my coworker got drunk on a business trip and his hangover was a problem the next day

A reader writes:

I work in a financial role at a large company that does business across the country. I graduated from college and entered the workforce in my current role almost three years ago. My coworker (“Ted”) graduated from the same college a year after me and works in a different role at the company.

Last week, we were tasked with traveling to our alma mater to interview candidates for entry-level positions. Since we are both alumni and were recruited in a similar manner, HR values our opinions about potential candidates. A recruiter from the HR department accompanied us on this overnight trip (we’ll call her Jane).

Ted and I were both involved in Greek life at our university. Once we got to the school and were settling in (interviews started promptly at 8 a.m. the next morning so that we could get on the road on time), he informed me and Jane that he was going to go to the bars with members of his fraternity, but that it should be a low-key night, as students were busy with midterm exams. I tried not to judge, but thought this was a bit inappropriate. The school is in a tiny town with only two bars and, although one would hope a candidate would not be at one the night before an interview, there is a relatively sizable chance of running into someone you are meeting with the next morning. Jane and I both retired to the hotel after dinner and caught up on work, reviewed resumes, and went to bed early.

The next morning, Ted and I were to jointly interview candidates (while Jane interviewed them next). Ted was visibly hungover and was not able to formulate questions for the interviewees. There were notable long silences when I would ask if he had questions. His phone was not on silent and he apparently wasn’t bothered by it buzzing while we were conducting the interviews (I asked him to silence it between interviews and he said he hadn’t noticed). I was extremely annoyed by this behavior, as it was awkward for me and the candidates — he was completely disengaged and his demeanor communicated how little he cared about the interview.

I put these feelings aside and we got through the interviews. Ted apologized for being disengaged and said he wasn’t feeling well and “wished he had gone to bed earlier.” We left campus for the six-hour drive home. About 30 minutes into the trip, he asked me to pull over. Ted promptly jumped out of the car and vomited on the side of the road. He said that he didn’t remember getting back to our hotel the previous night and that it had been a rough night. Jane and I were shocked, but said we were sorry he wasn’t feeling well in an effort to not make the situation uncomfortable. I offered him a motion sickness tablet (I have issues with long car rides and bring it with me on every work trip) while I continued to drive.

Ted and I switched driving about halfway through the trip (Jane and I had done most of the driving on the way up). I went to take my motion sickness medicine to find that he had finished the pack. There were only a few tablets left, but he took more than the recommended dosage and knew that I needed it. For the remainder of the drive, Ted drove approximately 25 miles per hour over the speed limit, following cars about 12 inches back, and weaving through traffic. He also had his cell phone in his hand and was texting and reading from it constantly. I asked him if he could avoid texting and driving or allow me to drive if he needed to make a call, but he said that it was “fine” and that he needed to “place his bets” for a sports wager he was engaging in later that night. I tried to block it out and closed my eyes for the rest of the trip. I am not sure what his driving style usually is, but this was extremely dangerous.

The last incident came when we were almost to the office, our final destination. There was an accident on the highway that had caused a traffic jam, but we were still only about 10 minutes out after incorporating the delay. Ted made an inappropriate comment about (please excuse this language) the traffic being “retarded” and drove on the shoulder for about two minutes to avoid the traffic — in front of police, no less.

I have not spoken with Jane about this series of incidents yet. I am not Ted’s superior, but am senior to him. Should I speak with someone in HR about how his behavior was at best inappropriate and worst dangerous? At the very least I do not think that he should be invited to interview candidates in the future, although I also believe that his behavior warrants disciplinary action. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Talk to whoever manages the recruiting trips so they know about this in case they’re considering sending him on future trips, but more importantly, talk to his manager so that she knows how Ted behaves on business trips, has a heads-up about his judgment, and can talk to him about unsafe driving.

All of this is ridiculous — the drinking until he apparently blacked out, the inability to do any real work the next day, the rude behavior during the interviews, the vomiting out the car the next day — but the driving part is the worst. At a minimum, his manager needs to tell him that he’s required to drive safely and legally when he’s driving for work. But ideally she’ll address the rest of it too — telling him that when he’s traveling for work, he’s there to work, not drink, and it’s not acceptable for his drinking to impact his engagement the next day, or his coworkers. A good manager would want to know about this stuff and would want to address it.

Also! If you’re ever in a situation again where you feel unsafe with a coworker who’s driving you (or anyone, really), please speak up! It’s very much okay to say, “Ted, you’re not driving safely, and I’m not comfortable being a passenger with you right now. Please pull over and Jane or I will drive the rest of the way.” You do not have to just close your eyes and pray. I suspect you didn’t want to be confrontational, but it’s worth being a little confrontational when your safety (or other people’s) is at risk. I don’t mean to be lecture-y here — I think we’ve all been in your shoes and chosen the “polite” path when we shouldn’t have, and it can be really hard to know how to navigate this kind of thing in the moment. But it’s worth resolving that if there’s a next time, you’ll speak up.

{ 583 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m putting this right up here where people will hopefully see it before commenting — please don’t criticize the letter writer for not handling this the way you think she should have in the moment. It’s not helpful, and she is not the one to blame here; Ted is. And it’s really common for people early in their career to be uncomfortable with confronting or correcting a coworker (actually, that’s true of people of all ages).

    That said, constructive comments about how to handle situations like this in the future are welcome!

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      +1! It’s so hard to know how you would handle something, and recent college grads should not be faulted for not knowing what to do in a situation where she is already fearful.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      I can only speak to the driving portion of the question. As a passenger in a co-worker’s car while driving on the freeway, he mentioned that he had to take a conference call in 5 minutes. I immediately said that it was not safe to be talking on the phone while driving and to pull over at the next exit and I would drive. Luckily he is a reasonable individual and pulled off at the next exit. A phone call that he expected to take 10 minutes ended up taking a half hour and at that point we were both glad that the driver switch occurred.

      1. Observer*

        Well, that’s a key thing – your co-worker was reasonable! Ted was NOT. The OP offered to take the wheel, and kept on asking him to put away his phone. What exactly do you think you would have done had you coworker reacted like Ted?

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Without any judgement on what the OP did since I, too, am pretty non-confrontational, it might have helped to be more direct – telling Ted “I’ll drive” instead of asking/offering. Rather than “Ted, would you like me to drive?” something like “Ted, I’m not comfortable with you driving and texting. Let’s stop at that gas station for some snacks and I’ll drive the rest of the way.” Or if you’re worried that your driver’s driving will get worse if challenged, maybe suggest the stop (“I need to use the bathroom” would always work) and then afterwards take the wheel back (and, in an extreme case, refuse to get back into the passenger seat).

          Again, I don’t fault the OP AT ALL for not doing this… I’m more thinking it through in case I ever find myself in this scenario.

        2. Jennifer Thneed*

          Part of this is that you don’t ask, you tell. The OP offered to drive, and asked if he could put away the phone. Flat statements work better. So, what I would do is this: Don’t ask a person if maybe they’d rather you drive, instead *tell* them that you would rather drive, and they should pull over when they can safely do so.

          (I still remember – with deep chagrin – a time a couple of decades back when a good friend asked me if I’d rather he drove and I should have said yes! Instead, I took it as a challenge to prove that I could drive safely. I couldn’t, not really, but happily we were on small roads. We did all get home okay, and I apologized to him later. That’s when I started to learn that sometimes questions are actually suggestions.)

    3. Carrie*

      Two typos in this sentence, Alison: “And it’s really uncommon for people early in their carer to be uncomfortable with confronting or correctly a coworker”

    4. Specialk9*

      OP, we are 100% on your side. After you report him, thoroughly, to your company please come back and tell us what happened, ok? We would love an update.

    5. Noah*

      I’m probably going get banned for saying this, but maybe it’s not a criticism: In my view it would be incredibly helpful to tell OP that they should not call extra attention to Ted’s inability to interview by asking him if he has any questions in interview after interview after figuring out he would not be able to formulate a question. I totally get how that would happen (which is why I hope this isn’t viewed as a criticism), but for future situations (and these things do come up), OP should definitely be advised not to do that.

      I also think it would help OP to know that, if somebody is being incredibly dangerous like Ted is, it’s totally okay to demand they pull over and let you drive or let you out.

    6. Wintermute*

      It’s all too easy to judge, you’re right.

      One realization I’ve come to is the reality is most people have a fairly narrow range of expected outcomes from a situation. You ask someone if they want coffee their responses are likely to be yes, or no, or maybe a request for tea, and even that is likely to throw you a little. If they stand up, start flailing their arms and shouting “COFFEE DOES NOT EXIST! STOP LYING TO ME!” in your face repeatedly you’re not going to know what the heck to do.

      In the same way when someone crosses a professional boundary a tiny bit, or an expected amount, it’s easy to stand up for yourself. ” I don’t think we should say things about Wakeen we wouldn’t want him to hear,” “What exactly do you mean by that?” “That hasn’t been my experience with Arya’s management” and other great scripts you’ve given us over the years.

      But when they not only cross the line but rocket past it on a alcohol-fueled drag car with an inappropriate license plate, while blaring vulgar music and flipping a double bird out the window– we just freeze, we have no frame of reference, we haven’t ever come up with an internal script for this! You just lock up and default to “go along to get along” mode that’s been very well socialized into you since you were young.

