Hop-Ed: America and Booze

Clown Shoes Brewing's "Evil Crawfish" (I drank this at 3pm). Photo by Alex Wilking.
Written by Alex Wilking

By Alex Wilking
BU News Service

America has a drinking problem.

We need to end the stigma that alcohol is somehow life-ruining if consumed in the morning or afternoon. That drinking a summer shandy while mowing the lawn, or enjoying a mimosa with breakfast, could even remotely be detrimental to our productivity. I’m not proposing anyone substitute their responsibilities with intoxication, but rather that we embrace the rest of the world’s views of alcohol.

America is really the only place that still demonizes drinking in the morning. My guess is that this stems from the 9am-5pm grind most people work. We’re quick to judge anyone that don’t conform to these guidelines, our motives usually anchored in the reality of alcoholism. We characterize these offenders as slaves to substance, unable to control their urges, their lives spiraling into disarray. Some people do suffer from alcoholism, but we can’t let their addiction set the precedent for the rest of us.

Most day drinkers in America still lead successful and responsible lives. Our society has shifted away from the systematic workweek and has people working overnights and sporadic hours throughout the day. Bartenders and employees with careers in nightlife are working all weekend and taking days off on Mondays and Wednesdays. That guy drinking a PBR with his morning coffee is more likely to be enjoying his day off work.

Americans used to flock to restaurants neighboring their offices for cocktails during lunch, and their bosses were totally fine with it. The Mad Men era depicts corporate executives with fine whiskeys and bourbons at the ready for when important guests stop by. These people weren’t getting drunk, but merely enjoying a relaxing moment away from their work.

If we convinced more Americans to drink for the taste instead of getting hammered, we could be more vigilant too. Many Europeans still head to a pub for a quick pint with lunch, but they aren’t getting wasted during business hours — they’re being cautious not to overdo it.

But we’re too much of a working nation to even consider that luxury. U.S. workers take significantly less, or shorter, lunch breaks than other countries, with NPR reporting that only 1 in 5 Americans step away from their desk for lunch. Our culture has us wolfing down sandwiches at our desks so we don’t get behind on work, enough so that The New York Times Magazine was able to devote a whole feature to employees snacking at their computers in their February 2016 issue.

If Americans could learn how to moderate their alcohol consumption, a single drink during the day won’t hinder productivity. If we stepped away from our desks once in awhile and notice how much of a labor-intensive nation we’ve become, the rest of the world’s acceptance of alcohol might not seem too shabby.

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