It started innocently enough.
I was living off of St. John Street, right next to Pizza Villa. If you’ve never been there, Pizza Villa is awesome. It’s dive-y, the meatballs are amazing and the beer is really cheap. Very soon after I landed a new job waiting tables, I was moving far, far away from the Villa, over to Munjoy Hill. I wanted to get in as much cheap beer and meatballs as I possibly could, and that entailed going before work on occasion.
The pre-work ritual then became to hit the Front Room. It’s in close proximity to my new apartment and serves $2 glasses of wine from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Blogs like Portland Food Coma often chronicle such debauchery as drinking on the job. Offices have Beer-thirty Friday. I’d seen people at my job take shots during their shift. Some of the other girls came to work after a few drinks. Before I even started waiting tables I once saw an entire staff go behind the bar of a fine dining establishment and take a shot. It’s not like I was getting behind the wheel of a car or anything— it never felt like I was doing anything wrong.
After a few months of this, I was boozing all the time. I had even started drinking vodka and soda water, for fear of the tell-tale beer belly. Once, I went out to the Armory to use their wireless, since the internet was down at my apartment. I got some work done, had three very strong drinks, then decided it was a good idea to go do karaoke by myself at the Old Port Tavern. There, I ran into this other karaoke DJ, a washed-up 80s hair metal dude, celebrating his birthday, by himself… I know what you’re thinking. We didn’t hook up. But I woke up with a mean hangover, a penny stuck to my ass and my cat glaring at me for sleeping in until noon.
The night I got fired for showing up drunk, I didn’t realize what I was doing; I was already under the influence when I ordered a third drink on my way to work. It was a really stupid idea to start drinking before work. But I was drinking all the time. It became a habit, which turned into a problem.
I was ashamed. A few beers cost me a job I loved and paid really well, and I was actually good at.
I decided to make some changes in my behavior, and it’s been working out really well. Going cold turkey didn’t seem like a viable option, so I gave myself some parameters: don’t drink during the day; don’t drink alone; don’t have more than one drink per hour; and take days off. I keep less alcohol in the house, and now that I’m supporting myself on a menial work-study job, drinking less is better for my budget, too. It’s like I’m a responsible adult again.
Amanda is a student and blogger, whose writing can be found and commented on at amandajennifer.blogspot.com.