      1. Christine D*

        This is wonderfully said and exactly what I think happens when regular boundaries morph into crazy-town.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Everything Alison said, but holy smokes, OP. I am so sorry you had this experience. My eyebrows shot up after the hungover part, but if they could go any higher, they’d be way past my hairline.

    1. Nuufa*

      I know this is a bit off topic but I just have to say how much I enjoy your comments Princess Consuela Banana Hammock. I love how animated and expressive your words are and I’m glad you are always one of the first to post and post frequently. I also really love how you always have a personal story / anecdote for every letter. I’m sure the letter writers (and other commentators) also enjoy and find so helpful.

      1. What do I put here?*

        We really are lucky on this site that people with so much valuable experience can take time out of their hectic schedules to share what they’ve learned.

    2. zora*

      Ted is SUCH a jerk!!! I’m sorry you had to deal with him, OP, ugh, I really want to smack him one right now.

  3. Enya*

    Ted is a creep. I would have insisted he pull over and let me or Jane drive- and if he refused, I’d threaten to call 911 and report his dangerous driving. And if he wouldn’t pull over, I’d have made the call.

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s a clear thing to do in hindsight, but the moment, it’s harder to make that figurative call. It’s also a response that’s paradoxically more likely when you’re the only passenger–when there are two of you, the other person’s behavior reinforces your own and vice versa.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes. And it’s really unhelpful to the OP to make her question all about “here’s how, if it had been me in that situation, I would 100% have done things perfectly, unlike YOU.”

        1. [insert witty user name here]*

          I think that’s taking it a little far. While Enya could have worded their comment slightly differently, I was coming to post something similar. Personally, I think the intent is more “hey, OP, I know you’re still new to the workforce, so here’s letting you know that it’s OK to more forcefully advocate for yourself, and here’s a way to do it, since Ted wasn’t taking you seriously otherwise.”

        2. PersephoneUnderground*

          There is a Dickens quote from a Christmas Carol I always think of when this comes up: “it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done it too”. So true :)

          1. Lissa*

            So true! I was really happy to see Alison’s comment upfront, as to be honest this phenomenon is one of the things that has me opening the comments section with more trepidation these days, and means I would almost certainly not send a letter.

            1. Candi*

              Since Alison doesn’t publish most of the letters she receives, you could always mark it “do not publish”. /meant to be helpful /sincere

        3. Specialk9*

          Agreed. Most of us (myself included) know exactly how *others* should act, but can find our own situation challenging.

          To be clear: the problem is with your “I would have…” armchair quarterbacking. If you said “you would be within your rights to…” or some other *supportive* language, that’s a different kettle of fish.

          1. CanCan*

            Personally, I would have sat there agonizing whether I should say something and then been angry at myself for saying nothing. But that’s not what I propose should have been done :)

            Fortunately, we have laws against using the phone while driving. The OP didn’t mention that, so I guess the behaviour was not obviously illegal in her location.

      2. Lynca*

        One thing that helps with this is training. We drive as a huge part of our work and it is drilled into us what not to do along with typical safety training. As well as to report things that happen like texting and driving while in a work vehicle, etc.

        I have had to demand co-workers pull over before. I was a lot more empowered about it knowing that it was a severe issue for my workplace that will not be tolerated.

        1. Natalie*

          Practicing on your own, or maybe with a helpful friend, can be useful if there’s no formal training available. It seems dumb at the time (or at least it does to me!) but it makes it so much easier to get past the “what do I do???” moment.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yes! If you’ve had practice, it’s so much easier to say in the moment. I feel ridiculous at the time, but it’s worth it to me to have practiced it before.

            1. Plague of frogs*

              I practice stuff in my head a lot, and it’s helped me become much more assertive. With luck, I will be overbearing and abrasive by the time I’m elderly!

              (Just kidding about the second sentence. I think.)

              1. Jennifer Thneed*

                “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
                With a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me”

                (Which was prolly the origin of the Red Hat Society, given that they tend to wear purple clothes with their red hats.)

        1. fposte*

          Heh. I think there’s another concept–not diffusion of responsibility but something else–I was trying to get to, but I’d forgotten about the good old Abilene paradox. I wouldn’t be surprised if the OP was thinking “Well, Jane’s in HR and she’s not saying anything, so I guess it’s not done” while Jane was thinking “Well, OP is senior to Ted and she’s not saying anything, so I guess it’s not done.”

          1. Candi*


            I didn’t know the name, but I’ve heard the concept; the “joke” that a commitee is a group of people who all want A but go in and decide on B comes to mind.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, this. Years ago, I went on a date and the guy took me to a very rural bar in the middle of nowhere. He practically pickled himself and I had to ride back with him. It was the longest and scariest car ride of my life–his car was a stick, which I don’t drive, and I just hung on and hoped I wouldn’t die.

        In hindsight, I can think of alternatives, but at the time, I didn’t know what to do.

    2. MuseumChick*

      This is where I came down on this. Though so someone still fairly new to the work place, just out of school like the OP I understand why she didn’t think of it in the moment.

      1. CG*

        Honestly, I’ve been in the workplace for years, and this behavior is just so inappropriate and out of norm that I’m pretty sure I’d have been in shock, rather than having a ready “of course I should X in this situation!” thought train pop into my head…

        1. Jadelyn*

          I think it’s probably less about being new to the workforce entirely, and more being unused to road-tripping with coworkers for work purposes. I’d been working for a few years before the first time I had to do that, and I still felt really awkward and uncertain of the etiquette of it.

          That aside, Ted sounds like a grade-A jackass, and I hope OP talks to Ted’s manager ASAP, because they need to know they have an employee who is cool with recklessly endangering his colleagues.

          1. sap*

            I’m one of those people who literally cannot stay awake as a passenger in a moving car, it’s like taking a whole bottle of benadryl. I *hate* road tripping with coworkers because I know it’s rude to sleep in cars in many scenarios… Especially because I also involuntarily drool when sleeping in cars. It’s always an awkward choice between looking like I’m choosing to sleep in the car if I come prepared with a neck pillow to catch the drool, or I just drooled on a seat that a coworker may need in the near future.

        2. Wintermute*

          Exactly! when someone rockets past the line of acceptable behavior so hard it breaks our social interaction scripts.

          Observing a situation like this you can practically see the needle skip off the record in their brain. They’re running their daily interaction mental program, and when they expect input in a certain range suddenly they get something they have no clue how to handle, it’s like trying to divide by zero, your calculator just starts displaying funny numbers because the input doesn’t make sense.

    3. palomar*

      It’s really easy for people to say what they would have done in a given situation, when it’s a hypothetical to them and they don’t actually have to work through the situation that they’re pontificating on. More than once I’ve heard someone make statements about how they would have handled a situation much better than someone else did, and then I’ve been present when that same person has found themselves in a dicey situation that they then handle less than perfectly (and never in the way they claim that they handle those sorts of things). I know it’s less than charitable of me, but lordy, do I ever take pleasure in witnessing that kind of hubris.

      Anyway, my point is, don’t be like that. You’re just asking the universe to kick you in the teeth.

      1. Oranges*

        I agree. Also, you’re not the only one who gets schadenfreude.

        It always amazes me that people think they know what they’ll do when they’re put on the spot. Like yeah, you can think it out now intellectually but in the moment? Humans are really really really bad at that type of thinking/decision-making unless they’ve been trained (by classes or by experience).

      1. Just Allison*

        I was wondering the same thing, it might also be beneficial for Jane to report Ted. So that there are two accounts that corroborate what happened.

    4. Rowan*

      Not to derail too much, but calling 911 on someone can really easily get them killed. Getting the cops involved is a very big step to take for a minor infraction.

      1. Turkletina*

        I sympathize with this position. But Ted’s driving could really easily have gotten OP, their colleagues, and/or others killed.

      2. NaoNao*

        Weaving around the road, impaired driving, and texting while driving, (distracted driving) isn’t really a ‘minor infraction’ the way, say, rolling through a unoccupied, rural stop sign at 2 AM might be.

      3. INTP*

        Ted’s driving could have gotten OP killed. Lingering alcohol in his system + an excessive dose of dramamine + no sleep meant he was almost certainly not safe to drive. If he refused to let OP drive, it wouldn’t be unfair to put his life at risk by calling 911, considering he was putting others’ life at risk by driving, and was given a chance to safely step down and hand over the wheel.

      4. Jennifer Thneed*

        Totally agree with this for situations where a person is NOT driving a car. People who are impaired by drugs or illness have a hard time following barked-out orders, and they do end up getting shot by the cops.

        But those are city cops. This would be highway cops, in a very different situation. (In my state, it’s a state-wide organization. Don’t know if that’s true everywhere, but I still think that the situation is different enough that this wouldn’t be the same kind of dangerous.)

        Also, the passenger making the call can say “I’m a passenger in this car” which gives the cops valuable information. And they’re unlikely to shoot the driver of a moving car on a highway (I hope!), because of all the other drivers they’d put in danger.

        1. sap*

          You would be surprised by the number of supreme Court cases that start with a cop shooting into a moving vehicle on a highway, which is more than 1 in the last decade or so.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            Not disagreeing with you, but:
            Those situations probably did not start with someone calling 911. That’s the specific situation we’re discussing.

