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"Bringing much-needed lubricant to this meeting"
October 1, 2009 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Ever wonder how the people on Mad Men make it through the work day while drinking so much? The women of Slate spin-off The XX Factor gave it a go, and documented the results. You can listen to their Political Gabfest podcast with a "pie-eyed" Emily Bazelon here. This topic was discussed recently in AskMe.
posted by mkultra (98 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, two points:

1) While it seems like they drink a lot on Mad Men, there is, (or would be) a selection bias in terms of what's shown, the times they drink are more likely to be pivotal moments in the plot. If Mad Men were a documentary, or a reality show, the times they drink would be more likely to be included in the final cut.

2) If people drink a lot, their tolerance goes up. I would imagine most of those characters are pretty hard partiers.

That said, drinking at the office sounds fun. One problem these days is liability and how people are going to get home. Of course if you're in NYC people can take the subway, but that's not going to work in sprawlsville U.S.A.
posted by delmoi at 10:30 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed that, having wondered "what if" myself.
posted by everichon at 10:31 AM on October 1, 2009


I have to concur with delmoi about his second point. Drinking 5 drinks a day when you're used to it is not the same as drinking 5 drinks in a day when you normally don't. Imagine going from drinking no coffee at all during a workday to drinking 6-8 cups of coffee all of a sudden. The ability of the human body to adjust to differing levels of intake of substances is remarkable.
posted by hippybear at 10:33 AM on October 1, 2009


Huh. I thought they drank so much because they were actors acting like people with a real work day. I never suspected it was an actual ad agency.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:33 AM on October 1, 2009


The Mad Men crew is male. Women do not deal as well with alcohol, and they generally weigh less.

You can totally tell whether your job is important or just a way of employing people in our very comfortable society by whether you could pull this experiment. Marketing? Sure. Web Development? Sure. Surgeon? Engineer? Pilot? Hell no.
posted by phrontist at 10:34 AM on October 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


But how else would the mad men characters work up the courage to sexually harass their secretaries?

Addendum 1: the show's amazing.
2: they could probably do that without the booze
3: it's was the early 60s. Drinking just didn't have the same stigma.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 10:38 AM on October 1, 2009


Didn't like Slate before. Like it even less now.
posted by ZaneJ. at 10:38 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with the above commenters, but there are some good (if not earth-shattering) observations, such as not caring if meetings go long or start late. We talk about stress being a killer in white-collar jobs. What if it were common to have a glass of wine or a belt of scotch at lunch?

Drunk driving and sexual harassment would likely go up. But most of us would likely live longer. And better. My French and Italian colleagues seem to get along just fine ...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2009


Yeah, you know TV often makes it look awesome to be coked up at work all day long too but being coked up all day usually winds you up with no job, bedsheets nailed up over the windows and peeking under your front door with a bowie knife in your mouth waiting for the fed you need to stab to death to come up the stairs.
posted by The Straightener at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


You can totally tell whether your job is important or just a way of employing people in our very comfortable society by whether you could pull this experiment. Marketing? Sure. Web Development? Sure. Surgeon? Engineer? Pilot? Hell no.

They wouldn't let truck drivers or forklift operators do it either. That doesn't mean their jobs are important, it just means those jobs require physical coordination. I mean calling jobs "important" because they require physical coordination, while calling jobs "unimportant" because they don't doesn't really make that much sense.
posted by delmoi at 10:41 AM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


> Women do not deal as well with alcohol...

You have not drunk with the women I have drunk with, sir. More's the pity, but professing beliefs like yours will make one any more welcome to future soirees which may disabuse you of your notions.
posted by ardgedee at 10:41 AM on October 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


It would take at least five drinks to get me to watch Mad Men.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:42 AM on October 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


delmoi: I'm saying that not showing up drunk is a necessary, but not sufficient, criteria for importance.
posted by phrontist at 10:43 AM on October 1, 2009


