By Alan Neff
The middle of the annual football schedule is upon us. And I mean U.S. football, the kind where players may legally employ all of their limbs on the field of play.
It’s the time of the year when, more often than not, fans’ expectations for their teams fall with the temperatures.
By now, most of the college teams have been sorted into a smallish cohort of “bowl-eligible” or “other/firing their coaches”. The NFL food chain – thanks to parity and injuries – remains more unsettled, with certain ugly exceptions I will not name, although they are led – but not in a good way – by a team of “young equines” in a land-locked metropolis in central Indiana.
As most teams are less attractive business-entertainment opportunities than might have been the case earlier in their seasons, more tickets become available at face-value prices or below. Thanks to the Iron Law of Supply and Demand, it’s a time when junior office-workers might be handed tickets destined formerly for valued clients or customers.
Make no mistake – this is a dangerous moment. If you spent/misspent your college years drinking yourself stupid at your alma mater (or, for that matter, anybody’s alma mater), you ought to understand the social rules have changed for you, especially if you’re invited to attend with bosses, colleagues, or others who might affect your career.
Sure, on Game Day, you can still dress or paint yourself in team colors, don a cartoon-costume of your team mascot, and achieve a blood-alcohol content higher than .08 (the legal limit for driving in most jurisdictions). It’s best to do that at home, though, with your peers who are not co-workers, and where the car keys are hidden from you by someone who knows you too well, and cares too much, to cave in to your need for speed.
If you go out in public with bosses and your firm’s Significant Others (and/or your bosses’ significant others), confine your team spirit to more modest expressions. Wear a team jersey and/or cap. Over the course of the game, nurse one beer, or, at most, two. If you keep getting handed beers, find a way to sneak out and covertly discard them. Do not take off any clothes during the game that expose your upper torso to the elements, no matter how ripped you are or think you are. (“Ripped” is ambiguous in that last sentence, and we’ll leave it that way.)
And what do you do if your boss – or a lesser manager – asks you to serve as designated driver? You probably don’t want to say no, but you don’t want to say yes, either.
I suppose there could be business advantage in serving as the DD, especially if you’re Machiavellian enough to leverage your boss’s indiscretions. But, do you really want to expose your car to the risks of – there’s no oblique way to say this – car-sick drunks?
You could tell a white lie: “Uh, my car’s in the shop,” or “Oh, gee, I loaned it to a friend for the weekend,” might work. Then you have to deal with your conscience.
In these circumstances, it’s best to own a sub-compact or no car at all, or to have your significant other need the car for an important, conflicting occasion.