  4. AdAgencyChick*


    Go with Jane to Ted’s boss and tell her everything. I’d include as part of your conversation that you want Ted to be spoken to specifically about not retaliating against you or Jane. You’re senior to Ted, but that doesn’t mean he won’t start treating both of you rudely if he feels like you “ratted him out.” He needs to be told in no uncertain terms that that is not acceptable (if he even keeps his job).

    1. Snark*

      Seconded heartily. Absolutely NONE OF THIS is okay. His professional conduct was appalling, his neglect of the interviews was appalling, his aggressive and distracted driving was super appalling. And it wasn’t just unprofessional and terrible, it poorly represented your employer to potential candidates, recruiters, and a university community you’re fostering a relationship with. HELL NAH.

      1. Snark*

        And just in general, Ted? Grow up, you pissant child. You’re not a 20 year old frat brother anymore. It’s not rad to get black0ut hammered anymore. Grownups who get blackout drunk on week nights are called lushes and alcoholics. Grow the hell up, get your shit together, drive like a sane and responsible person, stop using third grade insults, and place your sports bets on your own goddamn time.

        1. Green*

          I’ve actually had too much to drink on a work trip (sometimes it can add up if you’re not paying attention, you can get stuck talking to someone for a while, open bars/waiters walking around constantly refilling, feeling anxious, etc. and 7 a.m. comes earlier than you’d think!), but I certainly didn’t (1) go hang out with a bunch of undergraduates, (2) announce that I drank too much, (3) announce that I’d blacked out, and (4) said last night was “rough” because I stayed out too late with some undergraduate fraternity brothers…

          If I was unable to work, I wouldn’t half-drunkenly stumble through it, and would just take a sick day (blaming food poisoning or a bug or something) and apologize for the inconvenience.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            Yep. My work involves a LOT of alcohol (lots of cocktail hours / networking stuff) and I have miscalculated at a conference before. Honestly I chalk it up to a learning experience. But if you’re too sick to work, for the love of god, take sick leave as you would if you caught a stomach bug, and be discreet about it.

            1. Yorick*

              That was my thought- why did he go to the interviews? He could have claimed to be sick and OP would have known the truth, but it wouldn’t have made such a bad impression on the candidates.

              1. Green*

                The lack of common sense and discretion here is really more of the problem than the overindulgence (which obviously isn’t professional, but can happen to folks occasionally).

                OP wouldn’t have known he was hungover (although she maybe could have guessed!) if he hadn’t announced he was going out with fraternity brothers at the college bar, and if he’d stayed in bed sick instead of embarrassing the company at the interviews. He hurt himself (and the company) here, by not maintaining distance between his personal activities and work…

                1. Bagpuss*

                  Maybe he was not so much hungover as still drunk, if he was blackout drunk hen he rolled into bed the night before. In which case his lac of judgement may be (partially) explained…

                  I’d be concerned that someone who was vomiting out of the car may well not have been fit (either legally or practically) to drive.

                  I think OP and Jane would have been completely justified in refusing to let Ted drive and/or insisting he pull over once they saw how he was driving.

                  OP, I definitely think that it would be appropriate for you to report the whole range of how he behaved to his, and your boss.

                  If you feel you have the standing to do so, it might be worth suggesting that the company think about offering dome training / guidance about travel safety – both to try to avid this kind of incident but also to help anyone caught up with a Ted feel more confident about speaking up in the moment.

                2. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

                  We had a junior staffer who used to get drunk at every function that had free drinks. People smiled indulgently until someone point out that he was known as Wakeem the drunk from Teapots Inc. His boss finally realized that wasn’t a good thing.

          2. zora*

            Seriously. I’ve gotten too drunk on a work trip as well (a big drinking culture, senior staff buying rounds and peer pressure) but I just sucked it up and got through my day looking as functional as possible.

            It sucked and was really hard, but I checked with people I trusted afterwards who said they really couldn’t tell how badly I was feeling. Ted handled this really badly, adults don’t whine. You make it work. It’s not impossible.

            1. TardyTardis*

              I have gone to a convention and been um, still ‘happy’ by 2 pm the next day, though surprisingly I never became ill that time. But that was on my own time, when I was much much younger, and I definitely was not driving.

              Being impaired at work, which I have had happen because of a bug, not drink, requires lots of water, coffee, and a soupcon of aspirin/other pain reliever (and ramped up alertness when around other people).

              Ted is a weasel, and possibly life-threateningly so.

          3. INTP*

            I think Ted was probably still drunk when a lot of this stuff happened so his judgment was just nonexistent. I think he was definitely under the influence when he showed up to interview in the morning, possibly well into the day. NOT excusing it at all of course, he should not have drunk that much in the first place. I’ve had the same experience as you with accidentally drinking too much, or getting a surprise hangover with a relatively small amount of alcohol, but as you point out there are a million more layers of inappropriate behavior on top of just having a hangover. (Which isn’t ideal, but it happens.)

            This also means that between having just sobered up, not slept, and taken an excessive amount of dramamine, Ted was also probably not in any condition to drive safely. Which is his responsibility to gauge, NOT the OP’s, this is not a criticism of OP at all. I’m just pointing out that it adds another layer of Super Not Okay to Ted’s behavior.

        2. Jaguar*

          Wait, this is the line you take with alcoholics? “Grow up”? I’m not going to speak to the guy in this letter because who knows what his situation is, but alcoholism is an addiction, not just poor behaviour. Getting sanctimonious and shaming because someone has a problem is the opposite of helpful and hard to distinguish from self-serving virtue signalling.

          1. Turkletina*

            I think Snark’s point is that a level of weeknight drinking that might have been considered acceptable when Ted was a frat brother is not acceptable for working adults. If Ted’s attitudes toward binge drinking haven’t changed (and he’s not actually suffering from alcoholism), he needs to reconsider the maturity of those attitudes.

            1. Specialk9*

              Yeah. “You’re not a 20 year old frat brother anymore. It’s not rad to get black0ut hammered anymore. Grownups who get blackout drunk on week nights are called lushes and alcoholics.”

              Is very much NOT “ha ha alcoholics need to grow up”. That’s just looking to be offended.

            2. Wine on beer, never fear*

              “I think Snark’s point is that a level of weeknight drinking that might have been considered acceptable when Ted was a frat brother is not acceptable for working adults.”

              Drinking is legal. What adults do when they’re off of work is their business, and it’s absolutely none of your business to say whether weeknight drinking, even to excess, is “acceptable” or not.

              What was unacceptable in this story is that the drinking impacted Ted’s performance in the morning at the interviews and throughout the rest of the day.

              1. As Close As Breakfast*

                Except that, if what ‘adults do when they’re off of work’ directly results in unacceptable impacts at work it sort of crosses the line into being your boss/companies business. At the very least, the company can (and should) say Ted’s behavior/performance was unacceptable and by ’cause and effect’ the excessive drinking the night before is absolutely unacceptable. Of course, this is fairly reasonable work related common sense, which it seems Ted may lack.

                1. Wine on beer, never fear*

                  That not what Turtlelina said, though. She said, ” a level of weeknight drinking that might have been considered acceptable when Ted was a frat brother is not acceptable for working adults.” Full stop – no qualifications about whether or not said drinking impacted your work.. And if it does impact you work, that’s between the employer and the employee — some random third party has no business declaring whether or not it’s “acceptable.”

                  I’m a working adult. I’m going to drink on a weeknight whether or not it meets with your approval. You’re not the 18th amendment police.

                2. Turkletina*

                  WOBNF: You’re repeatedly ignoring the entire context of this thread, which I think is disingenuous.

                  And I’m also a working adult who drinks on worknights. I’m not here to police you.

              2. Turkletina*

                Right. The “growing up” has to do with understanding the consequences –including inability to perform one’s job — of that kind of drinking. And since it did affect Ted’s performance, what he did was not acceptable.

                1. Wine on beer, never fear*

                  “And since it did affect Ted’s performance, what he did was not acceptable.”

                  This is what debaters call a “case shift” – you realize you original statement was untenable, so you change it. Now it’s condition on his performance.

                  Even given that, it’s between the employer and Ted, not you.

                2. Face Facts*

                  WOBNF: It’s very, very clear that the “unacceptable level” of drinking ACAB is talking about is precisely the level which renders a person incapable of functioning professionally the next day. This varies from person to person, but most adults with any experience drinking have a good idea what it is for them. Ted not only went considerably over that limit but, to judge from his comments the night before, fully intended to get extremely messed up. Picking on people for objecting to this makes no sense. You’d do better to stop parsing people’s responses as absolute judgments on alcohol consumption and read them in context. Your defensiveness about this is, let’s say, odd.

                3. Turkletina*

                  WOBNF: I think I’m being consistent. We’re all writing comments on a blog about workplace norms, and most folks understand that in that context “acceptable” means “acceptable for an employee”.

                  And since the letter writer literally asked for advice on what to do about Ted’s workplace performance, I think it *is* our business.

          2. Bostonian*

            I don’t see anywhere in that comment where Snark tells alcoholics to grow up. He tells Ted to grow up, because Ted’s behavior was immature.

            1. Anon druggie*

              Furthermore, I AM an alcoholic and Ted does need to grow up.
              1. Snark wasn’t saying that.
              2. We don’t know if Ted is an alcoholic or not
              3. Better to be told by an anonymous person online than by the cops, HR, a divorce attorney, or the myriad number of other ways we figure it out. Alcoholism sucks, and if Ted has it, this is far from the worst thing someone will ever say to him.

