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Posts Tagged ‘drinking’

100 college presidents have gotten together to try to convince the government to lower the drinking age to 18.

They are being opposed, of course, by MADD and what I started to write about the drinking age turned into a little rant against MADD. Which I am saving for later. First, a repost from six years ago, detailing a summer job I had with MADD. This is what started my distrust of the organization which, years later, turned into an outright disdain for them. Below that, some topics for open discussion, if you are so inclined.

shake wellsucky summer jobs: #22 in a series, original publish date, 3/22/2002

I got tired of working at my uncle’s deli and wanted to move on to something more challenging. I needed to do something more worthwhile than slicing salami as a way to pay for my nighclubbing and drinking. Something that wouldn’t leave me smelling like head cheese at the end of the day.

A friend of a friend of a cousin told me about this place that was hiring. It sounded an awful lot like a telemarketer job, which I would never do, but it was for a charity, and therefore didn’t count as telemarketing. Right?

The first day of the training seminar proved that point. Our team leader stood up in front of us and told us we were not to call ourselves telemarketers. We were activists. We were paving the way for change. We were catalysts in the fight against drunk driving. We were the few, the proud, the people begging for money for a cause. I left the seminar feeling like I was doing something useful with my life. My naive ideals were soaring.

The second day, the altruism took a back seat to the sales pitch. Sales? I thought we were activists! Our team leader spoke in basketball metaphors for two hours; driving to the basket, blocking the shots, finally hitting the three-pointer with just seconds to go. When I left the seminar, I felt less like an activist and more like Dr. J.

The third and final day should have clued me in on what I was in for. Our fearless leader drilled us on the fine points of clinching the donation. Cite statistics. Make them feel bad. Tell them stories. She then handed out photocopied news clippings of horrid, tragic car accidents resulting from drunk driving. We were to tell our potential donors some of these stories if all else failed. If we had them in tears by the end of the call, we would be the superstars of the office. My stinging conscience was kicking my naive ideals in the head.

I figured I would give it two days tops. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe, because this was a worthy cause and one people were very concerned about, I wouldn’t have to make the hard sell. Sure! People would just give willingly! I would never have to utter a harsh word or tell a tragic story or make anyone cry. This would be a piece of cake, and my conscience would be left intact.

I was directed to a tiny room in the basement, where the walls were lined with little wooden cubicles. I was directed to my very own cubicle. On the desk was a phone and a kitchen timer. The wall I faced was lined with the same newspaper clippings that were passed out at the seminar. Those people in those stories, I was told, they are counting on you. They are watching you. I was told to set the timer at the beginning of each call, and that I was to keep each caller on the line for a minimum of one minute of soft selling. After one minute, I should start the hard sell. I was given a list of 100 numbers to start out with.

I noticed that the neighborhood I was cold calling was a wealthy one. This made me feel a little better. At least these people had money to spare. Maybe I wouldn’t have to reduce anyone to tears.

After a half hour, I didn’t have any donations. Apparently, all the people on my list had housekeepers. And none of them spoke English. At least not to telemarketers. The team leader came over and looked at my tally sheet. She was not pleased. I explained the situation. I can’t reach anyone who speaks English, I told her. And even if they did speak English, they would say that they are just the housekeepers, that I should call back.

“They’re lying to you,” she said.
“The housekeepers are lying?”
“They’re not really the housekeepers, you idiot!” Her breath stunk like garlic pickles. I tried to move my head back from hers, but she leaned in on me until our foreheads were touching.
“Are you going to believe every inconsiderate person who comes on the line and tells you a reason why they can’t give? Are you a sucker? Are you that naive? Let them know you know they’re lying! These people depend on you!” She pointed to the tragic news stories on the wall.
“But…but….”
“No buts. Tell them. Tell them if they don’t give money, they will feel horrible next time something like this appears on the evening news. They will understand that. They will understand guilt. And trust me, they understand English.”

I weighed my options. What was this job going to pay me anyhow? If I couldn’t make a sale I would be bringing home less than minimum wage. It would barely pay for one night’s admission to the club. I could go back to the deli. It wasn’t so bad. The people were nice. I didn’t have to make anyone cry in order to sell a pound of liverwurst.

I stood up and faced my leader. I told her I was done. This wasn’t the job for me. Told her I’d rather smell like head cheese than spend another day with her poking and prodding my conscience. She didn’t get the part about the head cheese. She probably didn’t get the part about having a conscience, either.

————

So that’s where my disdain for the the zealot organization known as MADD started. I realized soon after that they are really not against drinking and driving, they are against drinking, period.

I will tackle the issue of the drinking age later, but I would love to know what you think about it lowering the age to 18. Or what you think about MADD.

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The Party Mom

This woman in Virginia is going to jail for allowing her 16 year old son and his friends to drink in her home.

