There was a time, more than a decade ago, that circumstances forced me to work two jobs. I would work from six in the morning until four in the afternoon at one job and from six at night until midnight or one in the morning at the other. This went on for about four months. It did strange things to me, both physically and mentally. The most obvious impact was on my ability to drive a car.
"How much have you had to drink tonight, son?"
I barely remember the face of the officer, a Massachusetts state trooper with his hat and uniform all so very correct. He pulled me over as I was travelling south on the highway sometime after one o'clock in the morning. It was a Friday night and I had just finished a long night working and wanted to go home to my bed. I was dozing off while driving, and as often happened in those days, I would find my eyes shutting and would force myself to keep them open, looking at the clock on the car radio and reminding myself "only fifteen more minutes to go." I would count down the minutes, knowing it was a little more than a half an hour from start to finish and telling myself "You can make it."
The odd thing was that I didn't get a ticket or even some kind of written warning. Once I told the state trooper that I had just gotten off of work and told him where, he looked me over and determined I was not drunk. He had me get out of the car and walk around in the chilly night air. I told him how I was working two jobs and that I was just very tired and needed to get home.
No citation. No ticket. I was put back behind the wheel with a lot of highway in front of me. The state trooper went back to hiding in the bushes and I went on my way. I continued to doze off. I continued to weave, sliding off the road towards the shoulder before snapping back to consciousness and pulling my car back onto the road. I was a danger to everyone on that highway and a danger to myself.
But I wasn't drunk.
And that's what really matters, isn't it?
DISCLAIMER: Although it goes against my normal policy to do this... A number of people seem to be under the impression that I am condoning drinking and driving. I am amazed that they have construed that from this writeup. I am not condoning drinking and driving by any means. The point is about crusades and how they can blind us. Please call a cab. Thank you.