Drunken encounters | AspenTimes.com

Drunken encounters

I can’t sit back and be silent about this subject any more. It’s a shame that I even have to write this letter to make a point about the abuse of alcohol in this valley.

There is a problem and we really need to address it as a community. Some need to address it personally. Whose job is it to educate the people? Do we put this burden on the local authorities or do we make a stand within our friendship circles or maybe with friends at the bar? Where does it begin … or where does it end?

When I caught the 8:15 local bus from Aspen on a Thursday night, after getting off of work, I didn’t expect a drunken encounter. I’ve been on the later buses and have had many a drunken encounter – even having to ride the bus while someone is vomiting! I’ve learned to avoid those late buses.

We stopped at the intercept lot at Brush Creek Road to transfer passengers and pick up others coming from Snowmass Village. After some passengers boarded, a drunken man stumbled up the stairs and then fell onto the bus driver! She was almost assaulted.

When the drunk picked himself up (while she was trying to call for help over the radio) he promptly stumbled and swayed backwards and fell back down the stairs of the bus and onto the pavement outside. The passengers who saw this were shocked. The bus driver was calling the police but no one got up to help this man up.

Finally, a good Samaritan went out to help the man get up, and while the drunk was arguing with the driver about calling the police, the good Samaritan was telling the drunk to sit down and wait. The police responded quickly and they took control of the situation.

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All the passengers observed this scenario including some young teens on board. Some found it funny. I found it very sad.

Conversations included references of him getting help through AA, bartenders overserving, alcoholism and overindulgence. We all seemed to have an opinion but it centered on alcohol abuse. I couldn’t help but feel pity for this man, and also revulsion. I wanted to somehow help him, but knew I couldn’t.

Some on the bus said that it was good he was taking the bus, but then I thought … what about the bus drivers and other (sober) passengers that don’t want to smell, hear, deal with the drunks?

I felt the driver handled herself very well, given the circumstances. She mentioned this man had traveled with her before and he was in the same drunken state. Pitiful.

We need some help with our alcohol attitudes and consumption. I hear an advertisement on the radio encouraging us to “DRINK UP!” and I see various ads in the paper for drink specials. All of this information swims in my head with the knowledge that over 400 DUI arrests occurred in Colorado on Saint Patrick’s Day. Sad, but true.

Can’t we practice some kind self-control when drinking? Will we?

Please, I ask those of you who make it a habit to get wasted (more often than not) and then ride the bus home in your drunken state to please try to be considerate of others.

If you think you need help with your drinking, you probably do. There is a great support system through AA in this valley. Ask a friend, or make that call. Good luck.

Wendy Hemingway

Snowmass