Last week, I was sitting in the train, discretely reading my OA Twelve and Twelve. The man sitting next to me was reading over my shoulder.
“So, what is OA?” he whispered. “On Average?”
“Um, no, we’re Overeaters Anonymous. A group of people who suffer from the disease of COE,” I reluctantly explained.
“What’s a COE?” he asked, too loudly for my taste. “Compulsive Overeater,” I said as I gently shushed him.
“I thought that stood for Chief Operating Executive,” he whispered back.
“Not in this case,” I explained quietly. “We’re COEs. And, we encourage each other to KCB.”
“KCB? You mean, the Soviet police?!” he exclaimed. The usual “seen it all” NY subway riders were starting to take notice. I shrank in my seat.
“No, no, that’s KGB,” I answered. “This means Keep Coming Back.”
“Oh, I see,” he said. Although I wasn’t sure he did. “You see,” I explained, “in OA, we try to live ODAT.”
“What is that – the name of your leader?” People were starting to lean in toward us. A guy standing over me stopped reading his newspaper and stared at me.
“It stands for One Day at a Time. We try to live One Day at a Time by keeping in touch with our HP,” I whispered. I was starting to get a headache.
“Right,” he said knowingly. “Hip People.” “No, not exactly. Higher Power.”
“Sounds like some sort of cult.” I winced at the thought. I looked around the subway car for a new seat. But, it was rush hour; not an empty seat in sight.
“We’re not a cult,” I explained patiently. “We hold meetings. But, we don’t advertise. We prefer to find each other by word-of-mouth. And, when the going gets tough, we P.U.S.H.”
“Well, if you push yourselves on other people, it sure as hell sounds like a cult to me!” he laughed.
I looked up at the illuminated list of subway stops. Thankfully, mine was next. I ran a quick Gratitude List in my head. Then, I stood up and said a short “good day” to my seat mate.
“Take care,” he said, as he pressed a pamphlet into my hand. I stuffed it in my pocket as I exited the train. Once on the platform, I glanced at the title: “Where Will You Spend Eternity?” Hopefully not on the subway, I thought.
— Debbie F.
Published in Metro Memo – August 2011