              1. Academic Lurker*

                I’m sorry that you’re dealing with addiction. Sending thoughts of strength and peace in the new year.

          3. Wannabe Disney Princess*

            Whoa, that seems a little harsh. Snark was addressing the behavior of Ted as a whole.

            1. Jaguar*

              If you think someone is an alcoholic, “grow up” is an awful thing to say to them. If you think they aren’t an alcoholic, you shouldn’t flippantly accuse them of being one. “Alcoholic” is a statement of someone’s problem, not an insult.

              1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

                Yes. You’re right. I’ve dated one. And also watched it destroy my cousin. So that line of conversation ends here and now.

                In the letter Ted (who isn’t even the LW) acted immature. Snark said he needs to grow up. He mentioned that level of drinking is equal to being an alcoholic. I didn’t take that as an insult. It can be an eye-opener.

              2. Snark*

                I told him to grow up because he was acting like an immature jackwagon, not because I thought he was an alcoholic. I said “grownups who get blackout drunk on weeknights are called lushes and alcoholics” to underline that nobody thinks you’re an awesome dude who can rage hard when you binge-drink after college, they think you’re pathetic at best or that you have a problem at worst. Can we consider the point clarified and move on, please?

                I’ve got a half-dozen recovering alcoholics in my family, including one parent, so I neither need nor appreciate the lecture.

                1. Jaguar*

                  I’m not following you on you not using it as an insult. To put it in different contexts, to take a bad behaviour (binge drinking) and the problem it can be a symptom of (alcoholism), you wouldn’t say to someone acting sullen that “we call those people depressives.” Maybe you didn’t intend to use it as an insult, but you nevertheless did in the same way people use “psycho” or “bi-polar” as to shame people out of unpleasant behaviour.

              3. Wine on beer, never fear*

                Exactly. And occasionally carousing a bit too much on a weeknight doesn’t inherently make you an alcoholic. (I’m not saying definitely that Ted isn’t an alcoholic, of course, merely that we don’t have remotely near enough information to draw that conclusion.)

          4. Snark*

            No. This is the line I take with post-college, salaried professionals who revert to juvenile binge drinking to the point that they’re nonfunctional the next day when they’re representing their company.

            But thanks ever so much for the sanctimonious dressing-down, speaking of self-serving virtue signaling. What is it with this thread today?

            1. Green*

              Sometimes fun events occur on weeknights. There’s no moral distinction between getting drunk on a Friday or Monday, especially if you take sick leave if you aren’t able to work. And there’s no moral distinction between getting drunk as a salaried professional or an hourly worker.

              The problem here is that he made his having had too much to drink reflect poorly on the company because he went to work without being on his A game.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                If you know you’re conducting an interview the next day, the responsible move would be to decline that particular party invitation. Ability to take sick leave is great, but planning to get so drunk you need to take sick leave is usually not considered very professional behavior.

                1. Green*

                  I have more of an issue with the tone and the chastizing (or suggesting Ted, or other people who have done this once or twice in their careers are lushes, juvenile or alcoholics), especially while lamenting sanctimonious dressing downs.

                  Is it professional? No. Is it more professional to take time off when you are unable to function than to half-drunkenly stumble through something? Yes. Is it possible that occasionally something unexpected comes up (on a week night! the horror!) and an otherwise responsible and professional adult may find themselves having overindulged or unusually impacted by alcohol consumption? Yes.

                  Ted was undoubtedly unprofessional in this circumstance, but there’s no need for wide proclamations barring alcohol on Tuesdays or for salaried workers or for drawing broader conclusions about Ted or anyone else who may have an incident of overindulgence.

                  Also, some workplaces are WAY more alcohol-permissive/focused/encouraging/peer pressuring than others. So the degree to which Ted’s behavior would be considered unprofessional is workplace dependent. Hell, many law firm interviews at law schools involve free flowing high-end booze at dinners the night before and wild tales at late night clubs to judge how “fun” the interview candidates are, since they’re all pretty much qualified…

                2. Annonymouse*

                  But that’s not the issue.

                  Getting so drunk you blackout/can’t function at all on a week night when YOU ARE AN ADULT AND HAVE WORK THE NEXT DAY is the point Snark is making.

                  Of course you can drink responsibly on a week night, or might not realise this is your 8th glass of wine over a long business dinner because you’re so wrapped up in conversation and your glass keeps getting topped up.

                  It happens. As an adult you either hold it together or, if you’re not sure you can, you call in sick.

                  Teds situation is not this at all.

                  This wasn’t oops! Didn’t realise I had so much because distracted by talk etc.

                  Ted got black out drunk. On a work trip.

                  There is no way Ted could have gotten this drunk off just beer unless he drank half a keg.

                  And is no-one concerned he could have bought drinks for underage frat members?

                  What he might have told potential candidates or frat brothers who were at the bar?

                  No one is demonizing alcohol or anyone who enjoys drinking outside of work times.

                  We are pointing out showing up to work drunk or hungover is not acceptable and drinking until you get blackout drunk is irresponsible at any time.

              2. Snark*

                “The problem here is that he made his having had too much to drink reflect poorly on the company because he went to work without being on his A game.”

                Thank you for recapitulating my point, I guess.

            2. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

              Everyone has a case of the Mondays?
              I agree with you, professional behaviour extends beyond 9-5 when you are travelling and conducting business on behalf of your employer.

          5. AKchic*

            Nobody has diagnosed Ted as an alcoholic. We are saying that Ted’s behavior is childish and it needs to change.
            Because right now, there is no diagnosis, therefore his behavior is not protected. Even if he was a diagnosed alcoholic, the behavior he displayed wouldn’t be protected. You don’t get to just revert to your frat-self and relive your supposed glory-year(s) because you’ve returned to your alma mater. You don’t get to get black-out drunk on a work trip because you’ve returned to old stomping grounds. You don’t get to blow off potential employees, besmirch the company name (the very company that is paying you good money to be there and represent them, who paid you good money to go drinking the night before while you reminisced about yesteryear) because you’re reliving the “good ‘ol days” and feeling your former youth. You certainly don’t get to blow chunks on the side of the road, drive erratically, use terrible, outdated, and insulting language; put people in danger while driving, drive illegally, and generally be a tool – and then say “well, I *might* be an alcoholic” and use that to explain it all away and give him a pass based on one night’s interaction.
            One of the first things a addict learns is accountability. Ted’s behavior, regardless of sobriety, is still on him. His actions are still his own. And he has to own up to it and make amends for that.

            1. Wine on beer, never fear*

              ” You don’t get to just revert to your frat-self and relive your supposed glory-year(s) because you’ve returned to your alma mater.”

              Actually, you do. It’s a free country and people are allowed to socialize with whomever they wish off-hours.

              1. a1*

                Not if it impacts your job performance the next day. Yes, the issue is with your job performance, but if you know drinking in excess makes you a crappy employee and you want to stay employed at said job, you do not drink to excess on work nights.

              2. Elizabeth H.*

                I think what’s implied is,

                When it has a serious negative impact on your job performance,
                “You don’t get to just revert to your frat-self and relive your supposed glory-year(s) because you’ve returned to your alma mater” without consequences.

                1. Wine on beer, never fear*

                  Perhaps. I, however, think the opposite, and that the posters making this point are issuing a blanket condemnation of weeknight drinking.

                2. Annonymouse*

                  No we aren’t

                  Having beer or wine over dinner is not a sin. Catching up with friends at a bar is not shocking or scandalous.

                  Getting too drunk so you can’t function as a human, let alone an employee, the next day is the issue.

                  Expecting people to show up at work sober instead of hungover or still drunk is not the first step to a 1984/farenheit 451 existence. It’s part of the social contract.

                3. Snark*

                  “Perhaps. I, however, think the opposite, and that the posters making this point are issuing a blanket condemnation of weeknight drinking.”

                  Well, your thinking is off base. My meaning was clear to any reasonable reader, and I am not inclined to endlessly caveat, justify, and defend my posts for the benefit of people dead set on misinterpreting them, Glad we cleared that up. Now drop it.

              3. LSP*

                I don’t think this comment is addressing Ted visiting his former fraternity. It is addressing the getting black-out drunk (like a current college student might) and falling down on the job during a business trip.

                1. Tiny Soprano*

                  Exactly. Sure, he can choose have a weeknight drink. Fun! Yay! Sure, he can totally do it with his old frat buddies. Cool, old friends! A couple of beers with the old mates! Totally fine.

                  BUT if he chooses to get so hammered that he’s utterly beyond functioning the next day, when he knew ahead of time that he was going to be a) at work, b) representing his company in front of external people, and c) driving (!!!), then no, that’s not ok. Holy flaming margaritas, Batman, that is some poor judgement! And yes, his workplace and colleagues have every right to be cranky about it.

              4. EchoChamber*

                I mean… I can very easily see how someone just two years out of college is excited to be back at their alma mater and ends up overindulging to that point, intentionally or otherwise. I’m not saying Ted wasn’t wrong, but any time recruiters came to my college town it was very common for the younger ones who were alumni to go out to the bars and relive their glory days. Also, recent grads who are relatively new to the working world are still learning. They’re going to mess up. They’re going to exercise poor judgment. I agree that Snark’s comment came of as extremely sanctimonious, and I’m kind of surprised Allison let this comment go:

                January 11, 2018 at 10:58 am
                Jaguar, stop digging. You’re way off base and you’re pissing me off.

