Honestly, another aspect of this recent car accident event in my loved one’s life is how it shines the light back on us. Seriously bugs me that it does, but it does.
I’ve driven while intoxicated on numerous occasions, truth be told. Over the legal limit probably the majority of the time I’ve returned home from a bar outing. Don’t doubt it. As was/is the case for most folks I know who hang out in bars, plus plenty who drink at home and then head out to the grocery store for something or to the gas station or a friend’s house and whatnot. It’s actually quite common. We all know it’s dangerous and wrong and potentially fatal, and yet it goes on all the time. Even among the retirees who hit the bars earlier in the day and then clog up traffic by driving below the speed limit afterward. Or the folks returning from their golf outings — almost always lit up on the course before heading to their favorite watering holes to tie on a few more. I see it going on all the time. Observed it for years here and in other cities I’ve lived in prior.
It’s so common that for some folks I’d venture to say it’s the norm, at least in the evenings once work is completed.
This has always given me mixed feelings where on one hand I don’t wish to acknowledge this fact since so many others like to downplay how frequently they do the same, making me look like one of the supposed few who actually has a problem. Au contraire. Other folks are just better liars, I swear on that. But when I admit it aloud, even among my fellow drinkers whom I’ve watched leave out of bars on countless occasions so drunk I’m surprised they made it out of the parking lot, I’m given the cold shoulder. We’re not supposed to talk about that, at least not unless it involves a funny story. Supposed to all quietly sweep that one under the rug. Or call an Uber if your conscience troubles you. But just do not talk about it.
Well, it gets brought up sometimes, and not always by me but by someone teasing me or somebody else for how messed up we were the night before. It’s a big joke to some folks. And so long as people laugh, such talk is tolerated. Only becomes a problem when someone says “Damn. I’m fucking up. I don’t recall even driving home.” Then we’re either given some dismissive advice about how we maybe should try to drink a little less next time or call a cab or whatever, or we’re just ignored. Ramblings of drunks is all it amounts to. Nobody really seems to care that much in those atmospheres, though some bars do care once they’ve had their liquor licenses threatened.
What I’m getting at here is it matters not whether it’s discussed, it still occurs frequently and across all kinds of people from all different kinds of backgrounds. Middle-class, working-class, all races, both sexes, young, old, middle-aged — you name it. We all somewhere inside fear a wreck or DUI/OWI, yet we still drove ourselves home after drinking time and time and time again. That’s a fact. Even if we feel bad about doing so, we still did so. It’s the norm among many, if not most, drinkers, especially heavy drinkers. Unless they can walk home, but even that decision is usually prompted by already receiving a DUI/OWI in the past.
I do listen to people and observe what’s going on and always have. People tell me plenty, and it’s not hard to see who’s jacked up.
Last year, I ran over a road sign one late night while driving home from a bar. Couldn’t even locate which one I hit either since other people had hit signs that same night so a couple were down and one other was sideways. Yeah, not proud of that. If I could hit a frickin’ road sign, I could’ve hit anything else. Snapped me wide awake when I hit the sign, and yet the next day I could not figure out which one it was. And that was over a year, maybe 1.5 years ago by now. Learned to Uber more for a while there, but eventually I resumed driving myself home. Never had that problem again since, and hadn’t done that before, but the risk was always there.
Do you know how many people do that sort of shit and just don’t like to admit it? Have a look at regular barhounds’ cars sometime and take note of the damaged spots. Much of that is from drunk driving incidents. Sometimes they’ll tell you stories about how it happened if you’re sitting in a bar with them while they’re feeling chatty, but I doubt they’d admit it to the outside world. Because it’s frowned upon. Forces us to reckon with our own poor choices and behaviors, which is a definite downer. Few care to acknowledge these matters openly partly because it’s frickin’ embarrassing. Though in the barscene people do tend to be more open about the times they’ve been nabbed by the cops. Maybe because they perceive that as some sort of injustice, or they know so many others have been in the same situation before and therefore are willing to commiserate over it. I’ve heard countless stories along these lines over time. Always prided myself on being among the seeming few who has never been dealt a DUI/OWI, though that’s been due to luck more than anything else.
Yet I’ve also heard some of these parents chide their adult children WHILE AT THE BAR DRINKING for getting picked up by the cops or damaging their vehicles. As if we’re in any position to talk. We get onto one another for the very same crime we’re guilty of. Seems the logic there is that if we don’t get caught and don’t wreck, then no harm, no foul. I’ve adopted that logic myself on numerous occasions. But still, it’s bugged me over time. Nags and gnaws at me. Kinda makes me feel like a bit of a cretin in society. Forces me to worry about hitting a pedestrian or another car or getting stopped by the cops and winding up jeopardizing my job as a result. Not to mention my finances, or my conscience. Yet when you’re drunk, you don’t care. That’s what alcohol is good for: to make you care less. The next day we might reflect and feel ashamed and/or scared over the ride home the night before, but pour a little more booze in you the next night and you’ll be right back at it again. And again and again.
Caused me to feel like a hypocrite over time. Because I am. How can I worry about college students drinking too much and getting behind the wheel when we older folks aren’t doing much better? Just have more experience under our belts, that’s it. Because we’ve done it more often. Misplaced confidence in our own capabilities while intoxicated.
Feeling like a hypocrite unnerves me. Hard to stake a moral claim on something being wrong and unacceptable when I do it too. And when I hung out in places where practically everybody did it too, nightly. Gotta state it plain.
Looking forward to the future and being free of at least one area in my life where I proved to be a hypocrite. Two weeks (sans one day) and counting…