Think, Think, Think During the Holidays (and Everyday)

Photo: barreralawfirm.com
Photo: barreralawfirm.com

While drunk driving and drug related traffic accidents are down in the last couple years, they are still too high.  According to statistics on MADD, 9, 878 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2011. 

I am not here to talk about statistics and percentages.  We can read stats on websites and billboards all day long, but realistically, they are just numbers and numbers do not hit home nor the heart.

I am here to talk about common freaking sense.

When we put chemicals into our body, even cold medicine, it alters our state of consciousness and our senses become warped.  We might think we are driving “perfectly fine” after just a couple of drinks, one hit of marijuana, or a couple of pills, but the truth is the effects of any drug effect us.

You may or may not have a drinking problem. Chances are if you or someone you know thinks it is okay to drive while intoxicated, there most likely is an issue with drinking that goes deeper than just being selfish and without regard for others. 

Here are some tips for partying (without injuring yourself or others) during the holiday season:

  • Have a designated driver.  This works.
  • KNOW your limit.
  • The switch off.  Drink water between every drink and for God’s sake EAT SOMETHING.  Still: DO NOT DRIVE.  This method is good for helping you or someone not turning into a belligerent drunk.
  • Keep an eye on friends or people you are with.  If someone is drinking too much, make sure you take their keys (with our without them knowing it). They might get angry with you, but an angry friend is better than a dead friend.
  • Make sure you don’t have to drive.  Plan a ride ahead or have money for a cab.

If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, go over to aa.org and get some information on how to get help and how to find a meeting. 

Have a fun and safe holiday season!

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Friday Flash Fiction – Resistance

Minetta Tavern
Minetta Tavern (Photo credit: Gandhu & Sarah)

Carson Smithers sat on the bar stool as the clock struck the eight o’clock hour.  He had been on that bar stool for the last three hours staring at the now warm beer on the ratty coaster in front of him.  The day’s work had ended in shambles along with a verbal tirade from his boss in front of his co-workers; even Jenny, the hot girl from the cubicle at the end of the hall.

“Hey, buddy, you gonna drink that or do you want a fresh one?”  The burly bartender asked as he wiped the old, wood bar down with a wet rag.  Carson watched as the bartender methodically picked up coasters, wiped, put coasters down, and wiped all the way to the other end of the bar without missing a piece of the bar or spilling a drink.

Carson looked up sheepishly and nodded while he pushed the perspiring glass to the edge of the bar and pulled his cigarettes from his pocket.

The jukebox started playing an unfamiliar country western song as someone broke the rack on the pool table.  Carson counted three balls that dropped into the pockets without looking at them rattling around on the fuzzy green felt of the table.

His eyes gazed across the pool table, across the jukebox, across the blonde-haired woman with the heaving breasts and over to the repaired wall to the left of all the action.  He remembered making that hole over ten years ago in a drunken rage over a different blonde-haired woman so long ago.

The bar stool shrieked as he pushed it back with his legs to stand up.  All of the memories that flooded back reminded him of all the reasons why he stopped drinking and took steps to change his life.

The bartender rushed down to Carson, “hey buddy, you leaving already?  You bought two beers and didn’t take a sip from either.  What gives?”

Carson tossed a ten-dollar bill on the bar and said, “Sorry, man.  I got to get to a meeting.”

Twenties

When i was in my twenties, I was an idiot.  I’m not sure why some people in their twenties (like my upstairs neighbors) lose capacity for rational thinking.  It could be the surge of hormones and the raging desire to do things that, at the time, seem cool.  Things like, renting out your apartment as a party spot.  This is not only stupid, but dangerous.

Thankfully, I made it to thirty-seven.  I can now look back at the ridiculous acts I committed and stunts I pulled, and shake my head in sheer embarrassment much like anyone else after their moment of clarity.

I have a bright, beautiful, compassionate twenty year old daughter.  On the flip side, she is also lazy, spontaneous to a fault, and lacks common sense at times.  This makes her guilty of nothing a million other twenty somethings, past, present and future, are not equally guilty of.