          6. Alienor*

            I think the “grow up” is meant for people who still think it’s cool to drink like frat boys, not people with actual diagnosed alcoholism. A lot of people end up with an addiction and/or health problems because they kept drinking like frat boys long after they should have stopped, so the idea is for the guy in the letter to grow up before that happens to him.

            1. Lissa*

              Yes, this behaviour says immature to me, not alcoholic. I’d be more likely to think alcoholic if the drinking was Ted alone in his room or something. Going out to party like you’re 20? Yeah I made that mistake a few times, I wasn’t an alcoholic. Just dumb. (not a work situation! I just decided a few NYEs ago when hanging out with some old friends that I could mix different types of alcohol and do shots like I could ten years ago. Spoiler alert: NOPE)

          7. Specialk9*

            Jaguar, someone 2 years out of a heavy drinking frat system who still acts like that absolutely deserves a wakeup call like Snark’s.

            And saying, hey, that’s not normal drinking, that’s alcoholic kind of drinking is actually very useful resetting of the frame. I have spent enough time in the frat world to know that perfection of normal drinking gets way skewed.

            1. Green*

              I think y’all need to go into a college town on the night of homecoming, basically any football or basketball game. You’ll find plenty of recent alums (and alums on through age 60) drinking, and some overindulging a bit.

              His drinking habits are not OP’s (or anyone on this thread’s problems to solve). It’s how this one-time event (we don’t know that he makes a habit of this) negatively impacted his company and his colleagues.

            2. Yvette*

              I am really not calling you out on your spelling/typo, I knew exactly what you meant, but in this instance it is funny “I have spent enough time in the frat world to know that perfection of normal drinking gets way skewed.” “PERFECTION” of normal drinking??? For a frat boy?? Sorry that is just too funny.

            3. EchoChamber*

              We don’t know that his drinking is regularly excessive and impacting his work. Yes, this situation is regrettable, but he was also a recent alum excited to be back at his old stomping grounds. It’s not excusable, but he’s likely only 23 so it’s not that surprising either. I imagine he learned something from this, regardless of whether OP alerts HR.

          8. Squirrel Tooth Alice*

            There’s no indication Ted’s an outright alcoholic. All we know for sure is that he drank way too much on this occasion and used poor judgment.

          9. JessaB*

            It’s not the drinking. He shouldn’t have, but he did. It’s the poor behaviour in the interviews and the driving part. Also taking too much Dramamine will make you sleepy. So he’s hung over and sleepy. If it wasn’t Dramamine, if it was Bonine (which is mecclizine,) he’d be less sleepy but still reeling from being drunk the night before. I’ve known and worked and lived with plenty of alcoholics (I’m the child of one,) and it’s not the partying. It’s the behaviour after. Either an alcoholic needs to be as functional as humanly possible, or they need to be in rehab. But if they want to keep a job especially one that puts them out as the public face of their job, this isn’t the way to do it.

            And I have a feeling the OP didn’t realise how much of the car sickness medication was gone until he had the keys and was driving. Because the OP isn’t the sort that would have let him drive if they knew he was that medicated with something that can cause drowsiness.

        3. Kindling*

          It’s possible that Ted is in fact an alcoholic, which I’d be sympathetic to, but that doesn’t excuse any of the stuff around the driving. And the use of the r-word, ugh.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            It seems far more likely that Ted is immature and thought it was super cool to relive his glory frat days.

      2. K.*

        100%. Think about the impression Ted made to the interviewees and the school! I’m sure the OP and Jane handled themselves professionally, but think of it from the candidates’ and school’s side: OP’s company sent a lush to the school who ignored the candidates (and likely creeped them out) because he was such a mess. The company has some relationship-repairing to do because of Ted.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I was just thinking about that – if I’d been a candidate at one of those interviews, I’d be judging the shit out of that company for having a guy who was obviously hungover and not at all capable of coping with the situation in the interviews. And if I’d been with the college career center (or whoever arranged the event) I’d be reaching out to the company to let them know about the issue and discuss their future participation. Ted not only endangered his colleagues on the road, he damaged the company’s reputation and relationship with the college and the candidates.

          1. Natalie*

            Good point. It’s pretty hard to hide, in my experience – every super hungover person I’ve been around has absolutely reeked of stale [whatever they were drinking] no matter how much personal grooming they’ve done.

            1. Plague of frogs*

              I think Ted must have been straight-up still drunk during the interviews, based on the fact that he didn’t notice his repeatedly ringing phone (which he probably would have *really* noticed if he were hungover).

              Either way, incredibly immature, and it would turn me off from wanting to work for his company. The interview process goes both ways, and the company really didn’t put their best foot forward thanks to this tool.

              1. Annabelle*

                Yeah, I think so too. Judging by the timeline the LW presents, I’m guessing he was still somewhat drunk until the we’re getting ready to leave.

      3. Former Hoosier*

        There are a lot of workplaces where this would be a fireable offense which I understand is not the OP’s goal, but this is not acceptable behavior. And yes, the driving would have upset me the most.

    2. neverjaunty*

      And if you are feeling hesitant at all, OP, consider that Ted make your employer look bad, put your employer at legal risk via his driving (he was worried about sports bets? wtf?!), and last but hardly least, put you and Jane in physical danger.

      Ted should be fired, but at a minimum you should not have to put up with his presence on these trips. Ever.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Yes. If it had just been ‘he was hungover but he pasted on a smile and powered through the interviews’, okay, that was stupid but he did his job anyway, lesson learned. But it’s pretty obviously just part of his membership in Bad Decision Clan.

            1. Lynca*

              He’s lucky they didn’t when he drove in the shoulder/emergency lane. That is where they typically move accidents to and he could have easily hit someone working the accident.

          1. JessaB*

            Even if he was hung over and begged off ill, it would have been better than the face he put on the company the way he acted.

      1. Green*

        Well, there’s a good chance if he blacked out at 3 a.m., he was still over the legal limit while driving in the afternoon…

        1. Alli525*

          Probably not after 1 or 2 meals, PLUS puking up whatever else was left in his stomach in the afternoon. And men process alcohol more quickly than women do. If he was hungover, that generally means that most of the alcohol has left your system (I once watched my best friend shift very visibly from blackout to hungover and it was not pretty).

          1. fposte*

            If he genuinely couldn’t remember going back to the hotel, he was probably around .20 BAC. It takes about an hour to process .015 BAC, so it would take over 13 hours to process a .20 to full sobriety. Stomach contents wouldn’t matter so long after ingestion–the alcohol would have been absorbed from the digestive system hours ago.

            I don’t think the OP says when they left or even for sure that it was afternoon, but if he stayed out past midnight and they left earlier than late afternoon, it’s quite possible he still was somewhat under the influence.

            1. Wintermute*

              He’d be within legal limits within eight or nine hours though so he probably wasn’t LEGALLY drunk but he was certainly impaired. Any amount of residual alcohol plus motion sickness medication is likely to have him acting impaired.

          2. LavaLamp*

            Am I the only one who would also be demanding the jerk pay me back for the motion sick medicine he stole? Yes stole, he just took them from the OP and didn’t ask. Stealing does have consequences in most companies as well. Plus where did he have to go to get them? Where they in the LW’s purse or backpack? That’s like the cherry on top of this crap Sunday.

            1. Former Hoosier*

              Yes. That is a huge violation of personal privacy. I almost forgot about this in the middle of everything else that he did. I would ask for reimbursement even if the amount was less than $10. He stole from a co worker and it isn’t acceptable even if she would have given him the same amount if he had asked.

            2. Specialk9*

              Meh that’s pretty minor out of his other infractions. He was offered motion sickness meds from her supply, and took more than she expected. It’s thoughtless because she was helping him and then didn’t get to use her own meds for her own motion sickness. But it’s really not stealing.

              1. Specialk9*

                I just doubted my memory, but yeah, OP offered him motion sickness meds while she was driving, implying that he was given explicit permission to locate them and retrieve them. It was the amount that was unacceptable.

                1. Jennifer Thneed*

                  ” I offered him a motion sickness tablet ”

                  We don’t know if she mentioned it or handed it directly to him, so we don’t know about implicit permission. But she said “a” to us, and probably to him. Taking all the tablets is a pretty jerk move.

            3. Green*

              She offered. Ted took too many. He could have reasonably assumed she meant for him to take what he needed (or thought he needed). While inconsiderate of Ted to polish them off, pursuing that would make the OP look kind of weird and distract from the real issues. If I offered gum around my car and someone took 3 pieces, that’s weird but not stealing.

              1. Jennifer Thneed*

                Setting aside the fact that finishing anything of someone else’s is really uncool, chewing gum isn’t a medicine.

                1. Green*

                  OK, but Ibuprofen and Advil are over the counter medications. It still isn’t theft if you have five left, you offer some to a friend for a headache, and they take them all.

                2. Jennifer Thneed*

                  @Green — I never said anything about theft. I did say that Ted made a “jerk move”. I would say the same about the gum.