Something else to consider: Amphetamines were readily available and popping a few Bennies would certainly take the edge off of a few martinis and/or help snap a guy out of a nasty hangover the following morning.
posted by buggzzee23 at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I'll never understand is the people (and anecdotal "evidence" suggests they are legion) who go into work while stoned, or get stoned while on the job. Not only does time slow to a crawl (not a desirable state of being at work), but I'm lucky if I can pull off any task more complicated than putting a movie in the DVD player and making a peanut butter sandwich.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


They wouldn't let truck drivers or forklift operators do it either. That doesn't mean their jobs are important

Classist.
posted by hippybear at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'm periodically grateful that smoking was already prohibited when I got my first office job. What a hazy, stankiferous hellpit offices must have been before that.
posted by DU at 10:45 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


ardgedee: Women, in general, do not metabolize alcohol as quickly as men.
posted by phrontist at 10:46 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


People quit drinking at work because of all the prescription pills we now have available. Xanax anyone?
posted by dortmunder at 10:48 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a hazy, stankiferous hellpit
posted by jquinby at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Xanax anyone?

Yes, please.
posted by milarepa at 10:52 AM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


> Web Development? Sure.

Need a list of drunk designs, stat!
posted by tarheelcoxn at 10:52 AM on October 1, 2009


hippybear: "They wouldn't let truck drivers or forklift operators do it either. That doesn't mean their jobs are important

Classist.
"

I'm pretty sure it was a typo, and he meant "unimportant." At least that's how I read it. It makes more sense that way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 AM on October 1, 2009


> They wouldn't let truck drivers or forklift operators do it either.

When I was in high school I worked at a driving range on a golf course. One morning I came into work to find much of the course badly flooded. The guy whose job it had been to drive around at night and change the sprinklers (a job I took over a few years later; the course didn't install an automatic system until well after I left) had arrived for work quite drunk, driven the course's beaten-up pickup into the pump and knocked it partway into the pond it drew the water out of, panicked and left the scene. Unfortunately for him and the course, the pump was still working and the sprinkers he had running at the time kept going until the grounds crew arrived the next morning.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2009


Kadin2048: I don't think so - he was disagreeing with me.

For the record, if forced to choose I would want all the bloggers and artists to be struck by some debilitating illness for a few weeks than the forklift/truck drivers.
posted by phrontist at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2009


What I'll never understand is the people (and anecdotal "evidence" suggests they are legion) who go into work while stoned, or get stoned while on the job.

When I was working in jewelry production, and was setting diamond pavé of 1-2pt diamonds, 42 to a ring, as many rings as possible during a day, it was really only the marijuana and my (then cutting edge) Discman with headphones which allowed me to be as super awesome as I was at the job. I couldn't see doing that with anything which required a lot of real decision making or actual responsibility, but for repetitive tasks such as the one I was doing, it was the only way to succeed.

posted by hippybear at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Okay here's my best nomination so far for a web design clearly done by a drunk person.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


There were a few months at my old job where every Friday's lunch was a bit of a happy hour. I don't know that anybody really got drunk, but there was definitely the occasional three- or four-beer lunch. I sort of miss that.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2009


Is this something I'd have to put down the drink in my hand to understand?
posted by found missing at 10:59 AM on October 1, 2009


Okay here's my best nomination so far for a web design clearly done by a drunk person

Aaaa! My eyes! *takes up sungazing to help clear out the retina burn*
posted by hippybear at 11:00 AM on October 1, 2009


Wow, tarheelcoxn, you found a portal to 1998. Well done. What are you drinking, incidentally?
posted by Jilder at 11:07 AM on October 1, 2009


Web Development? Sure....
For the record, if forced to choose I would want all the bloggers and artists to be struck by some debilitating illness for a few weeks than the forklift/truck drivers.

Some web developers design websites for hospitals. Some bloggers keep the public informed about important political and news events.

Some forklift drivers move stuff around for Wal-Mart. Some truck drivers drive for [ insert evil company here ].

Perhaps, if you're looking to round up candidates for Golgafrincham Ark Fleet Ship B, phrontist, you should be a bit more selective. Why, you could put together your own little who's-in, who's-out list! It'd be great!
posted by gurple at 11:08 AM on October 1, 2009


At the startup I worked at in the late 90s, management kept the refrigerator stocked with beer. They also always had a bottle of scotch on hand for me, since I don't drink beer.


