Last week, I loaded the car with NABC draft beer and dispensing equipment, and Tony joined me for the Jeffersonville Main Street chili cook-off. We poured shot-sized samples for three hours and “shot” the breeze with attendees. As usual, it was great fun.
While reloading the jockey box for the trip back to Bank Street Brewhouse, I inadvertently jostled the taps and spilled beer on the seat. Our standard black tablecloth served as a convenient, impromptu mop-up towel. After all, it could be washed later … except I forgot to take it into the house for laundering.
Next morning, there was another errand to run, one too big for walking, and when I settled reluctantly into the car, there was a pervasive aroma of stale beer (and a wee trace of the cigar smoked some days before). Suddenly I felt thirty years younger. Once upon a time, this sensation was every morning’s olfactory prompting, and usually the previous evening’s empties remained buried somewhere under debris in the back seat.
Sometimes back then there was a full bottle or can smiling at me, still cool to the touch.
Sometimes back then, I drank it for breakfast.
That was then, and this is now. In between, there was (and remains) a process of personal evolution, filled with a litany of drinking and driving mistakes that fortunately did no harm. Since my involvement with NABC in 1992, through two apartments, two houses and two marriages, it has been my strategy to live as close to work (beers) as possible. Drunk walking might be bad, but it pales by comparison to drunk driving. No one’s perfect, but I’m a lot better than I used to be.
A beer-centered life has led to other insights emanating from the imperative to be responsible. Because long ago I chose drink to be a part of my existence, and saw first-hand the way Europeans did it, there developed a commensurate antipathy to the American auto-centric ways of life and sprawl. To me, a drinker who isn’t an advocate of urbanized public transit simply isn’t paying attention.
In his column last week, Matt Nash writes about county attorney Rick Fox’s recent DUI. I’ve nothing remotely snarky to say about this. How could I, when I’ve been there before?
Matt is right to state that drinkers are obliged to organize their lives responsibly, and for those of us in the business of serving alcoholic beverages, it is a pervasive consideration that governs every moment of our working lives — at least it should be, although I know full well that for too many operators, it isn’t.
While we inhabit different ends of the political spectrum, Rick’s a good guy and a valued downtown neighbor … and balance in one’s enjoyment of adult beverages can be wickedly hard to find and maintain. That’s true for all of us who choose to imbibe. As Winston Churchill understood, the goal is to take more out of drink than it takes out of you. No one said it would be easy, and we’ve organized a transportation grid to make it even harder. But we have to do our best.
All I can say is what I’ve said for a very long time: Think when you drink. I wish Rick the best. He’s a bright fellow, and he’ll learn from it.
NASH: Commissioners should use DUI to set an example, by Matthew Nash (Proverb Coagulator)
Getting pulled over for driving under the influence is an embarrassing situation, but being embarrassed is not punishment enough for the crime.