Just before the Christmas break I made an exception from my usual hermitage and joined some coworkers at a bar after work. I had ginger ale. I seriously considered ordering a drink. All I wanted to do was relax and enjoy some company, as I typically do with my family on Saturday, and I couldn’t relax.
The conversation consisted of people complaining about their jobs, cynical boasting about how they had made shortcuts and misrepresentations, derision and dismissal of company improvement efforts, and demeaning jokes about people not present. When I describe it like that, it doesn’t sound much different than an hour with my family; we make frequent use of depreciating humor, and we complain about work, and we are cynical about flag-waving. But it was different; a lot different.
I don’t absolutely forbid myself alcohol. I’ve had it before and I will again. It just takes the full power of my sober faculties to keep me considerate of social sensibilities. Loosen me up a bit and I’ll cross that fine line between boisterous and obnoxious like the lead car in the Indy 500. What line? I have trouble keeping banter short of slander, and cynical humor short of black calumny, when I am in my right mind (as they say; doubtfully apt).
Somehow in the course of that evening the senior member of HR got wind of my social schedule (completely empty) and was so incensed that he took me by the lapels and shook me, admonishing me to get out more with young people my own age. There are abrasive and hot-headed people where I work, but this gentlemen is widely regarded as one of the more even-keeled and straight-laced, so I think that was frustration with the tragedy of our workplace and my seemingly throwing my entire promising young life into its maw than an alcoholic fervor. Yes; I need to get out more.
But where to go?