Also, I am old enough to remember smoking at my desk at my first few office jobs. Times have changed a lot!
posted by trip and a half at 11:10 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


gurple: It's obviously not so cut and dry, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. RIP DNA.
posted by phrontist at 11:12 AM on October 1, 2009


What are you drinking, incidentally?

The delicious tears of would-be Russian hackers. Muahahaha.

Actually just tap water. No alcohol sold at campus dining. :(
posted by tarheelcoxn at 11:15 AM on October 1, 2009


What's the least important job that you can't do while drunk?

Maybe street juggler?
posted by smackfu at 11:18 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, freelancers have it tough. Somehow rapidly downing beers while standing in front of the fridge in my empty apartment in my bathrobe and then sobbing uncontrollably for an hour doesn't have the same appeal.

for some reason taking a hit and then surfing the web all afternoon isn't as classy either. Maybe if I did it in a suit?
posted by The Whelk at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Well sure, but did they test Johnny Fever?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:20 AM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]



What's the least important job that you can't do while drunk?

Maybe street juggler?


Opinion Columnist?

Oh wait you said *can't* do.
posted by The Whelk at 11:21 AM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


They wouldn't let truck drivers or forklift operators do it either. That doesn't mean their jobs are important,

They're more important than advertising and marketing jobs, that's for goddam sure.
posted by dersins at 11:25 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


They're more important than advertising and marketing jobs, that's for goddam sure.

Okay, I'm gonna need a double scotch with a beer back if I'm gonna stay in this thread.
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 AM on October 1, 2009


You can totally tell whether your job is important or just a way of employing people in our very comfortable society by whether you could pull this experiment. Marketing? Sure. Web Development? Sure. Surgeon? Engineer? Pilot? Hell no.

I guess that means "Senator" isn't an important job.
posted by saladin at 11:33 AM on October 1, 2009


They're more important than advertising and marketing jobs, that's for goddam sure.

"Hey, Dave?
"Yeah, Bob?"
"I've been driving this here forklift around the warehouse for a month now."
"Uh huh. Doing a heck of a job, too."
"I've been wondering."
"Yeah?"
"Are we ever going to use the forklift to take stuff out of this warehouse?"
"I don't follow you."
"Well, production keeps sending us more stuff."
"Yep, that's what they do."
"But we just keep stacking it higher and higher."
"That's what a forklift operator does, Dave. He stacks stuff. Are you going somewhere with this? I'm kinda busy."
"I know, I know. I was just wondering if we were ever, you know ... if we were ever going to sell any of this stuff we make and stack on the pallets."
"Dude, you're losing me. Start again."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:33 AM on October 1, 2009 [7 favorites]



They wouldn't let truck drivers or forklift operators do it either. That doesn't mean their jobs are important,

They're more important than advertising and marketing jobs, that's for goddam sure.


guys, his point was that physical coordination does not necessarily denote an important job. Truck drivers and forklift operators are important jobs, but not because of their inability to be drunk on the job. It's their purpose that defines importance. But really that's the end of the derail.

This was kind of an awesome experiment, but I wonder if their sober counterparts in their meetings were a bit frustrated due to the time wastage.
posted by Think_Long at 11:33 AM on October 1, 2009


The women from the XX factor mixed up their beverages a lot - bloody mary, to martini, to whisk(e)y

I don't know if that would change the character of your drunkenness or not. (on Mad Men they seem to all have a perpetual glass of whisky)

Aside from drinking a lot regularly to build a tolerance - in order for this experiment to be accurate they would have to be drinking to cope with horrible secrets, personal pain, and conflicting desires - not drinking for a larf.
posted by device55 at 11:34 AM on October 1, 2009


They're more important than advertising and marketing jobs, that's for goddam sure

I think that every other job that has ever existed and even ones that haven't been invented yet fall into the category of "more important than advertising and marketing".
posted by octothorpe at 11:38 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just leave the bottle.
posted by The Whelk at 11:41 AM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Surgeon? Engineer? Pilot? Hell no.