Interesting, as I was going to write a little something about this subject today, anyhow. The daughter (17) is having a party at our house in two weeks. Most of her friends are of the straight-edge variety, but still, I’ve warned her: there is no drinking on my property. I will call the parent of anyone who brings any alcohol into my yard.

I’m not trying to be a hard ass. I’m trying to protect my ass. There’s a new law here that means jail time for those caught serving alcohol to minors. Whether or not you actually served it doesn’t matter. If they are drinking in your home, you are responsible. Besides, what message does it send to your kids and their friends if you are implying that they need alcohol to have a good party?

Yea, I know what I was doing at my daughter’s age. I know what most kids this age do. That doesn’t mean I have to condone it.

My problem with this Virginia women is that many news articles have been sympathetic to her, and she thinks she did the right thing, not the wrong thing.

Maybe if it was just her kid she was serving alcohol to, I wouldn’t be so unsympathetic toward her. But she not only gave a bunch of other kids liquor, she purposely misled their parents about it.

When you have kids over your house, you become responsible for them. Letting them do something – something illegal – that their parents don’t want them to do is, simply, wrong.

Does she deserve such a lengthy jail term for this? Probably not. But that’s the law they have in Virginia and she should have thought about that before she went through with her plan. You break the law, you deal with the consequences if you get caught. Giving alcohol to someone else’s underage kid, regardless of whether or not they were going to drive, is not only illegal, but a completely irresponsible thing to do.

I discussed this story with my own daughter when I told her the “no alcohol” rule for her party. She responded with “We have plenty of fun without drinking. My friends don’t need alcohol to have a good time.” I’m not naive enough to think that once she goes off to college she will still adhere to that, but for now she is a 17 year old living in my home and she’ll abide by my rules. I’m just happy that she thinks it’s a good rule.

Way before I had children, back when I thought I knew everything, I always said I was going to be the “cool” parent and not be as strict as my own parents. But I found out real quick that being the “cool” parent often means not being a good parent. I don’t believe in the whole “they’re going to drink anyhow, so let them drink at home” thing. Why start them off thinking that getting fall-down drunk is ok? Why let them believe that a party isn’t a party unless someone is puking into the living room plants? Yea, they are probably going to go to another party another night at another house and there will be booze and liquor. Hopefully, my insistence on no alcohol at my own house and my daughter’s attitude toward it will keep her from drinking at a party where the “cool” parents live.

I can’t control what my kids do when they are not at home, but I can make sure I lay the groundwork for them to know what responsible behavior is by setting an example in our house.

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seeing life at the bottom of a bottle and/or ashtray

I need to quit smoking again.

Last time I quit – January 2005 – I went cold turkey. Just decided it was time and that was that. It wasn’t easy – I was in a murderous rage for about three weeks – but I did it.

I’m usually pretty good at quitting things. Every project I start, every novel I begin, ever club I ever joined as a kid, I quit about halfway through. It’s so easy to just give up sometimes.

Did I mention I quit drinking? Aside from one drink I had the night of August 26th, 2006, I haven’t had a drink since last March. It wasn’t any real big event that prompted me to quit; it’s not like I sat myself down and said, self, you need to stop drinking. I guess my reasons for drinking were gone.

I wasn’t really a social drinker. I was one of those people who drank to get drunk. Who got drunk to get to the point of being able to shut off that part of my brain that did my thinking for me.

I told myself it was social.

A margarita during lunch is social. Having five shots of tequila with it is probably not. At least not during work lunchtime.

A martini after dinner is social. But when you give up on the martini glass, then give up on the vermouth, then just give up all together and drink the gin out of the bottle, it has stopped being social.

Gin is the ultimate “I hate my life” drink. Drinking cheap gin out of the bottle is akin to punishing yourself for something.

Let me tell you. It’s hard work spending your days pretending to have a life that you don’t. It’s taxing on the brain and the body and the soul to walk through life carrying a wheelbarrow full of lies around every day.

For most people, the solution would be to fix that. For me, the solution was to drown it. If you don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist! It’s like turning up the car radio when your engine is making a funky noise. Just mask the problem and it goes away.

At some point, that little spark that was still left in my brain alerted me to the fact that getting piss drunk every single night was probably not the best solution to the problem. The best solution, of course, would be getting rid of the problem.

And so another phase of my life began. Or ended, depending on your view.

I’m not going to fill in all the chunky little details that go between that revelation and March, 2006. Suffice it to say that the gin went down the drain along with a few other things. And you know the whole cliche about one door closing and another opening…or is that window? Either way, that’s what happened and here I am. Not drunk, not lying, not bitter, not weary and finding myself thinking quite often during the day, so this is how it feels to be happy? Well I’ll be damned.

Anyhow, as I was saying. I need to stop smoking.

Welcome to PMS week at ABV.

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