What Else But Alcohol?

My friend, Will, and I meet for breakfast every Friday at Whelan’s Coffee Shop, a warm, cozy place right on the main street where I live, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. If you want to get up-to-date on any civic matter, Whelan’s is the place. We drink coffee. We talk. We find out what’s being going on around town. The latest is a lulu.
It seems this fellow leaves a local watering hole at closing time. The entire main street of the Oconomowoc is torn up, and has been for several months. Massive sewer and water updates, new road entirely, widening of sidewalks and the works. The guy, who obviously has been over served, gets into his large SUV and goes on a joy ride in the construction zone. He does a few thousand dollars worth of damage, at least enough to delay the finish of the project 10 days! He wasn’t caught right away, but a few hours later the police found him at home, sleeping it off, with a damaged truck in his garage. He wasn’t charged with DUI, because the proper testing could not be conducted, but the police made sure everything else was thoroughly documented and several citations were issued. However, I think if tests were taken, the police would have discovered that the man was still legally intoxicated. We’ll never know that.
This is a common occurrence. Somebody gets his shoes filled and the drive home becomes an adventure. Nobody was hurt. But this kind of behavior is potentially deadly, like playing Russian Roulette with a large truck.
Is this guy an alcoholic? I don’t know. Does he have some alcohol-related condition, other than his alleged intoxication at the time? I don’t know. The point is, as much as we can sometimes laugh at boneheads like this guy, it isn’t funny. He didn’t hurt anybody. He did some damage and he’s going to pay for it hopefully. But it’s outrageously bad behavior that the community cannot tolerate. I am sure to him it’s no big deal, other than the fact that it looks like something went wrong on the way home. I’m sure, to his way of thinking, he’s probably a little embarrassed but hopeful that his lawyer will get him off the hook, with a lesser fine and no jail time.
I’m sharing this because I too become numb to these kinds of stories. We see videos on television of police arresting people for DUI and the subsequent idiot behavior that takes place. Television producers run this still because people find it entertaining. But are we outraged? Do we take action in our neighborhoods and communities to say no to this kind of behavior? Think of it this way, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, smoking was glorified. It was sexy in the movies and cigarette ads were all over television. But all that changed in the 1960’s. Today, it’s not OK to smoke. People said no. Why not say no to foolish dinking the same way? To the drunk driver you say “You’re not funny, you’re a menace.” To the repeat DUI offender you say “You will not drive anymore, period, and we will take whatever steps are necessary to make sure you never drive again.”
Prohibition didn’t work and prohibition isn’t the answer. It just made the problem worse. Individual responsibility is the answer. People are responsible for their own behavior, drunk or otherwise. I seem to recall an episode of “Law and Order” about a man who did not remember killing a person with his car because he was too drunk at the time. I don’t care if somebody is too drunk to formulate criminal intent, if they commit crimes while drunk and behind the wheel, they are responsible. I am not without guilt here. I too have driven home after a night on the town, sometimes waking up the next day not really knowing how I got home. I didn’t get caught and by the grace of God, I never got into an accident. It was a stupid, foolish thing to do.
Closing time joy rides aren’t funny. All of us, drinkers and non-drinkers alike, need to say no to this kind of behavior. Like smoking, we need to stop drunk driving.

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About The Author, Ned Wicker
Ned Wicker is the Addictions Recovery Chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital Lawrence Center He author’s a website for alcoholism support:


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