Remind me to tell you about the 80s. I knew people in each of these professions that regularly snorted coke while on the job. The best one was the guy who snorted rails off the wing he was getting ready to attach to a 747.

Well, that's the best one you want to know about, at least.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:47 AM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Years ago where I worked, there used to be a weekly company-wide meeting that was followed by a beer party that could last till 7 or 8 at night and maybe beyond. I was mostly gone by 6 myself.

One day, one of the secretaries got a DUI on the way home and that was the end of that. I don't know what liability the company had (probably quite a bit had somebody gotten hurt) but I strongly suspect that the company paid most of not all of her DUI costs.

I myself used to go out and have a beer or two (or three) at lunch now and then. Not often. I don't think a couple of beers hurt my afternoon performance. Three maybe, but not two.

My dad worked in NYC in the '60's, as an engineer, and I don't think it was unusual at the time to wash down lunch with a schooner of beer or a martini. Drinking wasn't really looked down on, being drunk was. Culturally, I think there was a shift at some point that made it more difficult to just have that one drink and then go on with your day, instead of going forward and getting tipsy. After all, the effects from one beer or one cocktail are almost negligible basically gone in an hour, if you're used to it. He and most of his co-workers also used to smoke at their desks all day long too. Offices are very different places now than they were 40+ years ago.

What somebody above said about the show's editing being biased toward the times they were drinking is no doubt true, even though I haven't seen the show myself. After all, showing somebody hard at work at his desk isn't very entertaining.
posted by lordrunningclam at 11:47 AM on October 1, 2009


I've worked in a hard-drinking office, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. Male, though, so cursing instead of giggling.
posted by languagehat at 11:55 AM on October 1, 2009


I wonder if, as more and more people start working from home, if the three martini lunch will start to make a comeback. Sure, it'll be depressing sitting-in-your-house-alone drinking rather than the chummy have-a-seat-what-can-I-get-you drinking, but it's still technically drinking at work.

I'm going to stay out of the whole "important job" thing, since I'm not really even sure how you'd begin to define "important" in any sort of objective way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:00 PM on October 1, 2009


I've been blessed with a career that has traditionally tolerated drinking (within bounds) eg, newsrooms and ad agencies. Ironically, the only job I've had that forbid imbibing on the clock was bartending.
posted by memewit at 12:03 PM on October 1, 2009


I couldn't see doing that with anything which required a lot of real decision making or actual responsibility, but for repetitive tasks such as the one I was doing, it was the only way to succeed.

One of my roommate's summer jobs in college was some sort of mail sorting gig (not sure if it was the post office or somebody like UPS) where he had to visually scan addresses all day to check for errors. The guy who they had train him for the job told him straight up that being high on speed was both the only way to be any good at the job, and the only way to be able to stand doing it all day. My roommate lasted about 3 days on that job.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:04 PM on October 1, 2009


My parents used to have 3 or 4 drinks every night of their lives without being at all visibly drunk, and neither were exceptionally heavy drinkers among their social set. I think that "Mad Men" is depicting folks in the same milieu and age cohort (my parents were East-Coast US middle-class ofays born in the late 1920s) and that it's perfectly reasonable to show those characters doing what seems to us today to be heavy drinking as a matter of course.

The phrase "three-martini lunch" didn't come out of nowhere. I am a giant Amazon who is no stranger to the bottle, but three martinis for me are always followed by a long nap. O tempora, o mores!
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:13 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


