The Professional Non-Drinker

Um, gross. Look what I saw on my way to work this morning outside the Park Central Hotel?

I know I said I love all things NYC, but bed bugs are the worst thing ever and they seem to be an epidemic in NYC. I have been fortunate enough never to have them in any of the apartments I’ve lived in and I hope you guys haven’t had to co-habitate with them either. They show up in the cleanest places too, including fancy Park Avenue buildings. If you are moving and want to make sure your new home will be BB free – you can look it up on this registry.

Ok, enough yuck for one morning.

Aren’t you glad it isn’t Monday anymore? I didn’t do anything fun last night except for catch up on my Sunday and Monday night DVR. Tonight I have a meet-and-greet for members of the Non Profit Board I serve on though, so that should be fun! Minus the fact that it’s at a wine-tasting place.

I’ve already given you some tips on how to stay sober at a college-ish party, so today I’m going to give you some tips on how to stay sober and sane at a work/professional-ish event. Here are some modified tips:

1. Call your sponsor or another friend from the rooms before you go to the event and let them know where you’re going and what time you plan to leave.

2. Bring someone who supports your recovery with you to the event. Either a fellow AA or someone close to you who won’t be drinking. Sticking together makes the whole thing a bit more bearable. You might be on your own with this one, but if you spot someone else not drinking – perhaps a pregnant colleague? Stick with them.

3. BYOS (bring your own soda) just in case it’s a lame college party and the host doesn’t consider that not everyone wants to drink from a keg. Order a cranberry with lime, seltzer, something fun. Don’t BYOB to a work event.

4. Don’t ever let someone hold your glass for you. You never know what could happen to it while you aren’t watching.

5. If you must travel by car to this party event, never volunteer to be the designated driver (see Tip 6 for why not).

6. Always have a way out. If you start to feel uncomfortable, don’t feel obligated to stay for any reason. Make sure you have a way to get home safely at all times.

7. Call someone in your network on your way home from the party event.

Most likely, people won’t be getting ish-faced at your professional event, but they will likely drink alcohol as it’s free and can make it slightly easier to socialize with people they’d rather not spend all your time with. All professional cultures are different though, so be prepared for the worst. Unlike at a college-ish party, you have to be polite to everyone and you may get the same uncomfortable questions. When someone asks you the following:

“Why aren’t you drinking?”

But you don’t want to let them know you don’t ever drink (and therefore avoiding more questions), here are some professional responses:

“Not tonight, big day tomorrow.”

“Getting over a cold, can’t drink on the antibiotics.”

“I’m on a health-kick.”

And then change the subject to something else. Ask them how there day was, etc. Of course if you want to tell them you never drink that is totally ok too. Just be prepared for a further line of questioning. Note: don’t give the “I’m a health nut” excuse for never drinking if you smoke cigarettes. Common sense is always appreciated!

In the end, it doesn’t matter what your colleagues think about your lack-of-drinking habit. They are more concerned with themselves than you, for the most part. So just don’t spill anything on them!

The good thing is, if you stay sober, the chances of you embarrassing yourself in front of someone important are very low. Also a bonus: if your colleagues do get drunk, they won’t remember if you do or say something stupid! When I was an intern they used to purposely put us in situations with alcohol to see how we could handle ourselves. Being sober, I did just fine. I can’t say the same for those who couldn’t handle their wine.

Today, in a professional environment I just tell people I don’t drink and say “It’s not for me.” If they ask if I’ve ever had a drink I’ll say I drank in college. Honest and yet not detailed. I wasn’t always comfortable being honest in this way, but it got easier the more and more comfortable I became with myself. Nothing in my response says, “Oh my God, I was such a mess and my life totally sucked until I stopped drinking.” Remember: it’s OK to refrain from full disclosure if it will protect your sobriety and your anonymity. I’m not sure you can be fired for being a known alcoholic, but most people will judge you. So just respect your anonymity and you will be safe!

What do you say when someone inquires about your beverage choice?



Filed under Beverages

4 responses to “The Professional Non-Drinker

  1. I love a little shock value so I turn on my biggest smile and say, “No thank you, I’m a recovering alcoholic”. Some people don’t miss a beat and others stand there with their mouths open. I know it’ s terrible but I just keep smiling and work the room. The other night my oldest and I went to see three artist’s work at a gallery. Lots of beautiful food and of course wine, but while most people stood around drinking their wine and looking at the art we were able to meet and speak with the artists. It was a great way to spend an hour and then we went out for some yummy Italian food. It’s funny I never thought I could give up wine and now I can’t imagine drinking it again. I guess I’m very content being a non-drinker and I appreciate the tips…..

    • Haha, I love people who have the courage to say that! I think I’m still pretty concerned with what others think of me…I know it’s none of my busiess though. But yes, I love the fact that taking alcohol out of the equation allows us to do things we never thought we would before.

  2. Funny. That bedbug looks just like he does in my nightmares. 😉

    We skipped a recent trip to NYC to visit friends because of the whole bedbug thing. Such a bummer.

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