Business And Pleasure/Drinking On The Job
January 11, 2004 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Could This Be The Renaissance Of The Three-Martini Lunch? Do business and alcohol mix? Do business and pleasure? Must we be all be utterly sober when we do deals? Or work? Is a little lubrication slowly replacing mineral water and political correctness? Surely it's not only writers who gain from the odd whisky and soda or gin and tonic? Have you ever done any worthwhile work while under the influence? Please feel free to choose your drug of choice. Tobacco, amphetamines and benzodiazepines included. [Via eGullet's recent thread, started by Beans.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (32 comments total)
I take it that you don't have business lunches with Mormons in Portugal.
posted by machaus at 9:35 PM on January 11, 2004

I've written some of my best A papers and programs while smashed. College is awesome; there's nothing like Visual C++ and a case of Busch.
posted by tomorama at 9:39 PM on January 11, 2004

UNIX administration is all about caffeine. Period.
posted by hob at 9:41 PM on January 11, 2004

Could This Be The Renaissance Of The Three-Martini Lunch?

Could anyone else tell this was a Cardoso moment without looking at the author?

Do business and alcohol mix?

I sure understood the business world better after I'd been to my first convention and realized how many decisions and deals might be made under the influence.

Is a little lubrication slowly replacing mineral water and political correctness?

Calibration, my friends, cailbration.
posted by namespan at 9:46 PM on January 11, 2004

During the "digital revolution" in San Francisco circa 1995 it was considered de rigeur to smoke out your web development staff. Most of us who were freelance contractors often chose gigs based on who had the best stuff.

hob is right about the UNIX people. I remember the first Linux heads I met were in Austria. They were into stimulants and vitamin C. No lie. I used to bring them bags of oranges so they would let me into their treehouse.

Every trade has its identifying drug, if only perhaps the default of beer or coffee.
posted by squirrel at 10:14 PM on January 11, 2004

Yeah, rare is the computer science class without a kid with bedhead who taps his foot uncontrollably because he went to sleep four hours ago and drank two cups of coffee before he came to class.
posted by tomorama at 10:46 PM on January 11, 2004

order a drink that looks like one - may I recommend the "last call", ginger ale, pineapple juice and more. Looks like a fruity cocktail, wakes you up, and is alcohol free.
posted by dabitch at 10:57 PM on January 11, 2004

My personal fave is a stack of :
Ephedrine 20mg (bronchial dilation)
Caffeine 200mg (stimulant)
Aspirin 250mg (blood thinner)

You get a nice rush/energy boost from this - great for a workout, or just to wake up in the morning. Increased blood flow and oxygen uptake. Whenever I started my day with a workout and this combo, I'd be feeling great until the early afternoon. No real crash afterwards either, as long as I had a good lunch.

I'm annoyed that this will, like all good things, soon be illegal in the U.S.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:19 PM on January 11, 2004

Most of us who were freelance contractors often chose gigs based on who had the best stuff.

Oh, the romance! Where are the fucking *novels,* squirrel?

If only we'd detailed these business lunch toke-jams in your Praxis write-up... :) It would have explained a lot to the folks on Wall Street come the "Great Digital Shit Swallow" of 2000 :)

In less obscure terms, don't confuse the eternal glow of the kind green bud high with the tranisent finger-and-toe tingle of success in business. Work comes and goes but the munchies are their own reward.

:o [||||||]<*~

(bong hit emoticon)
posted by scarabic at 11:24 PM on January 11, 2004

Hmm... This doesn't seem to be about lunch but rather about schmoozing after the official business. A friend and I once tried a three-Martini lunch, replete with steak, shrimp cocktails and an attempt (not by me) to get the waitresses' (not waitperson in this context) phone number. I got exactly zero real work done in the afternoon and went to bed at 7:30.

Basically, I'm thinking alcohol increases the effectiveness of bullshit. If you have to produce something that will stand up to closer inspection, the Lunch just won't do.
posted by skyscraper at 11:40 PM on January 11, 2004

Yeah, we sure felt like were were inventing the new wheel, scarabic, whether we were or not. It's hard to put it in concrete terms one way or the other, though: the digital gold rush, with its attendant drug- and power-induced manias wasn't exactly the new dawn we might have thought it was at the time, but it wasn't all a pipe dream, either.

Many of those who were working in technology really were part of a revolution. And I'm not just talking about the icons who appeared on the cover of Wired. All the coders and engineers and designers were a part of it. Of course, the nature of that revolution appears now in hindsight to be more similar to the $tatus quo than we reckoned it was at the time.

This reminds me of Patrick Farley's great e-sheep comic about "the future." Farley worked with at Organic, which was for a while an emblem of creative techno-hedonism that PAID.

