Author

John Hales

John Hales

John Hales’s essays have appeared in the Hudson Review, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, The Georgia Review and elsewhere, and he’s the author of Shooting Polaris, from University of Missouri Press. Recognition for his writing includes a Pushcart Prize and the 2010 Missouri Review Editors Prize for nonfiction. He teaches in the MFA program at CSU, Fresno.

CONTRIBUTIONS

34.1 Cover

Nonfiction

Jul 01 2011

Helpline

Although we weren’t exactly drug-dependent, at least in terms of how drug dependency had been defined in the mimeographed packet we’d been handed while undergoing volunteer Helpline training, and we weren’t stoners compared to some of our friends who toked even more than we did, most of us who worked shifts at the university’s telephone crisis line smoked a lot of marijuana. We joked that it was an occupational hazard. All that stress. All those panicked calls from people not right at that moment enjoying the effects of their own drugs of choice, or telling us at great length the ways their lives truly and deeply sucked. We lit up the second our shifts were over, often on the way to our cars in the union building parking lot, sharing a joint and, if someone had thought ahead, a bottle of something, anything, alcoholic. And then, weather permitting, adjournment to a nearby city park to smoke and drink some more. All that drug talk on the phone; all that human misery we couldn’t avoid ingesting a fair amount of as it cascaded over the phone: fears of where bad trips were heading, thoughts of suicide, more mundane yet really depressing narratives of loneliness—I’m so ugly, I’m so alone, I’m so pathetic I’m calling you.