Drunk, With More Alcohol, Driving Away...

On Memorial Day evening, my daughters and I stopped at the grocery store.  In the checkout line, the man ahead of us was purchasing a 12-16 large cans of alcohol and doggy treats, joking with the cashier and bagger, and floundered in his wallet for the right amount of cash.  Oh my goodness, that man is so drunk!

His eyes were red and rolling around in his head.  His speech was slurred and posture was staggering.  The cashier repeated in both English and Spanish for the $13.06 he was owed for items.  The drunk man handed him $5 and complained in broken Spanish.  The cashier persisted, ""13.06".  The man took out another $5 and complained further.  I leaned down to my daughter and whispered "There is a security guard at the door, please go get him!"  She ran to the entrance.

The cashier persisted, "$3 more" and then began playing with a fidget spinner as he waited.  The drunk man slowly withdrew three folded $1 bills one at a time from his wallet, and finally at $13 the cashier grabbed and gave him his receipt.  The drunk man cheered, joyfully patted the bagger on the shoulder, and rapidly headed for the door.  The cashier started ringing my groceries as my daughter and security guard caught the man halfway to the entrance.

Later my daughter said she told the guard "There is a drunk man in our check out line."  The guard quickly came over and said "Hey man, I told you to get out of here!" and grabbed his purchased bag.  The drunk man was friendly but said "Hey!" in reply.

Watching from behind my cart, I left the checkout line and rushed over and whispered to the guard, "Sir, I'm concerned he's going to drive somewhere", then I took my daughter's hand and went back to complete our check out.  The guard asked the drunk man to step back and stay, and they continued talking.  The bagger asked me what was wrong so I said, "That man was drunk and you all just sold him alcohol; he shouldn't leave."  I couldn't make eye contact with the cashier.  I took our receipt from the cashier and my daughters and I headed for the door, noticing the security guard and drunk man still talking, the bag of cans in the guard's hand.

We walked to our car and loaded our trunk.  But as I pulled my car out, I saw the drunk man WITH his alcohol bag in hand, leaving the store and headed for his car.  I cried out to my kids, "WHAT?!  Why is he leaving?!"  I discretely circled around, took note of his license plate, and called 911 from one row over.  We tried to give as much information as possible as the man left the lot and turned into a nearby neighborhood, which was as far as we could see from the grocery parking lot.

911 took my name and phone number, then I parked, went back in to the store, and politely asked for a manager.  When she arrived, I asked if we could speak quietly somewhere and she led me to a quiet check out aisle.  I repeated what happened above but also noting that both the grocer and the security seemed to KNOW this drunk man and they appeared to do what they both felt was right.

I did not agree that he bought alcohol or that he was allowed leave, get in his car, and drive himself from the store.  Then I asked:

What could we all have done better?  We felt shaken as my daughters and I finally headed home.  A drunk man BOUGHT alcohol, LEFT the store, and GOT BEHIND THE WHEEL.  The scene kept repeating and replaying in my head...

This never should have happened, but it did.

When I got home, I told my husband I have never felt so helpless as a women bystander with two daughters: I tried to stay invisible to the drunk man to protect myself and daughters, yet asked for help from the people that could take action.

Individually, perhaps the cashier, guard, and manager did what they felt best.  But perhaps if the manager, the guard, the cashier, and even the bagger rallied together at the checkout, they could have made a difference.  I hope 911 was able to find the man and intervene, not by arresting him, but to provide aid.

In America, we are so FORTUNATE we have a HUGE amount of resources to help us through any situation.  We truly do.  We are imperfectly human, and our best can become better when we reflect and practice for the next time.  Progress...

I am so glad we said something.  

We remained polite to all those that offered help.

And from the perspective of the drunk man,
I didn't want him out of the store.

I DO wish he was provided with help.  

A kind ear.
A moment to rest.
A glass of water.
A call to a safe ride home.

What would you have done?

Public Health Resources
24-Hour Hotline, Mothers Against Drunk Driving: 1-877-MADD-HELP

In honor of citizens and professionals that balance community safety with freedoom of choice every day.
#MemorialDay #HoustonRelief #PublicHealthProgress