When I was a teenager, I worked part-time at a local government office – quite a large one with perhaps 200 people employed in the one building. At the stroke of 12:00, several times a week, the building would empty, people would carpool to the nearest restaurant and have a proper, sit-down lunch. Lunch included bottles of wine, pitchers of sangria, bottles of beer, and a margarita or two.
At the stroke of 2:00 these same people returned to work, many of whom had stopped for a quick joint in the parking lot. They worked another three hours, and went back to the restaurant to get that buzz going again.
In the late 70’s, at least in my little world, that was regular behavior. Drink excessively at lunch, drive back to work drunk, pretend to work for a few hours and then head back to drink some more. Nothing unusual about that.
Until one night when after a drunken lunch, and a drunken evening, one of my co-workers, Pam, drove home. Another co-worker, doing her a favor, decided to follow her to ensure she got home safely. Follow her! Not drive her! Well, Pam didn’t get home safely and apparently having someone following her didn’t prevent her from driving off the side of a hill. We didn’t find out about the accident until the next day at work when Pam didn’t arrive on time. A few broken bones, a lot of stitches, and a totaled car later, she came out of it with a simple moving violation and no jail time. She continued to drink, continued to do drugs, and the last I heard, she was working in a Circle K at the age of 70.
After high school, I spent a few years in Europe. The routine there was much the same, except we would only work until 11:00, when the bars opened. We would drink until we were out of our minds, or kicked out, whatever came first, and return to work. We would stay there, play some cards, smoke some cigarettes, and kill time until the bars opened again at 5:00. Not much work was ever done in those days.
Those hazy, drunken days of employment are gone. I don’t know when they changed, but I sure don’t know anyone now who regularly gets drunk with their boss during the workday. Employer-sanctioned drinking seems to have gone the way of the rabbit-ear antenna. Those were the good (but not productive) old days.