Skycraper, I've had lots of different kinds of jobs, and they always boil down to the social systems. Whether you're making pizzas or designing database architecture, how you move it and shake it the people makes almost the only difference. I've never been much of a drinker, but I recognize the symbolic importance of the alcohol rituals embedded into many work situations.
posted by squirrel at 12:03 AM on January 12, 2004

squirrel: I guess I was trying to distinguish between successful socializing (however important that might be to one's career) and getting something done that's worth something. Just a little jab at the arch-hedonist across the Atlantic.
posted by skyscraper at 12:17 AM on January 12, 2004

Drink with people you want to work for you. They will follow your lead.

Never drink with people for whom you want to work, unless you are following their lead.

But in either case, if it leads you to a dirty truck stop in Cabazon, you've gone too far.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:17 AM on January 12, 2004

but does this fluxus truly require snerting? only miguel may tell.
posted by quonsar at 12:27 AM on January 12, 2004

I guess I was trying to distinguish between successful socializing (however important that might be to one's career) and getting something done that's worth something.

I guess that's where we differ in perspective, skycraper: I find it difficult to draw a line between socializing and work that's worth something. I don't see this dualistically; they're integrated. Not that I've never tanked an otherwise productive afternoon with a team lunch-turned-bender, but even then, I don't see such times as automatically antithetical to the ultimate goal of the team, which usually extends beyond the next deadline.
posted by squirrel at 12:32 AM on January 12, 2004

If you're a hack, nothing you ingest will make you great.
If you're already great, well, then, it hardly fucking matters what you snort, sniff, gobble, quaff or rectally insert, does it?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:43 AM on January 12, 2004

personally, i find it difficult to program when even slightly drunk. i just can't keep the same amount of information flying around in my head. it gets mixed up. esr observed - hackers seem in general to dislike drugs that make them stupid.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:47 AM on January 12, 2004

andrew cooke: quite, at least insofar as said nerds are trying to do something that requires feeling smart. In school we all thought getting hammered and then trying to code something (recreationally) would be fun, but it never panned out. Too stupid to do anything clever; it'd go on for thirty seconds, and then someone would shove the coder out of the way and start up Nethack instead, and we'd cheer them on as they got on their pony, and got off, and repeated until they'd fallen (in the game) often enough to die from the experience.
posted by cortex at 5:16 AM on January 12, 2004

never met anyone in CS who coded drunk, but there are plenty who enjoy a bit of the wizard's lettuce. seems to be good for staring at the monitor for a couple of hours with your jaw hanging open. just remember: never, never, turn on your winamp visualizations. there goes your night...

although after 6 years in CS, most people seem to give up caffeine entirely and favour a good night's sleep.
posted by krunk at 7:20 AM on January 12, 2004

A little alcohol helps me concentrate. This goes for coding, bar sports etc. A lot of alcohol breaks me and this goes for coding, bar sports etc. Normally when I work my attention is easily diverted elsewhere by whatever appears in my in box. In grad school I'd often sit down with a couple six packs of Guinness and code or design circuits with a slight buzz.
posted by substrate at 7:28 AM on January 12, 2004

What bothers me about the news story (aside from the fact that it's not news, but never mind) is:

"There is tremendous pressure to indulge in alcohol on business-social occasions," said Fred Knapp, president and CEO of Frederick Knapp Associates Inc., New York-based providers of corporate leader development seminars. "It is a factor in building business relationships, or bonding."...

Those who do not consume alcoholic beverages should have something that looks like one, or order a glass of wine and let it sit on the table, he told Reuters. "At least be gracious to the point of ordering as part of the relationship-building process."

It seems to me there was more acceptance of nondrinkers a few years ago. I guess this is part of the Great Rollback.

This also seems more like an excuse for Miguel to have yet another discussion about booze than a front page post, but since the "what's your Scrabble score?" post was left alone, I guess that's just the way the front page is these days.
posted by languagehat at 7:43 AM on January 12, 2004

So...anyone have any ideas to increase revenue?
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 AM on January 12, 2004

"Bar sports"??? lol
posted by rushmc at 8:46 AM on January 12, 2004

It seems to me there was more acceptance of nondrinkers a few years ago.

