My favorite character in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is the “Jaywalker.” His story can be found on pages 37-38 in the Big Book. The Jaywalker’s penchant for jaywalking is an analogy to the escalation of our drinking. Just as the Jaywalker progresses in his disease of jaywalking, we progress in our drinking career.
At first the Jaywalker gets a thrill out of running in front of fast moving cars. He suffers no consequences at this point however friends and family began to notice he is doing more jaywalking than usual. Such could also be said of the beginning of our drinking escapades. Up to this point people would consider us just to be foolish when it came to the drink problem. Finally, the jaywalker is injured several times in succession. This shows the escalation of our drinking problem and that we are starting to suffer consequences from this problem.
Normal people would stop jaywalking after such injuries. The same goes for a normal drinker. They would evaluate the situation and realize that drinking is doing them no good. They may even stop drinking for good. However, our jaywalker at this point cannot stop. Presently he is hit again and fractures his skull. More serious consequences for the jaywalker and the alcoholic. By now in the alcoholic the physical allergy has become manifest and they cannot stop drinking even if they wanted to.
The same goes for the Jaywalker. At this point he cannot get the jaywalking idea out of his head. Consequences become worse and his wife threatens to leave him if he doesn’t stop this absurd behavior. This can be compared to the disease of alcoholism. The alcoholic is on a collision course with death, insanity or jail. The Jaywalker and the alcoholic finally realize that they need help. They shut themselves up in a treatment center in order to stop jaywalking and drinking. While in treatment they are able to not participate in their respective behaviors. They have a 30-day respite from their disease. Then comes the day of release. Immediately after being released from the treatment center the Jaywalker jumps in front of a fire engine and breaks his back. The alcoholic upon release heads to the closest liquor store and buys himself a bottle and begins drinking on the way home.
What could the problem be? Here we have 2 individuals who just spent 30 days learning about the diseases of jaywalking and alcoholism. They were given lots of knowledge regarding the diseases. But immediately they both pick up where they left off. The reason being we suspect is that they did not have the entire psychic change while in treatment that is required to overcome these addictions. They had gained some self-knowledge but had not had the psychic change necessary to overcome the diseases. Is their hope for these 2 fellows? Yes, there is. With additional treatment focusing on the solution to the diseases both persons can stop these obsessive behaviors and live normal, productive lives. When the psychic change occurs the obsession to drink or jaywalk will be removed. The mind and soul must undergo a change in order to remain free of the diseases. This is possible through the taking of the 12 Steps.