If Only I Hadn't Had That Last Shot of Tequila

Okay, so now some of you may be wondering how drinking tequila shots has anything to do with MATRIX or with Human Resources. Well, there is a story here, and maybe even a few words of wisdom, so read on.

In my early years at MATRIX, I, along with a group of my peer managers occasionally went out for a "Team Building Happy Hour" (or "TBHH" for short) with our leader. Note that this was at his invitation and suggestion -- never ours! Somehow, we found many occasions to "build the team", to celebrate personal and company milestones. And we always went to the same upscale Mexican restaurant for these cerebral sessions. Okay, so when you go Mexican, you have to have chips and salsa, maybe some real food too, but most definitely some drinks. For most people, that means beer and margaritas. I am not a beer drinker, but I find that margaritas go great with Mexican food; actually they go great with practically ALL food! On one particular late afternoon TBHH, I somehow put my foot (instead of my food) in my mouth, bragging about my younger days when I could drink tequila straight from the bottle. No sooner had I said that than a shot of tequila, a wedge of lime and some salt mysteriously appeared in front of me. So here I am with about six of my co-workers AND my boss, feeling somewhat pressured to drink that shot of tequila. Oh, did I mention I had already savored at least one margarita at this point? Do I drink this or don't I? -- as they continued to egg me on. Naturally, I want to prove I can do it, I don't want to be a wimp and want to be one of the gang. Besides, we were having so much fun and none of us were going back to work. See how easy it was to justify that having that shot was the RIGHT thing to do????

And yes, I succumbed to the pressure and downed that shot of tequila. It was harmless enough as we continued to laugh and "team build", and of course eat and drink. Then, just like before, another shot of tequila again appeared in front of me. I clearly was a target, but it didn't matter at this point. A margarita, a shot of tequila, what's another one among friends and co-workers, right? It took no coaxing at all to get me to drink that second one.

In the end, I don't believe I said anything terribly embarrassing or inappropriate (from what I could remember), nor did I have an accident driving home. But, and this is the big BUT -- I clearly had no business being behind the wheel, even if I drove ever so slowly on my 4-mile route home. And, because this TBHH was considered a company function, both because it was held partially on company time and because it was paid for by the company, I could have also said or done something that I might have regretted later.

As I look back at that time and realize we all had fun and had no regrets, I can still share these thoughts:

  • People don't forget. My co-workers continued to remind me, not to mention tell others, of those tequila shots. In fact, because that little story was passed along through the years, at my 10-year anniversary I was presented with my very own bottle of tequila. I was actually surprised and a bit embarrassed -- what did our newer employees think? Why would I be given a bottle of tequila? Was I setting a bad example?
  • People have a tendency to behave differently with their guard down and inhibitions gone, when they've been drinking. After all, these people / my co-workers, bought me the two shots of tequila AND I was willing to drink them. Did I say or do anything I would regret when I returned to work?
  • When you are at your own TBHH with co-workers, don't forget that what you say and do is a reflection not just on you but also on your company. Don't do or say anything that would cause embarrassment, or, worse yet, cause you to lose your job.
  • Be grateful for the time spent at these TBHH events, enjoy them and behave wisely. And, by all means, ask for a ride home or take a taxi.
About the Author: 

Sandy Jess is the Director of Human Resources at MATRIX Resources. Her 20+ years of Human Resources experience in the staffing, software, insurance and retail industries has enriched her understanding of human nature — from the candidate, the employee and even the employer perspectives.

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