The Only Copy of the Big Book


I am an alcoholic.

There are a number of sayings that do not seem to appear in our literature that have become ‘AA Speak’. One of these is ‘You may be the only version of the book Alcoholics Anonymous that someone sees’. – …And for that I am responsible.

I was recently blessed to be one of four speakers from outside Hong Kong invited to speak at the Hong Kong International Convention. My flight and hotel were paid for and, after consulting with my sponsor, I accepted as I was not being compensated for twelve step work, but simply having my expenses met.

Although the experience was amazing and spiritually uplifting, my article is about something that happened while I was on route.

I was at OR Tambo airport, Johannesburg, for eight hours between my national and international flights. I have physical difficulties so travelled as a ‘meet and assist’ passenger. This means that the airport company takes care of us, including settling us in a special lounge while waiting.

My flight was to leave at 11.30pm, and at around 8.30 I heard a brash American woman’s voice shouting, “No one will help me. I missed my flight, my mobile is flat and I can’t charge it….etc, etc.” In she charged with her suitcase on the trolley.. If she had been a Chinese dragon not only smoke, but flames too, would have been coming out of her mouth, nose and ears!!

I offered to lend her my charger but, as she had an iPhone and I have a Samsung, that didn’t work. I suggested she look for a Mobile phone shop and buy a charger. It was late but ORT is an international airport.  She rushed off shouting, “You are the only one who would help me.” Well, my good deed for the day, methought.

I was then moved to another waiting area as that lounge was closing for the night.

Before long I heard “I am looking for my friend. Where have they put my friend?” Yup, you got it. The same lady, looking for me. Now her lost friend.

She had found an electronic shop and bought the cable for her mobile phone, but not the plug in thing. Anyway, I had my trusty power bank with me, so we plugged her in and she sat down to chat.

Turned out she works for a USA airline and wanted to fly home that night. However, as she gets a free flight, she needed to be on standby, and the flight was full. Not being able to charge her phone, she couldn’t let relevant people know she was stranded, nor could she look for a hotel for the night.

As we waited, she asked why I was going to HK. I told her I had been invited to speak at an Alcoholics Anonymous convention.

Blow me down, she started to cry. I was taken aback and asked what was wrong.

She said her 38 year old son was an alcoholic, now doing drugs too. Living with her and she wasn’t able to throw him out. He had been to rehab and AA and nothing worked. I suggested Al-Anon for her. She had done that too and it didn’t work. The whole usual story. A family in crisis.

I really had nothing to say. I had one of our little ‘Meeting in a Pocket’ booklets with me. I gave it to her as a ‘keepsake’, suggesting she show it to her son and tell him a bit about our meeting. From my experience, it is sometimes the simplest things in life that make us decide to accept AA’s message.

We found an airport employee to  show her to a hotel on site to spend the night, and she hugged me and left.

Shortly after that I was on my way, feeling that God had given me an opportunity to carry the AA message of hope and to show the hand of AA to someone in distress.

I am multiply blessed.

Trix, SA