I don’t consume alcoholic drinks; does that make me weird?
I have the pleasure of belonging to Rotary Club of Greenfield. We just held an event in which we collected more than $50,000, which will be donated to various Hancock County charitable organizations. Rotary is an amazing group.
For my entire life, some people have thought of me as weird. I know I love to tease, tell jokes, and try to help people have fun. I think that’s part of the job of a good benefit auctioneer. But what I’m talking about as weird is, for my entire life, I have made my own personal decision not to consume alcoholic beverages.
This decision came actually when I was a kid. In my mind, I was fortunate enough to personally know two sheriffs who were serving when I was 7 to 22. When I was 21, I was hired as a reserve deputy sheriff myself, but by that time, my own opinion and decision was already made and rock-solid.
Yes, I’ve never taken a drink of an alcoholic beverage. So how do I know I don’t like the taste? I don’t, but that has nothing to do with my decision.
You see, when I was a young kid, Bob Sebastian was the sheriff. I loved to go with him on any call he would take me on. He also lived in the jail and would let me hang around and see everything. Just like Opie Taylor talked about seeing Otis with a snootful, as a kid I saw my share of drunks. Some were happy-go-lucky, some were crying, and some were downright mean.
As a kid, I decided I would never let anything interfere with me making what I feel are right decisions. From when I was a kid, I know I’ve always been looked on as weird. Even in high school, I got to figuring out what was going to happen when a few friends would ask if I wanted to do the driving when we cruised from Burger Chef to McDonald’s. It was a dead giveaway when they invited me to bring my Statler Brothers eight-track tape.
I didn’t agree with their decisions to drink; however I held true to myself, and I know I gained much respect from them all. It may have taken a little bit of time, but I’m sure my high school classmates will echo that thought even today.
We were and always will be friends, but I was just a little weird. Actually, the parties that went on at Ball State were the best thing to happen to me. It was at that time I started a tradition that is still going on today. I would take my own half-gallon of milk to a college party. Oh, the jokes that were told about me were funny, funny, funny. But, when I was done with my milk, I slipped out and went to the library.
No doubt that is why I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and corrections. When I started working in probation 34 years ago, I knew my decision to not drink put me right where I needed to be. It has been amazing to see the faces of people, even kids, when I tell them they can’t drink. I can look them right in the eye and assure them it can be done.
What I love even better is when they come to me years later and thank me for that example. I don’t think of myself as better than anyone else, but I do feel people working with the public should hold themselves to a higher standard. I have chosen to make sure they know, yes, you can succeed, and you will never see me sway from that decision.
Now to explain the Rotary event I started with. My Rotarian friends know I’m weird, but I don’t even have to bring my own milk anymore as some of my friends always have it for me when I’m at a Rotary event.
Again, I was asked in amazement, “Are you serious that milk is all you drink?”
My answer: “Absolutely not, I love iced tea. too.”
Wayne Addison is chief probation officer for the Hancock County Probation Department. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.