Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Plan B: Come as You Are

A new impaired driving logo and slogan warns of the consequences of impaired driving.

On a chilly fall evening, I sat behind the wheel of my car in the parking lot of the college hangout.

“Hey! There you are! Get out! Come in!” slurred my friend. “We found someone we want you to meet. We’ve told him all about you!”

“No, thanks,” I said. “Where’s your roommate? Get in the car.”

“But you have to come in! He’s soooooo cute!”


After an exchange reminiscent of a debate between three-year olds, I decided to pull my ace. Opening my jacket, I gave my friend a quick glimpse of my warm pajamas.

“Get. In. The. Car.” I demanded, as I saw the roommate approach.

The two poured themselves in the backseat in a fit of giggles.

“I can’t believe you came to pick us up in your jammies!” one declared. “What if you got pulled over?”

“I’d explain that I was on my way to pick up two friends who were too drunk to drive … but who are smart enough to call for a ride,” I said.

“We love you!” they sang.

“You should.”

It wasn’t the first time I was a “Plan B” driver and it certainly wasn’t the last. I’ve been the passenger, too.

It’s part of a long-standing pact with friends and family – if you don’t have a completely sober driver or if the cold medicine you took at work makes you woozy, start dialing. We’ve all promised to come right away, whenever called. A safe way home is that important.

If more people did that, some of the 217 people who died in Missouri last year because an impaired person decided to drive would still be here. None of us want anyone to go through the legal horror of a driving under the influence conviction. None of us want to be the cause of another family’s grief.

This holiday season, law enforcement will be out in full force Dec. 5-12, cracking down on drivers who are impaired. For your celebrations, make a plan of your own that includes a designated driver, alternate transportation or a safe place to stay.

I still get an earful about the pajamas all these years later. That kind of grief my friends are happy to inflict.