While I’d like to paint a picture of myself as that standout, mature composed twenty something, I was much more stupid than my daughter (thankfully) and can pass on valuable information to her and anyone else that will listen.

I know we all need to go through our share of turmoil and frustration.  After all, it is not the successes we learn from, but the failures.  There is, however, a fine line between stupid, and really freaking stupid.

This brings me to my upstairs neighbors.  Who, in thirty days, will no longer be my upstairs neighbors.  This sits bitter-sweetly with me.  I wish greatly that there were no others involved in the eviction that the family upstairs received this morning.  I hope for their sake the mother/wife gets her act together.

It was Saturday night and my boyfriend was at his second job.  I had off from my second job this weekend because it was my Saturday night to have dinner with my daughter.  I got home from seeing my daughter around 7:30 to the sounds of loud music and voices.  No biggie.  It was only 7:30 pm.  I dashed out the door to meet some old friends I hadn’t seen in years. We ate, laughed and parted ways about 9:30.  I came back home to louder music and banging.  It was getting late, and I was slightly annoyed.  But it was before 10 pm.

My boyfriend came through the door at 10:15 pm.  The noise was still unbearable and we just gave each other a “this is ridiculous” look and discussed who would go up and knock to tell them to please keep it down if it continued.  We even dug out the copy of the lease to make sure we were not overreacting.  Right there in the lease it stated: “No loud music, noise or banging that infringes on the comfort of neighboring tenants”.

I was elected.  My boyfriend said it’d be good for me since I am terrible at confrontation. After rolling my eyes along with various reasons why I disagreed, I went to go chat with the upstairs neighbors.

As I climbed the steps, I could see the overhead light on in the parlor.  The blinds were cracked and hanging lopsided and there were empty beer cans on the small landing outside the door.  The music was annoyingly loud and I realized at that moment I had crossed my internal threshold of age.  When I got to the landing and was able to look in the door, I saw five people sitting in various types of chairs that I had never before seen.  I knocked on the door careful to keep my face expressionless.

The twenty something kid closest to the door answered.  I stepped into the doorway slightly, but never into the apartment.  I was able to look to the left and see two more people sitting along the wall, also on mismatched chairs.  I asked where the couple was that lived there.  The kid at the door said the girl would be back.  I then asked them if they could please keep it down.  The ceilings are paper-thin, I said.  The kid said sure, I said thank you and retreated down the steps.

As I walked down the steps, the first thing that popped in my head was, who the hell are all of those people.  I had never seem any of them at the apartment.  Secondly, where the hell was the living room furniture?  I went back into my apartment, explained what I said and what I saw to my boyfriend and contemplated calling the cops.

I did not call the cops.  I didn’t feel it was police worthy.  Calling the cops would have brought flashing red and blue lights and a bunch of drama.

At about 12:30 am, the girl came home and my boyfriend lunged off the couch.  He flung the door open and yelled something like, “Yo, can you keep it down? It’s after midnight and it’s freaking loud.”
She apologized, went up the steps and several minutes later, it was quiet.  She came stomping down the stairs a while later and my boyfriend looked out the door to see her get back in her car with an open beer can.

The noise started again, and went on until 2:30 am, intermittently.

My boyfriend and I decided that we needed to tell the landlord in the morning.  We went to the convenience store he owns, and sure enough he was standing at the end of the deli counter where he often times is every morning.  We told him everything that transpired and he said, “That’s it.  They’re getting an eviction notice.”

The boyfriend knocked on our door this morning and asked what happened.  Apparently, they were served the eviction shortly after we went to talk to the landlord.  It turns out that he and she were living together but separated.  She doesn’t work and he can’t afford to get his own place.  This explained to me why there were numerous men over the apartment at odd times and why he was never around.

My boyfriend went outside on the step to talk to the boyfriend and came back in.  I felt bad for the boyfriend and the little girl, who I found out was upstairs with the seven strangers while the girlfriend was off getting more pot and beer.  For the daughter’s sake, I hope to hell the mother gets help.

As we sat on the couch and reminisced about our twenty something years we heard the boyfriend yelling at the girlfriend about his daughter being in a house full of strangers.  Then it clicked.  Addiction makes people do stupid things.