                  You just don’t finish something of someone else’s without letting them know. (Even if it’s their travel pack and they have more at home. Because they’re counting on it being there when they need it.) That’s true for the milk in their fridge or the gum in their pack.

            4. Klew*

              I was wondering about the motion sickness medicine. OP didn’t mention if these were the non-drowsy kind or not. If they were, and he took more than one, that makes everything even worse…if that’s possible.

              1. JessaB*

                Yeh, even the less drowsy one can make someone not used to taking it drowsy. Also add it to the effect of the booze? that’s not a good mixture for driving.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      I think including Jane in the conversation is key here.

      Not that the OP should need corroboration, but two people telling BroDude’s manager what went on will carry much more weight.

      1. myswtghst*

        Agreed. If nothing else, it’s a good idea to give Jane a heads up, just in case HR or Ted’s manager want corroboration and reach out to her, so it isn’t a surprise.

        1. Geoffrey B*

          Also, it’s possible that Jane has concerns about Ted but isn’t sure whether the OP will back her. In that case, it’d be a kindness for OP to give her that reassurance.

      2. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I’d be shocked if Jane hadn’t already reported this to Ted’s manager. She’s a recruiter and he just made the company look *really* bad to potential candidates. Honestly, if I were her I might have told Ted to sit out the rest of the interviews after it was clear from the first one that he was hung over. I’d also expect that the school wasn’t too happy about it either.

    4. Wintermute*

      If they didn’t summarily terminate him for this behavior I would have a long hard think about what that means as far as management of the place goes. That’s when you start wondering how much toxic behavior you’d have to put up with before someone DOES get fired.

      Obviously it’s easy to say “if they don’t do this quit” and reality is quite a bit more complicated, but just like people companies don’t show their true character all the time, they show it in a few exceptional moments when the chips are down. And when a coworker is driving impaired careening down the highway after a highly unprofessional showing at a work event– great holy guacamole what WOULD it take for them to call it “serious”?

  5. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’m assuming you were in a company car. You definitely need to report Ted’s unsafe driving ASAP. I would also talk to Jane and let her know that you plan to report it. It’s possible she already has, but you don’t want her to be caught off guard if she gets questions.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Hopefully Jane has already reported what she’s seen, but only the LW knows what he did in their interviews since Jane interviewed candidates separately. So, yes, speak to his manager and check with Jane that she has reported the issues as well. If she hasn’t already reported it encourage her to as well.

    2. Aurion*

      I read “25” and was like…damn. Then I realized it was 25 miles per hour, not kilometres.


      Ted should absolutely get disciplined for his appalling behaviour. None of this is okay.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Also, texting and driving is illegal in a lot of states, not to mention stupid. So what he did may also be against the law.

        Of course, driving over the speed limit is against the law too….

        1. neverjaunty*

          And if Ted had gotten into an accident, it would have created a huge liability for the company – not just for Ted personally.

        2. Aurion*

          Oh, I know. Around my area, first time offense at distracted driving has a fine of $500+ and penalty points to your driver’s license. It’s a big deal. The fact that Ted managed to do all these offenses without getting pulled over is frankly a bit of a miracle in and of itself (especially as he started driving on the shoulder in front of police).

    3. PersephoneUnderground*

      Company car or not, he was behaving really badly in front of and towards two colleagues. If it were his own car this still wouldn’t be ok. Not to argue with you, just to clarify to OP- no situation in which this would have been OK outside of ludicrously weird action-movie scenarios.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Of course not. I didn’t mean to imply that in any way. My point was that because it *was* presumably company property that he was reckless with, the LW has more of a responsibility to speak up.

    4. Liz*

      In addition, if he drank that much the night before he was probably still over the limit. So DUI + distracted driving, both dangerous and both which would leave the company liable. (Not to mention the terrible impression he would have made on the candidates, not at all how you want your company represented.)

  6. blackcat*

    That level of bad driving is really, really scary! It’s okay to be very firm. I have threatened to call the cops on a friend who was driving like this before because it was so dangerous. My friend was really pissed, but did slow down. And my other friends in the car later expressed how grateful they were that I was super firm. (I did first ask him to slow down. Then I said what he was doing was unsafe. Then the nearly side swiped someone and I said “That’s it, if you don’t slow down right this second, I’m calling the cops and having them pull you over for reckless driving.”)

    1. Snark*

      Seconded. Don’t be afraid to be the bitch/asshole, OP. Ted will not be your greatest fan if you do this, but you MUST do this. I’ve actually called the cops on people I was riding with. Do not gamble on your own safety to protect a fragile ego.

      1. ContentWrangler*

        Third! No one has the right to endanger your safety like that OP. Obviously this Ted guy sounds kind of volatile so I understand why you may have felt uncomfortable but that kind of situation calls for no compromise. He shouldn’t drive like that and you can’t let him drive like that with you in the car.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Think of it this way, OP: your life is more valuable than Ted’s pride. Full stop, no question about it. He’ll get over a ticket. You wouldn’t get over being killed in a wreck. Frame it in those terms to yourself if you find yourself hesitating to act.

    2. Lynca*

      I have never had to threaten to call the cops but I have made co-workers pull over so I could drive. We have a highly visible work vehicle. I’ve had people drive erratically, try to text and drive, even not want to wear their seat belt, etc. Things we specifically have training for when you start! I also have reported them to their supervisors on this because driving is a huge part of our work. Something we can get fired for if there are too many incidents. If they’ll do this in the work car with people, then they aren’t driving safely solo.

      I thankfully don’t have a problem being pushy and demanding about this. I’ve gotten evil eyes but I’d much rather get to my destination alive.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        On seat belts- it helps to know that the driver will get a ticket if anyone in the car isn’t belted, so if you’re driving you can always cite that as an “outside/not-your-fault” reason your passengers have to buckle up. I was taught this specifically in school so I could feel free to tell friends they had to buckle up in my car, period, because I wasn’t getting a ticket or ding on my record for them.

        1. Lynca*

          Exactly. I’ve always pointed out that it’s the law, we can get fired over this, etc. For the most part they grumble and comply.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            My car doesn’t even turn on if belts aren’t in place. I don’t mean that it’s got an automatic feature, I mean that it has a very stern driver.

            I’ve also had passengers who open the door before I’m actually done driving. As in, while I’m still moving the car around to park it. They get an earful, let me tell you.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              My partner’s parents have tried to open the door when I wasn’t quite done driving and they got a very loud “I’M. NOT. DONE.”

              I’m usually very polite to them. They were startled and appropriately chastised.

              I also once made my roommate walk home because she wouldn’t put on her seatbelt. I told her that she might not care if she ended up a road smear and honestly if she didn’t care I didn’t, but I didn’t want to have to call her mother and be like, “Yeah, Roommate is dead because she’s a stubborn idiot and wouldn’t put on her seatbelt, sorry. Rest of us are cool tho.”

      2. myswtghst*

        That’s awesome that your work incorporates safety training! I think it does empower people to report issues, because they have been explicitly told “xyz behavior is unacceptable” and don’t have to question whether they’ll be perceived as overly sensitive.

    3. Natalie*

      Yep, I’ve taken phones out of two people’s hands. Now, in both cases they were actually drifting over lane lines so I was pushed to act by my own fear + anger. I understand the OP freezing up in the moment.

  7. Amber Rose*

    It’s awkward to talk to people about their driving. I have done it enough with taxi drivers that I don’t feel so weird about it anymore. Like most confrontations, it gets easier with practice, although here’s hoping you don’t have to practice that particular conversation. *knock on wood* But please do if it comes up again. You have the right and responsibility to not put your safety in danger just to pacify some jerk’s ego. It’s always 100% OK to say, “No, this isn’t fine. Cut it out.”

    And definitely talk to someone about this. Here’s a dude who desperately needs coaching before he becomes the kind of manager we see in letters sometimes, who drink heavily and embarrass everyone but have too much power to shut down as easily.

  8. SnowyCold*

    Hang on – motion sickness pills, like Gravol, also usually make you sleepy, no? How in the hell did he finish the pack and was still awake enough to drive?!

    Oh, that sounds awful. Please report him – that’s unacceptable behaviour, full stop.

    1. Etak*

      Thats what I thought too! I usually take dramamine for any car ride longer than 2 hours and it totally knocks me out at best or leaves me extremely foggy and out of it but awake at worst. So he’s hungover (possible still with alcohol in his system) and on motion sickness medication???

    2. The IT Manager*

      I take Bonine which doesn’t make you sleepy. Hopefully that’s the kind of meds Ted and the LW took.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        YMMV, I take meclizine (which Bonine is a brand name for) for motion sickness and while it doesn’t make me as drowsy as older-school motion sickness meds (dammit gravol) it does make me a little woozy and odd. My mom was prescriped meclizine daily for long-term vertigo and nausea and had to switch to something else because it made her too drowsy to function.

        It might not have been a huge deal but taking more than the recommended dose of motion sickness meds while sleep-deprived and badly hung over was probably not super helpful as far as impaired driving goes.

        1. Ramblin' Ma'am*

          Yeah, I take Bonine or the “less drowsy” Dramamine and while it doesn’t instantly knock me out, it still has sleepiness as a side effect. If I take it before a long bus/car ride, I’ll definitely be napping.

    3. Editrix*

      I had the same thought. One can definitely be considered to be driving “under the influence” even if it’s not specifically alcohol, and it sounds like he was certainly impaired.

