May 11, 2012

I chose AADD

by SSgt. Erica Picariello
Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.

It seems like we all know of someone who has gotten a DUI, but I’ve never heard of anyone end a drinking story with, “and then we took Airman Against Drunk Driving home.”

Is it because we’re afraid that the word will get back to leadership and we’ll get a disapproving lecture followed with paperwork Monday morning? Or that it’s really “big brother’s” trap to get your to admit you’re drunk and the AADD driver has really been instructed to drop you off at us commander’s doorstep? Or maybe we think that people will see us getting picked up by one of those less than conspicuous white government conversion vans and make fun of us for calling for a sober ride?

Whatever the reason, I was on a mission to get to the bottom of it April 21.

My husband and I haven’t really gone out for any social time since last May, when we got the news that I was pregnant with twins. Fast forward a few months and here I am, the mother of twin boys in desperate need of a break and, frankly, a cocktail.

Three cocktails later and I’m legally impaired. A while later a tiny glass filled with murky liquid and topped with whipped cream appears in front of me, as if by magic. Down it went.

I was drunk!

These drinks were all spaced out appropriately over several hours, but even so, I hadn’t had more than a drop of alcohol in about a year. I started to feel the uncontrollable urge to dance and sing the night away and was smiling so hard my face hurt.

My husband was equally drunk and my sober friends had all left, fading with the sun.

The reality of screaming babies sets in and I start to panic. I need to go home now. Do I choose the option that I have experience with? I’ve been driving for more than a decade and I’m pretty sure I could navigate myself home with my eyes closed. Driving does seem to complicate things less. I don’t have to wait for a taxi, call someone I don’t know to pick me up … deal with their judgey-ness … or wonder about leaving my car at rowdy bar. Or do I suck it up, pick up my phone and dive into the unknown: Call AADD and let some Judgey McJudgey faced airman pick me up. Will they be in uniform? How long until my boss knows?

Now it’s time for me to come clean. For the purpose of this commentary, I had planned on calling AADD the entire time. I knew AADD has been the road less traveled and I wanted to find out why.

Here’s how it played out: I called AADD and a cheery volunteer asked where I was, how many people were in my party, where I needed to go and my phone number. Two minutes later I received a text from an unrecognized phone number saying they’d be to my location in 20 minutes.

A little over 20 minutes later a very nice airman volunteer appeared in civilian clothes with a clean personal vehicle to take me home. He asked my name, took us home and even thanked us for using the service.

My commander didn’t call me into his office for an alcohol abuse lecture the following duty day, no rumors floated around the office about my irresponsibility, nobody demanded I hand over my stripes and I wasn’t struck by lightning … in fact, everyone said they had a good time and asked when we could all do it again.

Do you think my day would have played out in the same way if I hadn’t chosen the road less traveled and delved into the unknown? The cost of drinking and driving are steep and when my plan failed it was so simple and painless to call AADD.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Call AADD – it will make all the difference for you too.

Editor’s note: The Los Angeles Air Force Base Airman Against Drunk Driving phone number is (310) 653-3070.

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