The call came in just as I was finishing my shift. It was Andy, a young waiter and one of my favorite coworkers and friends at the H.S. Bounty restaurant in Kaanapali, Maui. Jan took the call, and I could tell from her end of the conversation that something was wrong.
Jan was my roommate, my friend from home who had the original idea to take a break from Chico State and live and work in Maui for a year. We worked opposite shifts as cashiers at the Bounty. My shift had just ended, Jan’s shift had just started, and she had handed me the keys to our shared Toyota so I could go home for the evening. I hesitated, though, when I heard Jan’s tone on the phone. She sounded concerned, even frightened, while talking to Andy.
I could tell from Jan’s end of the conversation that Andy had taken something, some kind of drug, and was strung out and having a hard time. This was new territory for all of us. Jan and I barely drank alcohol, and certainly had nothing to do with drugs. Andy, like most of the surfing busboys and waiters of all ages on the island, had smoked his share of pakalolo, but he wasn’t very experienced with other drugs. In his confusion and fear he had called work to talk to someone he trusted, and and he got Jan. While she was easily the smartest person in the place, someone Andy adored, and very level-headed, she was also not someone who could offer any experience-based advice, other than DON’T HANG UP.
Andy was getting sleepy, and was losing interest in the conversation. Jan kept him talking as long as she could, and then her shift started. We really couldn’t keep the restaurant phone tied up that way -- this was in the days before cell phones, 1986 -- so again Jan begged Andy to tell her where he was so we could get him some help. He wouldn’t tell her. The lives of these surf bums were much different from anything Jan and I were used to -- they moved from one buddy’s apartment to another, crashing where they may. Andy officially lived with his teenage girlfriend and her mother in a posh condo up on Pineapple Hill, in the exclusive area of Kapalua. But quite often Andy would crash with all the other guys in a seedy apartment tower in Honokowai. Andy could have been a lot of places.
“Andy, don’t hang up until you tell us where you are,” Jan pleaded. But for some reason he wouldn’t say. Jan did get him to agree to call me on our home phone in ten minutes -- enough time for me to race home. He did call me, and I kept him on the phone for a long time. I couldn’t convince him to tell me what he had taken, where he was, or to allow me to send medical help. Finally, in exhaustion, Andy hung up the phone.
I was so afraid he would die.
Andy lived through the experience, but the spark in his eyes that we loved, the energy and quick-witted comebacks, were missing. He seemed to be filtered, dissipated. Talking with Andy after that night was like talking to someone who was pretty stoned.
I didn’t smoke any pot for another few years, and then only twice, I think. I had put it off so long that I was an adult, and at that age there was no thrill, no sense of getting away with anything. The fuzzy head that came with the weed reminded me of Andy, which was a buzz-kill. I definitely had no interest in any other drugs.
Maybe something good came of the whole sad experience, after all.