My first job (as a high school co-op) was in the advertising department of a Fortune 500 automotive supplier. It was 1976. There were two conference rooms in the main building. Both had complete bars. Aside from the Men (as 100% of the executives, purchasing agents, engineers and sales persons were male at the time) indulging at lunch, they regularly nipped into the conference rooms during the rest of the day to mix themselves a drink, which they openly sipped in meetings or even while chatting in the corridor (usually both men had a cigarette in hand as well). Even though I was only 16 when I first started, my boss ordered cocktails for me whenever he took me out to lunch (drinking age was 18 at the time, but no one asked for ID because I was in this fancy restaurant with a businessman in a suit and tie). It wasn't necessarily encouraged, but there was no rule against the women (almost universally secretaries or clerical workers in this case) grabbing an airline-sized bottle of gin during the day to pour into their glass of Squirt. No one raised an eyebrow when folks reeked of alcohol during the work day. And yet somehow the work got done. Maybe most of the players were so used to the alcohol in their systems that they could still read a blueprint properly while soused. Or maybe that's why the U.S. auto industry crashed and burned in the early 1980s and then suddenly the "three martini lunch" was taboo.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:15 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Take away Metafilter and give me a beer and I would get more work done.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:18 PM on October 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


Ironically, the only job I've had that forbid imbibing on the clock was bartending.

That must have sucked. I drank like a fish in my bartending days. So many vodka shots...... The managers were generally fine with it because my cash was always on to the nickel (even if I didn't remember cashing out the next day), and all those extra vodka shots (which my customers bought me) really upped overall sales. My liver is pretty glad I retired. I often wish I could drink in my current job as a high school teacher. Those teenagers would be a hell of a lot easier to take. Course, I'd probably be fired within the first day once I'd drunk enough to be honest with my students.
posted by Go Banana at 12:25 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


. Sure, it'll be depressing sitting-in-your-house-alone drinking rather than the chummy have-a-seat-what-can-I-get-you drinking, but it's still technically drinking at work.

Man, why do I think about scripts when I'm working on ads and ads when I'm working on scripts?

Pitch: Long formish commercial, shown before movies and before Hulu shows and the like.

4 young(ish) people in their respective houses/apartments. Each person is staring at their respective laptops/computers/blank canvas whatever. All of them are frustrated, annoyed, pacing, suffer from spreadsheet block or whatever. One of them gets a txt message and we see them all reacting to it in a 4-split screen.

BAM! Keeping the 4-split screen they all grab their phones/notepads/laptops/ and head out the door. The music kicks in, something with a good base line and steady rhythm that kinda sorta sounds like The Ramones or something. We see them all arrive at a well-lit, comfortable bar. The split screen melts as they all meet each other. Cut to all 4 of them talking, drinking, laptops open, notes being taken, things being sketched out. Cut to black

"O'Flanaggin's. Freelancer Friendly."

I'd like to mention to anyone hiring out there that I came up with that in ten minutes and I can hold my liquor.
posted by The Whelk at 12:26 PM on October 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Imagine going from drinking no coffee at all during a workday to drinking 6-8 cups of coffee all of a sudden. The ability of the human body to adjust to differing levels of intake of substances is remarkable.

40 years from now I'll have to explain to my grandchildren "Yes, people really did drink that much coffee during the 00s. No seriously, they had this cup called a "venti" which was over half a litre in size, and that was just to get through the morning. Seems a little crazy in retrospect."
posted by bobo123 at 12:28 PM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


That must have sucked. I drank like a fish in my bartending days. So many vodka shots...... The managers were generally fine with it because my cash was always on to the nickel (even if I didn't remember cashing out the next day), and all those extra vodka shots (which my customers bought me) really upped overall sales.

I was so paranoid during my brief tenure as a fill-in bartender that I didn't touch a drop. Granted I had the boring afternoon weekday shift and it was only for a week.

And I was 17. That only seems weird in retrospect.

40 years from now I'll have to explain to my grandchildren "Yes, people really did drink that much coffee during the 00s. No seriously, they had this cup called a "venti" which was over half a litre in size, and that was just to get through the morning. Seems a little crazy in retrospect."


"Whatever Grandpa, everyone knows that like coffee is like basically poison." (quickly downs 7 horse-sized neutropic pills) "Altering your body is for losers, that's what the Church Computer always says. "
posted by The Whelk at 12:32 PM on October 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


I have two bottles of rum on my desk, the next guy had birch vodka. From here I can see 4 bottles of scotch, the IT department people get fancy whiskeys in the $80 to $200 delivered to the office. Our teams mini fridge is stuffed with beer, including a couple bottles of Consecration. The main fridge is full of beer and the freezer is full of vodka. We often have lunch at a brewery. It is OK to drink in the office, it is not OK to be drunk.

