Lessons from the DQ and Why I don’t Drink

It can be awkward being a Baptist Minister.  It can be even more awkward when you don’t drink and you’re a Baptist Minister.   Baptists, if you don’t know, have a reputation when it comes to alcohol.  For a while a lot of Baptists were against drinking.  Though my understanding is it didn’t necessarily stop people.  But people assume that since I’m a  pastor that I don’t drink, that I am offended by alcohol being consumed, and even more insulted if I am offered any.

So when I go to someone’s home and say no to a beer or a glass of wine people are so worried and apologize profusely.  I feel bad actually because I don’t like making anyone who hosts feel bad.

Now the first reason I don’t drink wine or beer, or any alcohol, is I don’t like the taste.  The taste of alcohol does nothing for me so why spend money on it?  Now I know that it is an acquired taste like coffee.  I do drink coffee now and kind of like it.   So if I don’t like alcohol why don’t I try and aquire a taste for it?  That has a lot to do with a lesson I learned at DQ.

One of the jobs for newer staff at the end of the night was mopping floors in the whole restaurant.  Once I finally started working full shifts that was my job from 9:30 -11 pm every night I worked.   As I did so I started realizing the same people were there every night.  No matter what day I seemed to work on they were there almost every time.  After a while they started talking with me, and over a year or two I got to know them.  They always came in and took over a section drinking coffee and smoking (this was way back when you could smoke in the store).   Now I hate cigarette smoke so I didn’t enjoy that part, but the people were friendly and would often tease or joke with me.   I started learning their names and eventually I even began learning their stories.

This group that seemed to always be there were part of a group that I had only heard of but knew little about .  They were all a part of AA. I’ve wondered if my relationship with them would have been different if I knew that before I knew them….. either way I’m thankful I got to know them.  You see I didn’t just get to know their names and a few details, I started hearing their stories of life. I heard how alcohol changed them and consumed their lives.  Stories of driving to Calgary taking three days and they had no memory of that normally a three hour drive.   Stories of what they lost to alcohol. Stories of their brokenness.    Stories of their humanity.

I had known alcoholics before but I never had heard their stories.   Some were families, and others were acquaintances.  Now I had friends and they had shared the reality of the mess of their lives openly and honestlu.   I started looking inward.  I was still under 18 so I didn’t drink yet (I didn’t realize until later how many people drink under the age of 18).  I did drink pop and I could drink like a fish.   I began to realize that drinking was something I didn’t want to get into…. I didn’t want to find out  if I would be an alcoholic.   That may sound strange but I’ve long held a suspicion that I would be susceptible to alcoholism…. A perspective I still hold too.   So I made the choice not to drink.  I’m not offended by others drinking, but the stories I had heard had changed me.

Years later when I was a supervisor at DQ and later a manager, I saw alcoholism through a new light.  I began to realize how much underage drinking there was in Sherwood Park.  To say it was an epidemic would be to understate it.  What I saw affirmed my decision not to drink.  I saw the ‘need’ to drink drive their lives overtaking school and work.  Not for everyone, but for a chunk it did.  Alcohol became the deciding factor in life as to what was done, when, why and how.

So here I am today.  I still don’t drink.   I’ll maybe have a glass of wine at a wedding for toasting.  Maybe.  I still hold to my decision not to drink…. And I need to say that is definitely one of the biggest lessons I learned while working at the DQ.

I still think about the AA group at DQ.   I wonder where they are and I pray they are still sober.  I know marriage fell apart as did the health of some people.   I pray that the grace of God will guide them, heal them, and transform them.

One Comment

  1. Janelle said:

    Thanks for sharing, Mike. Your story sounds very similar to when I used to work in restaurants during my high school and college years. David and I have decided not to drink alcohol in our home for similar reasons but we don’t mind going out with others who do.

    May 13, 2017

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