    4. Cyberwulf*

      He shouldn’t have been driving at all if he was drinking the night before. He would have failed a breath test.

      1. fposte*

        Alcohol would probably have been detected on his breath–it can be for about 24 hours, apparently–but that wouldn’t mean he’d fail a breath test. Whether he was over the limit or not would depend on how high his blood alcohol got and when he stopped drinking.

        However, I suspect the company would have “failed” him at a lot lower level than the law.

        1. MsSolo*

          This was my thought. If he was black out drunk, there’s a good chance his blood alcohol level remained high enough the next day that he shouldn’t have been driving. In the UK, the rough calculation is an hour per unit, so allow one hour for a single shot, two for a lager, three for a large glass of red wine. I’ve never been blackout drunk, but based on what I have managed to get through and muddled through a work day after I wouldn’t have been good to drive until the next evening at the very earliest. (I mean, I don’t have a license or know how to drive a car, which are bigger factors, but regardless!)

          1. Wintermute*

            in those terms it would take an average-weight man about 12 units to reach blackout stage, if consumed over the course of four hours, as 20 units would be enough to risk death. so because he did black out but didn’t die we can probably assume 15 units of alcohol or so. in the US the legal limit is .08 (we use mass fraction not mg/Dl like they do in the UK), which takes 7 units of alcohol to reach (over those same 4 hours). You actually burn about .015 which is closer to 1.5 units of alcohol for an average american male, females burn closer to 1, and men that weigh less will burn less, and men with a lot of muscle will burn more, plus levels of liver enzyme ADH vary greatly based on race and ethnicity as well as random chance.

            So the end result is he would have been legal to drive, albeit barely, after eight hours, and it sounds like they had a full day of interviews and then the LW drove for a while, meaning he was undoubtedly not over the legal BAC concentration.

            However combining trace amounts of alcohol, the metabolic byproducts of alcohol (I.E “having a hangover”) and motion sickness medication… and there was no way he was a safe driver.

    5. Sled Dog Mama*

      Much like any other medication different people can experience different side effects. (I’ve never used motion sickness medication) Most people get drowsy from taking Benadryl (diphenhydramine) but I have the opposite reaction.

      Regardless it is irresponsible of Ted to take any medication and drive (especially more than a recommended dose) without knowing how he would be affected.

    6. kittymommy*

      So glad I’m not the only one who thought this. Of course medications can affect people differently, but generaly motion sickness meds do make people sleepy (I believe they have a warning on them?). Seems to have made him more hyped up!

    7. SanDiegoSmith82*

      I was wondering that too- All types of motion sickness pills make me drowsy- and the patch is the worst- Dizzy AND Drowsy (and actually nauseated if I do anything but sit perfectly still- which is why I never understand why the doctors gave it to me)- so how he was able to drive at all is beyond me.

      OP- Thank your lucky stars/Praise the Lord/whatever/whoever you choose that you made it out of this one. My husband’s driving scared me that bad once. He was driving/racing/acting like a complete idiot when him and some friends were trying to start a car club- I was terrified the entire time (a 2 hour trip), and told him if he ever did that to me again- He’d be paying for the 2 hour cab ride home out of the fund for additional car parts. Thankfully- he realized what an idiot he was when he hung out with those people (and how bad of an influence they were) and stopped before it ever happened again.

    8. Boots*

      Anecdote about this: I have opposite effect with medications quite often. So, I take DayQuil to get to sleep, Benedryl gives me heart palpitations and sweating, etc. I would not be surprised if motion sickness pills that usually make people drowsy would turn me into a fidgeting squirrel.

    9. Cherith Ponsonby*

      They might have been ginger tablets – I don’t know if those are common in the US but they’re readily available in Australia. (This could also explain why he took more than the recommended dose.)

    10. Candi*

      I bet I know why he took so many. (Or at least can make an educated guess.)

      Most oral medications in pill form take time to dissolve in the stomach and have an effect on the issue in question. Chewable Pepto-Bismol tablets would take about 15 minutes to kick in for me, for example, before I was prescribed omeprazole. (Liquid medicines are not as portable.)

      So Ted, his judgement impaired to apparently a fairly significant extent, didn’t feel the motion sickness medicine working as quickly as he thought it should. Particularly since excessive consumption of alcohol can mess with your perceptions, including that of time.

      So he took more. Then more.

      Bloody lucky LW didn’t have enough for him to overdose.

  9. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I completely agree with Alison– the driving is the worst part of this and I would absolutely focus on that with his manager. Not that I wouldn’t mention the drinking stuff, but the driving put you and Jane in danger and he disregarded your concern. That, to me, is a much bigger deal.

    But please, do talk to his manager. This is not a good way to behave on a business trip. I’ve been sick on business trips, sometimes with terrible headaches that diminish my capacity, and I’ve been with people who have woken up sick in business hotels. I sympathize with them and I hope they sympathize with me. I do not sympathize with someone whose behavior directly impacts our work. A couple of drinks can be fine for most people. Going out to party to the point of blacking out? That’s on him.

    1. 5 Leaf Clover*

      I agree 100%, especially with your highlighting that he disregarded the LW’s concern. That part is the most egregious to me and I would not drive with this person again under any circumstances.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      Another reason to talk to his manager? If they hear feedback about his behavior from anyone else, and not you, it may make it look like you’re trying to cover for him, which you do NOT want.

    3. CM*

      To me, the driving is terrible because it’s so egregious and shows a disregard for law and safety, but the crappy interviewing is equally bad from a business point of view — that was the whole reason Ted went on the trip! Not only did he blow it off, he probably made a terrible impression on the people the company was trying to recruit.

      OP, sorry you had to go through this, and absolutely tell someone! I would tell Jane first about what happened, and say that you’re planning to escalate this. She might be able to back you up or also be wondering what to do on her own.

  10. London Bookworm*

    What a stressful situation. You should absolutely share this information. The driving, in particular, is completely unacceptable.

    Ted doesn’t seem to realize how egregious his behaviour was. You would be doing him a favour long-term if you let his manager know so that they can share it with him.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Yes, Ted definitely needs a a lesson in professional norms, and it’ll help your company come across better in the future if he’s not involved in recruiting or learns how to behave appropriately during recruiting.Please talk to his manager!

    2. SarahKay*

      Seconded. Please, please, report Ted to his manager.
      I was reading your letter with increasing horror, and that was *before* you got to the awfulness of his driving. I don’t know enough about driving laws in the US (and even more so for your State in particular) but in the UK his driving would have broken so many laws…speeding, using a mobile phone (not on bluetooth) while driving; just WOW!! And not Wow in a good way.

      All that said, I absolutely sympathise with you not speaking up at the time – I recall being driven by my younger sister, who I have no qualms about arguing with (given that we’ve spend most of our lives squabbling on and off) and didn’t speak up to tell her that I wasn’t happy with the way she was speeding. Afterwards I was kicking myself for not saying something, but at the time I seemed rude, it’s her car, I just didn’t like to.
      It’s very easy afterwards to think about what you could or should have said and done – and that can be useful as preparation if it happens again – but at the time it’s happening it’s very easy for your brain to freeze at the sheer awkwardness of it.

  11. The Inconstant Gardener*

    I don’t know what the permitted blood alcohol limit is for your area, but it’s also possible that he would still have been over the limit during the afternoon if he had been blackout drunk the night before. I don’t think I’d want to be in a vehicle with him whatever his state, though.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It’s so hard in the moment, though, when someone is behaving so far out of bounds. I think OP did the best they could in the moment, but I agree that it’s helpful for them to know if they’re ever in a situation like this in the future, it’s ok to stand firm on safety (even if it escalates the tension with the hungover coworker).

        1. Snark*

          I meant more when they switched drivers. “Nah Ted, I got this, you’re feeling unwell, just lay back and bet on fantasy football or whatever.”

          1. Specialk9*

            Most of us don’t realize how heavily we rely on situations like ones we have faced before, for which we have scripts. It’s why many of us read AAM, to imagine ourselves in different situations and get a good script. (And the gossip, I’ll own up to loving the juicy stories about strangers.) So it’s helpful to pause and say to ourselves and the OP, ok, for this situation here’s a way to handle it, for us to mentally mark for next time. It’s interesting that several of the people in the comments who have felt comfortable speaking up the first time had had explicit training on the topic. Not a coincidence.

        2. fposte*

          Yes, I would really prefer that people not go down the “I would have” road; it’s unpleasant to be on the receiving end of, and there are other ways to talk about the OP’s right to intervene.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Agree. I don’t know if you ever spent time around The Consumerist back before CU took it over, but they had to add explicit ‘don’t armchair quarterback’ language to their comments policy, because every single post was a mad stampede by people to chide the OP for how the thing they did was objectively wrong and dumb, and how they, the commenter, would never have done it that way.

                1. Natalie*

                  Hey, Consumerist! I did used to hang out there a bunch, although it might have been before that rule. Learned a lot from that blog.

                  Ah, internet memories.

          1. Snark*

            Totally valid point, and well taken. That was meant more in the spirit of a “in this kind of situation, you can totally refuse to let someone take the wheel” rather than “I’d have made a much better decision than you did,” but I understand the phrasing is a problem and I’ll try to avoid it moving forward.

