Realigned Reflections: Part.1
I woke to a scream.
As my vision began to come into focus, I made out the face of a horrified older woman. She hid behind a curtain as she watched me with wide eyes. I sat up from my slumber and immediately questioned her judgement on the situation— why was she so afraid? After all, she was the one behind a glass door and I was the one who was abruptly woken up.
Then my brain coughed up a flicker of consciousness. I turned the questions on to myself—why exactly was I sleeping outside? It may have been a premimum dog bed, but why was I curled up on it? Wait a minute, am I supposed to be on a porch? I was lost.
As I stumbled to my feet, I reached my cowboy hat that laid next to me. Looking for clues, the hat’s clean appearance only reminded me what I already knew—it had not seen a single day on an actual ranch, and the chances of every doing so was slim.
I gave an awkward wave to the gray-haired woman and stepped into the bright sun. As I made my way to the street, a cop car and ambulance were pulling up to meet me. When the cops sat me down and asked me where I thought I was, my confidence was unable to hide the fact that my answer was not even in the correct state.
I sheepishly accepted the $500 dollar fine, disguising my relief when they determined that jail was not necessary. But that relief was only temporary as I realized I’d have to put myself at risk of doing the same thing again the following evening. It was part of my job.
It was the summer of 2014 and my job as a wine & spirits representative had taken me across the state of Wyoming. Stuck in jeans and cowboy boots, one of our whiskeys was sponsoring the biggest rodeo in the state—with free concerts and VIP events. This is where the blackout porch party occurred.
My life and alcohol had always been joined at the hip. As my parents happened to own the company that required drinking at my work meetings. Their success was admirable, and it often made me the cool(er) kid at parties I attended growing up.
That’s because being a good liquor representative involves a two step process:
Give away as much shit as you possible can.
Make people like you
If followed in the right order, the process was simple and effective.
The shit consisted of stereotypical college kid/frat house decor and nice enough apparel that appealed to any slightly intoxicated patron. Shirts, hats, signs, and cases full of ‘mini’ alcohol bottles containing just enough to feel it were all leveraged to gain friends in liquor stores, restaurants, bars, and any event that involved drinking. Playing the part of a friendly cowboy, I tended to be a well-liked person in Wyoming liquor industry.
As soon as I turned 21, I dove straight into character and gained success immediately. My ego was satiated by the attention and feeling of significance that was felt previously in my golf career. Winning a tournament and walking into bar with free T-shirts both had the same effect— New best friends that were eager to buy me a drink.
But as time passed, the friendly faces meant less and blackouts occurred more. As I stepped out of the shower and slicked my hair back, I felt numb by the previous night’s adventure. This might have been the first time I had slept on a porch, but it was far from my first blackout of the summer. Attempting to retrace my steps, I hypothesized that I had walked in the wrong direction of my hotel, ultimately finding refuge in the backyard of a neighboring house.
The plan was to take over for my father at the end of that summer, but something had changed in me in that moment. As I began to tuck in my stiffly-pressed shirt into my terribly uncomfortable jeans, I caught a glimpse of my swollen face in the mirror. It looked just as afraid as the one peeping from behind the current earlier that morning— I was scared for my life.
To the surprise of my family and friends, I swore off the industry all together and one month after the incident, was out of the country—determined to find what I had lost.