This is neither a sermon nor a way to influence your way of thinking, but sixteen years ago I decided to give up drinking alcoholic beverages. Many events have happened in my life that made this decision a no-brainer.
For ten years I managed a restaurant/bar and the same customers came in every night after work. Sometimes it seemed like the customers didn’t have a life outside of the bar. Executives came after work with their office staff and drank for hours. The executives took turns paying for rounds of drinks for their group. Assisting behind the bar on busy nights, I saw tabs in the $50 to $60 range for one round of drinks. My thought was that they were carelessly throwing away their money! How did these people get up in the morning and get to their 8:00 a.m. meetings?
Teachers from the local high school along with their coworkers often came in for happy hour and remained for hours after. How did the teachers get up in the morning and didn’t this affect their teaching abilities the next day?
Eventually, I started to get very tired of working sixty hour weeks, worrying about the safety of the patrons, and constantly being on radar for underage drinkers. I made the decision to get out of the bar business entirely. Serving drinks all night and not drinking is similar to walking into a party and you are the only one sober.
The most important reason I decided to give up drinking alcohol is because of my family history. I come from a gene pool of dysfunctional alcoholics. When I was a teenager, my mother told me a story about my paternal grandfather who was a stereotypical alcoholic. When my father was a teenager, my paternal grandfather had been missing for days. My grandmother and father finally found him laying in a gutter, near a bar on Eastern Avenue, throwing up and yelling obscenities at passersby. My mother said my father was so ashamed of his father and swore he would never end up like that. An uncanny twist to this story is my father died last October after leaving a downtown Cincinnati bar inebriated. He fell, hit his head on the curb and landed in the gutter outside the bar. The doctors at University Hospital said he was so intoxicated that he probably didn’t feel a thing. My brother and I made the decision to take him off life support. It’s hard to believe; my father was once an IBM “yes man” and lost his job because of his alcohol problem. After losing his job, he became a lounge singer, enabling him to drink nightly. Alcohol ruined his entire life.
A life with alcohol wasn’t conducive to the goals I set for myself. Drinking is only a road block in the way of where I want to be. The decision to not drink alcohol has kept me young, healthy, and able to deal with everyday stresses.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.