Drunk code is easy to detect, whoever commits drunk code gets the object of infinite shame placed on their desk.

So to answer the question: If everyone does it and it is allowed, you can slowly develop a tolerance. Most people here can work perfectly fine after 2 beers at lunch and another 2 or 3 drink distributed throughout the day. It took me a month to get used, now I don't do it because I get headaches at 8 or 9 p.m. if I don't continue drinking.

Importantly, most people here commute by public transportation or bicycle, and the company lets you expense taxis whenever you need them. It is a 150+ people software company.
posted by dirty lies at 12:36 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


dirty lies: Ballmer peak.
posted by The Whelk at 12:41 PM on October 1, 2009


And yet somehow the work got done.

Maybe part of it is that workers today are expected to be much more productive compared to workers in the 1960's. I remember an old time BIGLAW partner who talked about how in the 1970's, his firm's billable hours requirement was 1300 hours a year, as opposed to the well over 2000 billable hours his firm requires today.
posted by gyc at 12:41 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whether a truck driver or forklift operator job is important really depends on what their trucking and/or fork lifting. For example, hauling McDonalds supplies across the country or operating a forklift at a Rupert Murdoch owned printing press are probably things we can do without. On the other hand working at the CDC to inform people about pandemic flu (marketing). As for web development, you could probably look at any particular website and say it's not necessary, but but as a whole the web is pretty important and has improved people's lives immensely.
posted by delmoi at 12:41 PM on October 1, 2009


I'm periodically grateful that smoking was already prohibited when I got my first office job. What a offices must have been before that.

I used to proofread municipal codes in a large room where about twenty people proofread municipal codes by one reading a code aloud to a listener who was reading the same text silently, following along with a ruler for underlines. (We phoneticized punctuations --as in 'high' for hypens, for example, but too much information already..) And quite a few of smoked and, by current standards, chain smoked. And I was one of those smokers.

I cringe every time now when I think of it. As when I think of we, the cool smokers, derided the one woman who actively campaigned for a non-smoking office. It wasn't as awful as the smoking lounge they once had in the commuter's cafe in Hub at the University of Washington, though. That place was like a volunteer gas chamber. That place could give you cancer from just looking it from the hallway.

No, the proofreading room wasn't the hazy, stankiferous hellpit that place was--but close enough. Oh, how guilty I feel now for what torment I helped inflict on the nonsmokers there then.

Of course, I feel almost as bad about playing my stereo loud in apartments in which I once lived, for similar reasons, but that, too, is another story. And loud music is not carcinogenic.

*Well, most of the time that is a true statement.

As to the main topic--I have always wondered about the drinking in 30's comedies, later film noir movies and early tv cop and detective series, the The Thin Man, say, in both contexts. They smoke like chimney and drink like fish yet they never get sleepy, doze off, let alone pass out and they never slur or stumble. Everyone keeps a bottle in the desk and whenever anyone wants to demonstrate their earnestness and serious intent, they belt it straight from the bottle. Everyone smokes but no one ever has to flick an ash or leave a butt, so who needs or uses ashtrays ? And no one ever gets stupid or socially inept. People drink but never show the symptoms except for comic effect. How like real life. Yet that is the convention.

*Well, smoking is like that in real life--at least for smoking outside. The smoker just throws the butt on the ground, steps on it and forgets it as if it never happened. Judging from the evidence, that is.
posted by y2karl at 12:45 PM on October 1, 2009


Wasn;t there some quip that went "During the Regency, a gentleman was judged by how much he could drink and still appear sober?"
posted by The Whelk at 12:48 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speaking of smoking bans, they recently passed one here. I remember going to a bar/club with a friend and I didn't even notice, at first that there wasn't any smoking. I had been there a couple months prior and after I got home I had to put my clothes on the balcony to de-stink and take a shower to clean out my hair so it wouldn't smell. I can't imagine going to work every day and dealing with that, although I suppose people just got used to it.
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on October 1, 2009


I always thought the three martini lunch went away after tax code changes in the 1980s meant that alcohol was no longer deductible as a business expense. Doesn't explain why people stopped drinking IN the office, though.
posted by yarrow at 1:11 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


> My parents used to have 3 or 4 drinks every night of their lives without being at all visibly drunk, and neither were exceptionally heavy drinkers among their social set.

