A few weeks ago I was on a sunset cruise on the Southbank river. A good friend of mine had a spare ticket, so I got to be their plus one! It was fantastic, a 4 hour cruise on the most amazing open plan boat you have ever seen. The food was incredible, the music on point, the company was perfect and the glorious rays of the Sunday sun were just enough to keep the winter chill away. For the first 2 hours, everyone was having a great time. We were 10 in a sea of about 250 people. For the first 2 hours the general feeling around the boat was how lucky we all felt to be sharing this experience with one another. But slowly, this feeling was replaced by a little tension and anxiety, as everyone on the boat became a little more and more intoxicated.
I went to the bathroom upstairs and as I got into the free one, there was a female banging on an occupied door. “Kate, open the door,” she said. “I’m sick of this bull-crap, can you just open the door,” she continued. There was no reply from the other side, despite her attempts to rip the door open. I was in there for two minutes maybe, but realised quite quickly, that there was not even the sound of movement coming from the occupied stall.
Something was very wrong.
I ran out and told someone from management that there was a girl locked in the bathroom, that she was not responding to her friends and I thought she may be passed out. Quick as the Flash he sent for someone to get in there.
There was another woman close by and overhearing my words she shouted over my way, “Oh she’s been in there for the past two hours, she was in there when I went to the toilet earlier.”
I was dumbfounded.
Did she just say what I think she said? That she knew and had done nothing about it? That the friends of the unresponsive girl had been in there for the last 2 hours and not called anyone to come and help? That this poor girl in the bathroom was unresponsive, possibly dead while all her friends could do was yell and scream at her from the other side of the door to get out of there. That not one single person who went in and out of that toilet during this time, thought they should notify someone or call security to unlock that door and check to see if she was okay.
I was livid…
There was a woman right out the front of this toilet sitting with her partner with a smirk on her face listening to what was going on. She sat there with this amused look on her face and she did nothing. Another woman finding out about the girl in the bathroom became aggressive, ridiculing her, trying to get into that bathroom to berate her.
Once the word was out, all around me people were saying things like, “oh, she’s just had too much to drink,” or “what an idiot,” or “I’m so glad I’m not her friend.” There were rolling eyes and looks of frustration, annoyance and amusement. Not one person asked if she was okay.
What kind of a person are you when you’re more interested in having a good time instead of checking on the well being of a fellow human? What kind of a person are you when you see this person as a stain upon your shoe because their physical state is ruining your fun? What kind of person are you when you find someone’s misfortune or mistakes amusing? How did we become this society with so much lack of empathy and compassion?
What if it were you in that bathroom?
What if no-one around you deemed it necessary to help you, but instead they ridiculed you and laughed at you?
What if it were your sister or your daughter in that bathroom?
What if they died…
Thankfully, as we were making our way off the boat I caught a glimpse of her being removed from the bathroom and taken to sit on a couch. Her head was rolling all around her shoulders and she couldn’t keep herself sitting upright. She was clearly highly intoxicated, but at least she would be okay.
My frustrations over this situation pushed me to delve into questions of why? Why do people become like this when they are intoxicated? Why do they become uncaring human beings that desire one specific thing only – pleasure? Why do people become aggressive and defensive? Does alcohol really exaggerate personal characteristics that are already there or how you were feeling before you started drinking? There are so many studies about alcohol and how it affects certain components in our brain, causing different outcomes. There’s no two ways about it, if you plan to have a BIG night, you will lose your inhibitions. You will care less and might end up in a brawl or passed out.
If no-one was drinking on that boat and that girl in the bathroom was in there for something else other than over-intoxication then I am so sure it would have been a completely different story. She would of been attended to as a human in need and not a leper.
So how do we reconcile these two states of being and how we respond to it?
Well, if you hold enough self-control over yourself I am all for that. But more than likely a glass of wine is something you look forward to after a hard days work, so there’s no point in asking you to give that up. But something needs to be said for drinking in moderation and drinking sensibly. Alcohol does not excuse bad behaviour. If you can’t behave appropriately on it then it is high time you changed your habits.
If you’re getting so drunk and abusive that your friends are telling you about your appalling behavior the next day then it’s time to stop. It’s time to recognize that you have a problem and do something about it.
I have been on the other side of abusive drunken people numerous times, I’ve even been the abusive drunken one myself. It mostly stems from a deeper issue, but if you don’t recognize this you won’t be able to change. You take to the drink because it numbs your feelings that you want to escape, but you end up on that floor of that bathroom. You take to the drink because you want that euphoric feeling that makes you care less and in the process you become those self-centered, selfish people on that boat that don’t give a crap about anyone else but yourself.
Maybe it’s not cool enough to do it, but who cares – I say, drink sensibly and in moderation. Go out with a plan of action, something you and your friends can agree on. You know when you’ve reached your limit or when you’re getting ever so close to it, so hold yourself back.
If you know you can’t hold your liquor but want to maintain your composure while still staying out till the wee hours of the morning with all your friends, then limit your intake per hour. Don’t do shots, or if you do, that’s your drink for the next hour. Drink a glass of water after every drink, it can be sparkling water with ice & lime if you don’t want to look out of place while everyone else has cocktails.
If one of your friends decides they need to be the life of the drunken party and they get wasted within an hour, make the decision to get them home safely. There will always be another weekend, another party, another festival or club you can go to next time – anytime.
But this person drunk on this bathroom floor – ‘your friend’ that needs your help right now, may not be here next time. Drink responsibly or don’t drink at all, as long as you’re looking after the people you are with. As long as their well being is as much a first priority as yours.