This would be the second time, (or third if I count a party at the Menzer house in high school), that I drank uncontrollably, but FINALLY learned a lesson. It goes down in my personal journals as my most stupid drinking night (as an adult). My ‘first’ bad night occurred many years earlier and I have to claim teenager-ignorance otherwise it would be my most stupid. I offer it here if you’d enjoy reading (link). I didn’t know my limit and it resulted in a rough night. I remembered my lesson learned from this experience until I forgot about it 16-17 years later. This is that story, offered in two parts. Look for the conclusion next week.
The year was 1993 or 94 – I’m pretty sure it was 1994. We lived in Alexandria, Louisiana at the time, having transferred down from Cincinnati by my company, P&G in 1989. For those of you that have never worked for a large company, a ‘dog and pony’ is a slang term used for an event where an important member of the company visits a location and the hosts present a series of presentations for the visitors (or VIP’s). The presentations provide a service for the VIP I assume, but they tend to require a large number of effort hours to prepare; a large number of hours and a large number of people doing the preparation.
The ‘real work’ doesn’t go away either – the dog and pony prep work is piled on top of all the normal real work. Typically, each dog and pony will amount to 1-2 weeks with a lot of overtime hours incurred. Needless to say, all the participants involved in each dog and pony are wasted; exhausted by the time the presentations are over.
The plant I was working at was ‘kicking ass’! We were having a huge series of years where each successive year we had surpassed the previous year’s production record. We had a great team, managers and technicians alike, and we were led by an intelligent and amiable plant manager named Andy. I really liked working for Andy. He was the type of leader who would dress you down hard when you deserved it, but could smile and pal around with you five minutes later. As long as you received his message and he felt certain that your mistake would not be repeated, all was good and the data point would be put behind everyone.
The other thing about Andy was that Andy enjoyed a good party. He could separate work behavior from ‘after work’ behavior. With that said, most manager ‘celebrations’ would occur at Andy’s house. Andy and his wife both worked together and so with two nice incomes, they had the nicest house; perfect for ‘celebrations’.
Andy had called a need for a big let-it-loose shindig at his place. Over the course of less than 2 months, we had entertained 3 VIPs at the plant. This meant 3 dog and pony’s, 3 very long and grueling weeks worth of 60+ hours at work with lots of pressure. The stars were aligned and everyone seemed ready for a big night.
All the managers showed up at Andy’s house and the crowd very quickly divided up between those who were going to get shit-faced and those who were going to leave early and be able to perform normally the next morning. The smart ones, (the non shit-faced), gathered together in the living room where it was comfortable, quiet. The idiots, (the group I was a part of), were hanging outside around the bar, throwing back shots of tequila with margarita chasers and singing along to tunes such as Jimmy Buffet’s Let’s All Get Drunk and Screw. Yes indeed, tonight was shaping up to be a memorable occasion.
All the singles were hammered within the first couple of hours. The couples, (those that were smart anyway), very quickly identified which of the couple was going to stay sober. I never got to see Andy’s wife blasted – she was usually making sure that our fearless leader didn’t do anything he might regret the next day (damn good wife there). My wife had very quickly assessed the situation. She thought that I was “trying to keep up with the girls”. She was referring to Susan and Suzanne – two single young ladies, drinking pros. I wasn’t really “trying” to keep up with them. I was just stupid – I wasn’t counting drinks. Where was Rainman when I needed him?
It was around this point that Andy and Dennis declared that they were going to make a run for more alcohol. When they left, the sober people saw it as an opportunity to call it an evening – smart people. The not-so-smart men saw it as an opportunity to pull a prank on the fearless leader (Andy). Andy had a ski-doo, currently located on its trailer. One of us geniuses had the grand idea that it would be super cool to put the seadoo into the swimming pool. A half dozen or so of us began pushing and pulling the trailer around the corner of the house towards the direction of the pool.
We got too close to the brick house when suddenly, (crunch), we broke off the left side reflector on the trailer. Ok, that was a sobering moment. Andy was our boss and we had just accidentally vandalized his toy. Hey guys, maybe this isn’t such a great idea. How will we get it out of the pool? No drunken genius response…how about we just push it up alongside the pool? Not soon after stationing the trailer next to the pool, did the alcohol gophers return. Andy’s reaction? He laughed out loud and shouted – “ha, you should have put it in the pool!” And that was Andy….a cool guy – I wouldn’t mind having him as a friend today. The world needs more carefree attitudes.
Soon I decided to mingle so I went to the living room. My wife, I could see from my vantage point on the couch. She could see me from her kitchen vantage point and when I saw her give me a knowing raise of the eyebrows, I wondered why. And that’s when I realized I was sitting next to one of my female coworkers, all nice and cozy with my arm around her shoulder, over the couch. That’s when it hit me – boy, you are drunk! You better get your butt outside, go walk it off. For some strange reason I thought all I had to do was to go outside, start walking and the alcohol would just disappear. I had had a lot to drink.
The effects from the alcohol began hitting me hard. How much had I drank? Let’s see…there were tequila shots, margaritas, beer. I didn’t have a clue. I got up. I didn’t speak to anyone. I simply got up and went out the rear door, through the rear gate and out into the street where there was a small median in the middle of Andy’s street. I began walking laps. The evening air felt good. I felt that as long as I kept moving, I could walk off the effects of the alcohol in my system.
As I continued doing my ‘laps’, I guess word got around where I was and what I was doing. At some point, just about every individual from the party made his or her way out to visit me (only the idiot group – the intelligent group had long since departed by this time). I remember ‘the girls’ trying to talk me back to the party. Then it was the guys. At one point or another, just about all the drunks made their way out to me in an effort to apply ‘drunken logic’ of some form or another on me. I remember verbatim almost a conversation between me and Andy. Andy apparently was a philosophic drunk.
Andy – “I know what the problem here is Rob. You need to get sick. You want to throw up, but you’re too embarrassed to do it here in front of your coworkers.”
Me – “No Andy, I don’t want to get sick. I don’t like getting sick, that’s why I’m walking.”
Andy – “Yes you do, you want to get sick and you don’t want to. You’re afraid you’ll get teased Monday at work.”
Me – “I’m not afraid of teasing. Believe me, if I wanted to throw up, I’d be doing it.”
This went on for some time. All the while, Andy had his arm around me and mine around him. It was the same for all the other drunks who were trying to talk me down. Apparently I was not walking very well and I’m guessing I needed physical support. I remember Kim coming out and talking to me briefly too. I told her I just needed to walk. Kim knew me well enough to at least know that whether or not I needed to walk was inconsequential. What was relevant was that I had it in my mind that I needed to walk and there wasn’t going to be any talking me out of it, so she didn’t try.
Stay tuned next week for Part Two. In the meantime, enjoy a little Jimmy Buffet (yes, we were all singing together to this)