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I Have Never...

Saturday, May 07, 2005


"I Have Never got really drunk with my work colleagues at Dialog."

When I was at 'the big chemical company', towards the end, my boss Colin accused me of being an alcoholic.

He'd organised to meet me in a cafe in the shadows of Old Trafford. We were to see a distributor that day and then have 'a chat'.

I don't think I've ever told anybody this.

The cafe was attached to some middle brow hotel. It was quite posh - you know, the type of place that has sugar crystals instead of just sugar. We ordered two cappucinos and sat down.

We were the only people in the place. Except for the waitress, who disappeared for the majority of the time.

It was eerie.

He dropped the bombshell. He'd been disappointed by my performance over the last 12 months, and was giving me 3 months to turn things around. Even then, he told me that he couldn't foresee me staying on the commercial side of the business and that I should look into a new role 'maybe in Germany'.

Having been to the German European Centre a couple of years prior, this was not an outcome I cherished. It's not that I've got anything against Germany, per se, it's just that it would have been the equivalent of relocating to Norfolk (not that I've got anything against... oh). I'm a city person, and this plant was 'in the sticks'.

What really hurt me that day was being accused of being an alcoholic, though.

"I think you've got a drink problem".

I didn't perceive it that way. Still don't.

He had witnessed me polish off large amounts of alcohol on numerous occasions, predominately at sales meetings soirees. Surely everybody drinks to excess at those events? The only difference was that, being rather larger in stature than the majority of the sales force, I could drink them under the table.

I remember one such event. We were at some posh hotel in the home counties. I took on the challenge of having a shot of each spirit the bar had. I succeeded, but had to lie low the next day for fear that I would still be over the limit if I attempted to drive home.

I look back to the day, sitting near Old Trafford. Still, I think:

"How DARE he?"

He hardly knew me. In the preceding 12 months, Colin had visited me only once. I'd attended 4 sales meetings.

On that basis he was accusing me of being an alcoholic.

Within the month, I rang him and told him I was resigning.

I went through a wilderness period (maybe I'll document it here in the future). Eventually, I became a manager.

I ensure now that I don't get (overly) drunk in the presence of work colleagues. Even last year, when the company I worked for folded, I still only had two pints and then went home.

I guess it's to do with control.

So why the heck I've agreed to go on a pub crawl this afternoon is anyone's guess...

"Why do the majority of UK residents perceive drinking to excess as a fitting pass-time?"

2 comment(s):

I've found the social/professional balance to be a difficult juggling act in the past. Swaying between the line of barely participating and excessive behavior seems to be as easy as another colleague entering the room. Every person with their own judgement and critique.

I have no answer to your question, but I enjoyed reading it.

By Blogger Adrian, at 10:13 am  

Skydiving!!! Always wanted to, but...

By Anonymous Quesnel_Herald, at 4:44 pm  

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