I don't think it's that non-drinkers aren't accepted, per se -- I just don't think they can be trusted, depending on the industry. Of course we all know this is a load of bunkum in actuality. But, in my business (politics), if a group of folks goes to the nearest bar after a hot-and-heavy meeting, the guy who makes a big deal out of being the non-drinker is absolutely not being a team player; at least, that's the message he's going to subconsciously send. Is that worth it? Shouldn't this be a case of picking your battles, at least until all of society becomes enlightened enough? What's the harm in ordering a beer that sits untouched, or a club soda with lime?
posted by pineapple at 9:31 AM on January 12, 2004

If bowing to peer pressure is being a "team player," than count me out.
posted by rushmc at 10:22 AM on January 12, 2004

indeed, andrew cooke - I've tried writing code while drunk on a few occasions, and I generally end up with an unreadable mess that mostly works but has to be rewritten anyway. One beer at lunch and I have trouble re-focusing on work. After a three-martini lunch, I wouldn't even bother trying. But there's the difference between a social job and a technical one; if my job involved conversation with human beings more than two or three times a day, a mutual buzz would probably help things along.

Caffeine is the ultimate programming drug, when consumed in moderation: it peps you up and keeps your brain sharp, but not so much you can't sit still and think. Ephedrine is overkill.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:41 AM on January 12, 2004

I'm a bus driver for two elementary schools here, and my regimen is a combination of crystalline LSD (which eliminates any impurities that make me feel 'whacko'), a research chemical called 2CI, and vodka to take the edge off when I'm coming down at the end of the day.

just kidding.
posted by jdaura at 10:45 AM on January 12, 2004 [1 favorite]

the guy who makes a big deal out of being the non-drinker is absolutely not being a team player; at least, that's the message he's going to subconsciously send

But, see, why is not ordering a drink "making a big deal out of being the non-drinker"? Is ordering a beer making a big deal out of being a beer drinker? Does everyone have to order the same beer in order to be a team player?

As for drinking on the job, back in the wild and crazy '80s we all used to get smashed on our lunch break and then come back and work through the afternoon. It's all a matter of training. (Though, to be fair, I once did have to ask a non-drinking friend to read a job for me because I couldn't focus on it.) Now all that's gone, and I have to swipe my ID card every time I enter the building, and there are no windows anywhere near my office. Curse this degenerate decade! [/bitter off-topic rant]
posted by languagehat at 11:17 AM on January 12, 2004

It's all about stimulants for me. Caffeine and ephedrine now, uh.. other things when I was younger. I'm a coder who wants more hours in the day, so I stay up too late and then need the stimulants the next afternoon. It's not healthy, I know this.

When I'm unwinding and working on personal projects (yeah yeah, I know) I'll have a beer or two.. It usually just leads to a headache for me trying to code properly with a beer buzz though.
posted by SiW at 11:37 AM on January 12, 2004

A few years ago, I held a civil service post earning a rather modest income, so I would often bring my own lunch - usually a sandwich of some sort. As an occasional treat, I'd bring a beer - as sandwiches are one thing that to me taste best with beer. Often I'd bring one of the French Fischer Amber beers that have a reclosable lid, and leave the bottle in the icebox to split over a couple of days.
There was no policy against consuming an alcoholic beverage in our workplace, and I was never drunk from having 1/2 a beer with lunch. I never thought much about it. I'd spent some time in Europe, where having a beer with lunch is commonplace. However, occasionally one of my co-workers would get wide eyed or give me a scandalised look - or say something like "I can't believe you are DRINKING at work." I found it quite odd. I suppose some people can't separate having an alcoholic beverage from the act of getting drunk.
Now, I have occasionally worked with a bit of a buzz on - alcohol, or more often, ganja induced. Don't worry, I'm not an airplane pilot - this work was in a cube behind a computer. Probably not an ideal working state, but I was no more effected than I would have been after, say, pulling an all-nighter and coding with no sleep in 24 hours. Probably helped in opening up some creative synapses, actually. Caffeine and tobacco are regular vices. They may help a bit, though I'd like to cut back on the former and quit the latter. A lot of stimulant addiction is more about getting up to "level" than stimulated, and at that point becomes more a dependency than a "kick.:
posted by sixdifferentways at 2:16 PM on January 12, 2004

Coding drunk is bad. However, debugging drunk is a different matter. Near the end of one project, I took a night off, and went out with a friend for a few pints. Mug that I am, I popped my head into work on the way back to see how they were doing, and generally spread alcoholic cheer. Spent the rest of the night there, debugging, smoking, and drinking coffee. Worked out quite well, but then I love debugging, possibly more so than writing code in the first place.

I can't program stoned though. Too much tempation to fire up the music software and spend all night lost in thee infinite hypnotic beat (only to throw it away when I've sobered up, because, invariably, it's shit).
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:11 PM on January 12, 2004

Twenty years ago, I had my most serious experience at collaborative writing for a "news satire" program for a legendary Los Angeles radio station (the show's only surviving icon is the Frozen Embryo Song [free mp3], recorded long before I joined the group). I stood out from the rest of the group by being the only one who was his funniest when stone-cold-sober. Non-coinidentally, I was also the only writer who could work the copier.
posted by wendell at 5:58 PM on January 12, 2004

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