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Share responsibility for a safe night on the town

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
After spending the evening at a comedy show, I found myself at an underground Metro station in Washington, D.C. last summer. As I was talking to my husband, I noticed a young woman slouching against the concrete pillar. A minute later, when she vomited on herself and her clothing, she didn't even move to clean anything up. At that moment, my fears for her were confirmed--she was very drunk and all by herself, in a city known for its high crime rate.

My husband and a few people helped her out by handing her paper towels to clean herself and then she got on the train and sat in the back and covered her face in embarrassment.

Because it was a busy night, I wasn't able to sit with her right away--I had to wait for a few stops before the man sitting next to her vacated the seat and exited the train. I sat down next to her and began a conversation with her to make sure she was going to be alright getting home on her own, or if she would like me to accompany her on that journey.

During our conversation, she told me that she lived a block from her stop and that she had a roommate who would be there to take care of her. I just wanted to see her make it home safely. My train stop came up and we departed, after it was determined that she had sobered up. I gave her my number and asked her to let me know when she made it home. When she did, she thanked me for helping her out.

I was happy to be there for her--her drinking buddies certainly weren't.

This situation got me thinking about how the military always talks about not drinking and driving, which she made sure not to do. Unfortunately, making sure to not get behind a wheel isn't always enough--it's vital to have a sober Wingman to ensure you return home safely.

As members of the military, we are responsible for the wellbeing of our fellow Airmen. Part of that responsibility includes never abandoning your friend during a night on the town or at a party. There should always be a sober person in the group to keep bad things from happening.

Chief Master Sgt. Marty Anderson, 375th Air Mobility Wing command chief, said that oftentimes, people who get in trouble for a DUI never had a solid plan on who was going to be the designated driver.

"These guys say they were going to meet up and just have somebody drive us home," Anderson said. "That's not a good plan. Usually what happens is that, throughout the night, people get tired and leave. Then they end up leaving somebody behind and not making sure they have a plan. Or people say they are going to be the designated driver, but they end up finding somebody more interesting to hang out with for the remainder of the evening and leave their fellow Airmen behind at the bar or house, and then there's no way for them to safely get back home and make the decision to drive."

I don't know why this young lady's friends were not with her on the train, and I don't want to think about what might have happened if she didn't have a stranger take care of her. She should not have been left alone to fend for herself in her current state of mind. Something terrible might have occurred, and if it did, what kind of guilt would everyone experience? It is better to stick together than have regrets in the morning.

My philosophy with being a designated driver has always been, 'if we go out together, we come back together, period.'

Have a plan. Execute that plan. Return home safely.