Thought No. 7: Sunday / by Jennifer Wisniewski

"To drink or not to drink. That is the question"


If William Shakespeare owned a restaurant, I think he'd approve of me tweaking his soliloquy. I’m sure your workplace is volatile and stressful, just like mine. Now add to it this imaginary scenario: You have a well-stocked bar and a bartender at your desk. When something goes wrong – and your anxiety starts to build – that handsome bartender pops out and pours you your favorite cocktail. It’s tempting. It’s also important to add that there won’t be any repercussion for this action, because you don’t have a boss. You are the boss – and if you don’t police your cocktails, you’ll find yourself going from a moderate drinker to a heavy one, pretty quickly. It’s an easy equation: stress + alcohol everywhere + no judgment = a drinking problem.

I’m not an alcoholic, in the classic sense. Not that there's anything wrong with that.  However, since the restaurant opened, I’ve realized that I’ve turned to alcohol either to deal with anxiety or to relax after a stressful night. So, even if I don’t have a drinking problem, per se – that behavior is habit-forming and hard to break.

I have many friends that own bars and restaurants. They usually fall into two camps: either they’re sober – or quite the opposite. (A moderate drinker is hard to come by in this business.) In the first camp they may have a drink once in a while, but they don’t drink regularly. When I probe them on why they don’t drink, they simply explain that it just doesn’t agree with them anymore (and I stop asking questions.) The second camp has a drinking problem. They use alcohol to join the customer in the party. They’ve developed a public persona and, in order to get in that revelry state of mind, they have to drink. I liken it to a carnival ride they can’t get off of.

The latter is a cautionary tale, to me. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I know if I lean on any substance to get through the day, I'd not be as effective as a business owner as I’d like to be. It’s that simple. Everyone around me says “Well – just pull back” or “Just don't drink at particular times”, but if I leave the door open, even a crack – this business will always give me a reason to drink. 

If you visit the Alcoholic Anonymous website, you’ll find they’ve simplified the process of figuring out if you’re an alcoholic. (Yay!) There are twelve questions to fill out – and if you answer “yes” to four of them: you have a problem and should seek help. (Let the record state that everyone I know has a drinking problem and we all should caravan-it-over to our nearest local chapter.)

I am writing this blog post on my ninth day of sobriety and here’s what I’ve noticed so far:

1. You can get a headache even when you’re not drinking.

2. My dreams are more vivid.

3. My tongue is super smooth.

4. I need to rethink my hair.

5. ZZ Top is still great.

After culminating that list of deep introspective thoughts, I wonder what other gems of self-discovery I’ll uncover during sobriety. We shall see. I’ve been down this road many times before, but this time it seems different – like that final goodbye in a toxic relationship. You breathe a sigh of relief and start pondering the possibilities of your existence, without another problem slowing you down.

My Bar Manager, Aric, gives me 'til Tuesday. 

But, sobriety is the cake. Proving Aric wrong would simply be the cherry on top.

P.s. I'll be (sober) DJ’ing at Liar’s Club tonight. Stop by and watch me pay my Karmic debt.