Hmm. Studies seem to indicate that today's children will not live as long as their parents. I'm no scientician, but the obvious answer seems to be that people should eat less and drink more.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:29 PM on October 1, 2009


See the trick is to already be drunk when you learn how to do your job...

Same logic all my stoner friends used to use when studying before taking a test, right?
posted by JaredSeth at 1:34 PM on October 1, 2009


As to the main topic--I have always wondered about the drinking in 30's comedies, later film noir movies and early tv cop and detective series, the The Thin Man, say, in both contexts. They smoke like chimney and drink like fish yet they never get sleepy, doze off, let alone pass out and they never slur or stumble. Everyone keeps a bottle in the desk and whenever anyone wants to demonstrate their earnestness and serious intent, they belt it straight from the bottle. Everyone smokes but no one ever has to flick an ash or leave a butt, so who needs or uses ashtrays ? And no one ever gets stupid or socially inept. People drink but never show the symptoms except for comic effect.

posted by y2karl at 12:45 PM on October 1 [+] [!]


MAD MEN SPOILERS

Funny, Mad Men actually plays with these expectations. In one episode, three members of the company are speaking with one of the copywriters shortly before an important meeting. Mid-conversation the copywriter starts babbling incoherently, urinates in his pants, and passes out on his desk. The three are extremely squicked out and have no idea what to do, in a later episode we see various executives mocking the guy's alcoholism after he's been dismissed.

There's also a really sad portrayal of what it's like to be a recovering alcoholic in this environment: a different character who is on the wagon has to struggle constantly to come up with excuses not to drink in social settings without appearing rude and/or less masculine.
posted by Ndwright at 1:38 PM on October 1, 2009


The same way any of us does.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:45 PM on October 1, 2009


All that absinthe & hashish worked out ok for van Gogh.
posted by Forrest Greene at 1:48 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, imagine if you could run over your asshole boss with a John Deere *in the office,* sever his foot in a great bloody spatter, then suffer absolutely no consequences, or even a lawsuit?

Ah, those were the days.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:53 PM on October 1, 2009


Hey, I'm a freelance writer! WHERE IS MY TEXT MESSAGE I'M WAITING.
posted by ErikaB at 2:10 PM on October 1, 2009


All that absinthe & hashish worked out ok for van Gogh.

For remarkably idiosyncratic values of "ok", sure. I personally prefer to avoid hallucinating, self-mutilating, and never selling any of my work, but I know that makes me one of the sheeple.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:15 PM on October 1, 2009


and documented the results.

Good god, they're drinking bloodies, not scotch! This invalidates the whole research project.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:30 PM on October 1, 2009


Hey, ya can't make a omelette without ya break some eggs, y'know?

At least that's what ya tell the eggs.
posted by Forrest Greene at 2:44 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, drinking and operating a forklift can get you into real trouble (the video starts slow, but it's worth watching to the end).
posted by exogenous at 2:45 PM on October 1, 2009


"Dude, you're losing me. Start again."

Oh, yeah, I get it. Hah, hah. Nothing sells without marketing or advertising.

A little anecdata. I worked for a medical device company once. Marketing department got all the attention and spent like a drunken sailor schmoozing docs, placing slick, glossy advertisements with sincere ladies and gentleman declaiming how their lives were changed with our product, and supporting sales with brochures, doodads, and trinkets. We were making and selling implantable defibrillators. When I started there, current revenue from that section of the business was $250M/year give or take. The marketing department was always scheming to take 1-2% from the competition, as we all made essentially indistinguishable devices.

