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Always Have a Plan

Always Have a Plan


I joined the Army when I was 17, so I was near the end of my first enlistment before I finally turned 21 and could legally drink. As a young, enlisted Soldier, I lived in the barracks — not exactly a place you want to hold a party. So, my plan was simple: I’d ride my motorcycle to my civilian friend’s house and we’d go out and celebrate my birthday from there. Not much of a plan, but it was a start.

I rode my Honda 350 Enduro to my buddy’s house. I wasn’t even inside the door before I had my first beer of the night. While we sat around discussing the evening’s plans, I drank three beers, and we hadn’t even left for the bar yet.

My friend and his wife took me to the bar in their car. I’d been there before using a fake ID, so everyone knew me. I don’t remember buying a single drink that night. It seemed like every time I turned around, someone else wanted to do a shot with me. But, hey, these were my friends and they wanted to help me celebrate.

We partied till the bar closed, downing our final shots as last call was announced. I’m not sure how much I drank, but I do remember hoping the alcohol wouldn’t kill me. It had been a hell of a party and I’d succeeded at my plan of getting trashed. Too bad that plan didn’t also include getting back to the barracks safely.

My buddy and his wife drove me back to their place, where we said our goodbyes. I got on my motorcycle and prepared to ride back to the barracks. The only problem was my motorcycle died as soon as I started it and, try as I might, I couldn’t get it restarted. My buddy came out and started my motorcycle for me. I remember him saying something about me being an idiot for forgetting to turn on the fuel. We laughed and I got on my bike.

I sped to the end of the street, where I had to make a left turn. As the streetlight got closer, I remember thinking, “I should be doing something.” Then it hit me … “Oh, yeah, the brakes!” Just as I grabbed the brakes, I looked up and saw the front tire hit the curb.

The next thing I noticed was there were a lot of stars that night. I remember that because I was lying on my back in the street looking up at them. I looked around and saw my motorcycle lying on its side with the handlebars bent 90 degrees from where they were supposed to be. My bike was leaking fuel and the shift lever was broken off. Beyond that, I’d broken my helmet visor and was bleeding from my arm, leg and hip.

So, what does a guy do when he is so drunk he rides his motorcycle into an immovable object? Call for help? Maybe get a taxi? Nope. I just picked up my bike, bent my handlebars back as best I could and rode home in second gear because I couldn’t shift.

I don’t remember how I got back to the barracks, but I clearly remember the next morning. When I rolled over in bed, pain shot through my body. My sheets were bloody, but they weren’t as bloody as my clothes, which I was still wearing from the night before.

Fortunately, I lived through this experience so I could later absorb some lessons learned. We have all heard the warning to not drink and drive, but that requires having a plan so you don’t have to ride or drive after drinking. Sure, I’d planned for my party, but what about afterward? I could have planned to stay with any of my friends, but I never asked. Or, as an alternative, I could have taken a taxi or bus home. I wasn’t looking out for myself. Unfortunately, neither was my buddy. If he had been, why would he have started my bike when I was too drunk to start it myself or allowed me to ride home drunk? The truth is he wasn’t looking out for me. A real friend would have done everything he could to not let me ride drunk.

The takeaways from this are obvious. First, if you’re planning to drink, then plan for what you’re going to do afterward. Stay with friends, have a designated driver or take a taxi. Don’t wait until you’re cross-eyed drunk to come up with a plan. Second, ask yourself who is really looking out for you — your drinking buddies or your real friends. You can tell the difference because real friends won’t send you off drunk to die on the highway. Make sure you plan to have your real friends looking out for you. It’ll beat waking up the next day a bloody mess — or not waking up at all.

  • 8 January 2023
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 256
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-2