. I’ve already got three DUIs and I’m not driving home. You’re insane.” She responded by saying, “This could be big for my modeling career.” And went on about how I was ruining it for her. I laughed and said, “You can suck any celebrity’s cock in the future to further your career if that’s what you call furthering your career.” So, after a few minutes of arguing, she reluctantly said, “Okay, let’s go,” and we left the concert. We were starting to head home, then she decided she wanted to drive past Kid Rock’s house to try to see who was there, but it’s such a big estate, you couldn’t see anything from the street, and after making a couple passes by his house, we just drove home. She was still wearing the Badass beer top and bootie shorts. In hindsight, maybe sucking and fucking them celebrities would have been good for her career, cuz her modeling didn’t really go anywhere after that.


How I started doing opiates is I had a few friends over at my house and we were drinking and playing cards and stuff. My girlfriend also had a couple friends over and they were hanging out talking to each other having a couple of drinks. I walked into the room where they were and I saw the one woman take a pill out of her purse and eat it. I asked her, “what was that?” and she told me it was a Vicodin. I said, “Oh, could I try one?” And she gave me one and I swallowed it and half hour later or so I started to feel really cool. And about an hour later, I went back up to her and asked if I could have another one, and she said yes, and gave it to me. A couple days later, me and my girlfriend were talking, and she said that friend who gave me the pills worked at a doctor’s office, and if I made that doctor my personal care physician on my health insurance, that I could pretty much get whatever prescriptions I wanted. So, that’s what we did. I made my first appointment to go see this doctor, and I was a little nervous at first. Then when I got there, I saw that the doctor was a younger doctor, Indian man, and he drove a Lamborghini. I went into the doctor’s office to see the doctor, and I told him I had some back pain which was false, I just wanted some drugs, and he said “okay,” and wrote me a prescription for 150 Norco. At first, I mostly used Norco to help get rid of my hangovers from nights of excessive drinking and cocaine use, and they worked very well for that. But eventually, it turned into an every day thing, eating the pills, and after a short time, maybe a year or so, I stopped drinking altogether and was doing nothing but eating pills. I was probably eating anywhere from 25-35 Norcos a day. The next month I went in there to get a refill of my prescriptions and this time I thought: why not ask for more drugs? so he gave me the 150 Norco again, and then I also asked him for a prescription for Adderall, which he gave me, a dosage of 30 mg, twice daily. 60 Adderalls. And then I also asked him for Xanax. And he had no problem writing me a prescription for 30 Xanax bars a month, and two months refills for every one of them. So I walked out of there with a stack of nine prescriptions. And my girlfriend got the same thing. Now, that doctor was friends with some of my girlfriend’s friends, and we would occasionally see him when we were at parties or bars, and even saw him and partied with him at a wedding for a coke dealer that we used to buy coke off of, and I actually did a lot of cocaine with that doctor. I saw that doctor for four or five years. Until one day I went up to the doctor’s office for my appointment, and the whole office was shut down, and there was a sign posted on the door directing all his patients to call another #. It turns out that my doctor had been arrested for selling or trading prescriptions for cocaine. He was facing major criminal charges and was stripped of his doctor’s license. I never saw that doctor again. I looked through the book provided to me by my health insurance for doctors in my area and I found the first one who had an Indian name and decided to give him a call. And I went there and he had no problem continuing my prescriptions.