― Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title
Daryl has been a carpenter more than half of his life. He is 29 and was first introduced to carpentry when he was 13.
Daryl loves to create, to mold wood, to build homes, expensive homes for people he will likely never meet. He considers himself an artist. Holding up his hands, he says to me, proudly: "There's nothing I can't do with these hands."
Daryl is also a heroin addict. I sat with him on the bus from Montgomery to Birmingham, Alabama. He was heading to his parent's home in Birmingham, having just left a job, building homes, creating art at an exclusive development in Montgomery. The site foreman found a syringe near Daryl's locker, confronted him with the evidence. Daryl admitted it was his, then quit, gathering his stuff for the trip back to Birmingham.
"It doesn't sound like you were fired," I said. "Why would you quit a job you liked."
"Because I've been here before," he said."Once they know, they're always looking over your shoulder, always looking for you to screw up. He tried to talk me into staying because he liked my work, but it's not worth it."
We talked about recovery. Daryl's been using for more than 10 years. Four years earlier, he was able to quit, entered a rehab program, joined Narcotics Anonymous.
"I was clean for three years," he said. "My sponsor was an older dude who owned a construction company. He found me good jobs and I was doing my best work ever. Then I met his daughter who had just moved back to town. He thought she was clean, but it was a lie. She got me back on the stuff and I haven't been able to get off."
I ask him if he is afraid, afraid that he'll overdose, afraid that he'll die.
"I'm not afraid," he says. "I've tried to kill myself twice, cause sometimes I just get tired, don't wanna play this game anymore. I think about going back to meetings. He trails off and looks out the window.
I ask Daryl what he's going to do when he gets to Birmingham.
"First thing I'm gonna do is find a fix," he says, matter-of-factly. "Then I'll go to see my girlfriend or my parents."
I suggest that he call his sponsor instead of finding a fix. He takes a moment, as if giving serious consideration to my suggestion. "Maybe I will," he said. But I think he was being polite, telling me what I'd like to hear.
We pull into Birmingham. I give him a few dollars for a beer. We shake hands and I urge him to call his sponsor. He lies and says he will.
I ask if he'll be able to find work. He smiles. "Everybody needs a good carpenter," he says. "And I'm the best there is."