Then the engineers came up with a defibrillator that required only a single lead and used the can as the other electrode. In a randomized trial, thresholds went down, battery life went up, time to implant plummeted. Pretty great product. Within a month, sales rocketed and market share doubled to $500M for the next year.

The marketing? A paper in the premier cardiology journal, written by the investigators of the study demonstrating its superiority. Advertising? Papers presented at ACC and AHA meetings. Plus the sales reps, of course. They had to take the orders. God, were the marketing folks happy someone did some marketing and advertising. It just wasn't them.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:46 PM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wonder if there is any way to prove an inverse relationship between Work Drinking and Team Building Exercises?

Which would you rather spend a few hours doing at work?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:50 PM on October 1, 2009


Hey, I'm a freelance writer! WHERE IS MY TEXT MESSAGE I'M WAITING.


The Freelancer's Union would totally see it's membership swell if it hosted work-days in bars. Call it the Scotch And Pixel club.

Actually I know a nice bar that has Secret WiFi, but it doesn't open til 4. I know an *excellent* bar that opens at 11, but I don't wanna share it. It is Mine.
posted by The Whelk at 4:01 PM on October 1, 2009


Drunk code is easy to detect, whoever commits drunk code gets the object of infinite shame placed on their desk.

You can't tell that story without telling us what the object of infinite shame is.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:04 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since we own our own business it's no big deal. It's only a big deal when somebody here brings cheap liquor.

I'm always shocked to find out that most people don't drink at work. Clients show up and don't want to play quarters or leg wrestle. Like, who elected them President Snooty-pants.

And I was shocked to find out some people wear pants all day long.
posted by tkchrist at 5:49 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


MAD MEN SPOILERS

MAD MEN SPOLIER (for last Sunday's episode)
posted by delmoi at 6:02 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pants are totally overrated.
posted by Go Banana at 7:39 PM on October 1, 2009


Pants are totally overrated.
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 PM on October 1, 2009


I tried to watch this but gave up after falling out of my chair laughing at the fact that SlateV is running Amway commercials.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 PM on October 1, 2009


In related news: Sesame Street debuts Mad Men parody
posted by Rhaomi at 9:54 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


The object of infinite shame is elongated, made of latex, yellow with a red tip and completely flaccid.
posted by dirty lies at 10:34 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Surgeon? Engineer? Pilot? Hell no.

You need to read Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff.
posted by rokusan at 5:50 AM on October 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


rokusan: Again, experimental military test pilots are not a high priority in my ideal society.

Also, the engineers in The Right Stuff were not drunk, afaik.
posted by phrontist at 12:42 PM on October 2, 2009


Muppet Don Draper should totally hook up with Muppet Liz Lemon.
posted by The Whelk at 12:45 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't see how a rubber chicken could be that shameful.
posted by mendel at 5:14 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some web developers design websites for hospitals.
Yeah, patient care would come to a screeching halt without the inane press releases, WebMD rehashed medical advice, and outdated campus maps on most hospital websites.
posted by jeoc at 7:01 PM on October 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


"and documented the results."

Good god, they're drinking bloodies, not scotch! This invalidates the whole research project.

posted by Mental Wimp at 5:30 PM on October 1

I'm with you, Mental Wimp. People who drink Bloody Mary's and munch the celery swizzle sticks while doing it, so don't understand the concept of Business Drinking. It's two fingers of whiskey in morning shots, and three fingers in afternoon shots. Save the ice for cooling evening cocktails.

And nobody who is serious stocks salad ingredients or condiments in a real office bar anyway. Sheesh.

Amateurs.
posted by paulsc at 9:21 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, the engineers in The Right Stuff were not drunk, afaik.

You're totally right. None of the engineers I know drink at all.

No, wait. Not that. The opposite of that.
posted by rokusan at 12:47 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can totally tell whether your job is important or just a way of employing people in our very comfortable society by whether you could pull this experiment. Marketing? Sure. Web Development? Sure. Surgeon? Engineer? Pilot? Hell no.

President of Russia?
posted by milarepa at 8:06 AM on October 4, 2009


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