            1. SarahKay*

              This was one of the earlier comments from you I saw, and I thought then how impressed I was that you very gracefully accepted the criticism, which is one of the reasons you are one of my favourite commentators (your generally amazing turn of phrase being the other main reason).
              Having read most of the rest of the thread (350-ish comments at time of writing), I’m still impressed, and having seen the heat you’ve taken in it today I thought maybe I should jolly well go back and actually tell you so.

              1. Snark*

                Why thank you! I don’t think I’m always great at receiving criticism, particularly when it’s delivered with less grace than fposte uses when she criticizes me, but it’s something I’m working to improve and it’s nice to get the feedback.

                1. Specialk9*

                  Fposte has such a kind way of delivering gentle critique, I’m often like, oh hey, that’s how I should be.

          1. neverjaunty*

            The OP may not have understood that, given that Ted started driving and only then had to pull over, and given that the OP thought a motion sickness pill would help the problem. And Ted insisted on driving in the first place, apparently, rather than hand off the wheel. So perhaps spare OP the dudely lecture about how you totally would have given Ted what-for and taken command of the situation?

            1. serenity*

              Do we have to get snippy with each other? We shouldn’t lecture an OP, ever, but it didn’t seem like Snark was doing that.

            2. Snark*

              Actually, the throwing up happened before he took the wheel, so there was an opportunity there. I totally understand how, in the moment, OP may have felt paralyzed or without choices, as I’ve been there myself, particularly when I was younger. I have personally benefited from postmortem discussions of how and where I could have made different decisions in those situations, so I think it’s a valid line of discussion. You may disagree, but I do hope you’ll do so constructively.

              And on that note, maybe spare ME the lecture, eh? I’m just about done with having my opinion invalidated in these little chats because I happen to be a male.

              1. Natalie*

                I don’t think there’s any problem with a postmortem discussion generally, but as discussed upthread these discussions can really quickly feel like a guilt ridden pile on. It’s probably a good time to be more mindful of *how* that post mortem is framed and phrased than one might normally.

          1. The Inconstant Gardener*

            I know you can’t tell, and there were plenty of other horrifying things to worry about that took precedence, but it was just something that occurred to me that could have got them into further trouble if the police had pulled them over (it reminded me of the week I spent cheerfully over the limit at university once, back when I could do that sort of thing and live. I didn’t drive obvs.)

            1. The Inconstant Gardener*

              Just to be extra extra clear, it was meant as something that you might want to consider should you find yourself in this situation ever again, which I hope to whatever deity you choose you never ever do again.

              I know I wouldn’t have spoken up in my younger years and I’m still not always confident to do so now but I have come to the realisation that it’s ok for the awkward to be returned to the person causing it.

    1. Emi.*

      Yeah, I was just coming here to say this. It’s wildly unsafe (and presumably a terrible liability mess for the company).

    2. fposte*

      I’m wondering if that (or the massive amount of anti-nausea medication) made a change from how he drove on the way out. I know the OP says that she and Jane did most of the driving, but that suggests that Ted did some of it, and apparently was able to obey traffic laws at that point.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Given the massive amount of bad judgment he showed beforehand, I’m personally OK with chalking all of this up to Ted.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, no argument. I’m just vaguely curious if whatever brief bit of driving he did on the way out was completely different.

        2. Oranges*

          Ditto. Although part of me wonders because I want to know exactly how much is Ted and how much is medication or situational Ted-ness (eg he wasn’t speeding when he drove before but that was because he didn’t feel like he was “late”).

      2. Kelly L.*

        I really think it was the Dramamine impairing his driving on the drive home. I doubt he was still drunk by then–but Dramamine is basically Benadryl. He was trying to drive on a whole handful of Benadryl. I have no idea how he could even keep his eyes open.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Depends on how much he drank, really. You would be surprised by how long alcohol can stay in your system. But yeah, the motion sickness meds probably didn’t help in any case.

        2. Samata*

          Yea, but it could have been bonine. or he could be like me and be able to take double the recommended dose of Benadryl and still not be able to get to sleep – it affects everyone different. Since he was so worried about his sports bets I am just guessing he hasn’t quite hit his professional peak yet & is still clinging on a bit to his younger days.

        3. Oranges*

          Oh, and alcohol and certain anti-histamine medications have insane interactions. I can still remember my mom flipping out in the car and scaring me to death. This was 100% not normal behavior for her though. I’m leaning towards Ted is just an entitled idiot based upon his other choices though.

  12. Turboencabulator Engineer*

    I’ve seen this a couple times with recruiting events. Okay, not quite like THIS, but people who treat like the recruiting event as an opportunity to go hang out at their alma mater or explore a fun city, rather than a business trip where the focus is expected to be their job. All too often people sign up just so they can take advantage of the flexibility of travel dates (flying in a few days early as long as it’s cheaper.)

    1. Frozen Ginger*

      Honestly, with how strictly some colleges take recruiting, I wouldn’t be surprised if the school barred OP’s company from coming back.

      1. Turboencabulator Engineer*

        Doubtful. It sounds like this is a large company and it’s unlikely that students are going to complain about the fact that one of their interviewers was acting weird. They wouldn’t have known about everything else OP’s coworker did.

  13. nep*

    Ted needs to grow the hell up. And that is Ted’s problem and shouldn’t be LW’s or the company’s.
    So sorry you had to go through this, LW. HR and managers need to know everything that occurred.

  14. MuseumChick*

    Holy Moly Gaucamole. Do talk to his manager. This is a perfect “You are not the one making things awkward, the person behaving badly is creating the awkward.” situation.

    Also I want to bold and underline what Alison said about being in the car with someone driving unsafely. He could have killed y’all. Speak up loudly if you ever find yourself in that kind of situation again.

  15. Justme, The OG*

    You have two issues here. One was his unprofessional conduct prior to and during the interviews. Going to a bar the night before an interview isn’t necessarily bad, but getting drunk enough to not remember coming home then treating interviewees as he did is appalling. It looks poorly on your organization.

    Then there’s the wholly illegal dangerous driving that put the lives of others at risk. That needs to be addressed by your company ASAP.

    1. RVA Cat*

      Ted is a walking lawsuit.
      Imagine if he’d wrecked the car and injured or killed the OP, Jane and people in the other vehicle(s)?
      Also, if he was so drunk he didn’t remember coming back to the hotel that night, he doesn’t remember other things he may have done that night. What if he assaulted someone?

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, while he clearly did not have the “low key” night he promised and his behavior the next day is horrible, if he had *actually* had a low key night at a bar and not gotten completely wasted then there wouldn’t be anything wrong with candidates running into him there. When I was in grad school, the recruiting companies had events the night before interviews with the specific intention of candidates and interviewers socializing and these events were often held at bars.

      But obviously every other piece of behavior deserves to be addressed!

      1. tigerlily*

        I was thinking this too at the beginning of the letter. I didn’t see any problem with him going out and connecting with his fraternity. I wasn’t personally involved in Greek life myself, but knew plenty of people who were and many were perfectly capable of a low key night out. And I agree about the socializing and networking part of these recruitment event.

        All that being said, that is very sadly and clearly NOT what happened and Ted put OP in a terrible situation and I feel for her. What a crappy thing to have to deal with. I have nothing to say on what she should have done in the moment – I know when I’m in crazy situations like that, I do not always (or even often) act in the most sensible ways – but I do think this is egregious enough that OP should mention this to Ted’s boss.

      2. Brisvegan*

        I might be missing something, since my country doesn’t have fraternities but I would have been concerned about a recruiter very visibly (in one of only 2 bars in town!) partying with a single social group like a fraternity. I would look askance at people from my organisation choosing to heavily favour/party to drunkenness with one student club over another, if they were hiring. (The closest analogy here would be a campus football club, political club or other gender/class oriented social club, so I might be missing something.)

        Could this signal to people in that town that OP’s company or its employees will favour that frat? Could the frat members have that impression? More scarily, could bad actors in the frat now think they had dirt on Ted that will act as leverage? Does it signal that men of a certain social group will be heavily favoured over women/people of other class backgrounds/people not of the dominant racial group of the frat/people who don’t condone certain “laddish” bad behaviour (frat not sorority, reputation of bad behaviour by frats etc)? When Ted was disengaged the next day, will non-frat people get the impression that Ted/OP’s company are going through the motions, but will only hire Ted’s frat party buddies? If anyone from that frat was hired, will it reinforce that idea? Would you then have to ignore good frat candidates to avoid this perception?

        As I mentioned, I might be completely missing cultural issues, but it just seems like a really bad idea to very visibly favour one group in public the day before interviewing. None of the three interviewers socialised with any other student group or at any more general networking event. Even if it doesn’t contravene standards for legal discrimination (I assume it doesn’t), the frat-only socialising could give OP’s company a bad image as a company that favours frat boys from a particular frat, may disregard female candidates or expect them to tolerate frat-boy style bad behavious and that it does not take recruiting seriously at all. It could also give an impression that your company expects/tolerates or condones laddishness and/or hard partying in a way that may alienate good candidates or the college’s staff.

        1. Brisvegan*

          *behaviour not behavious! Sheesh.

          Please note, I don’t think OP or Jane should have socialised more, only the Ted showed very poor judgement in creating a possible perception around his/his company’s potential favouritism of this frat.

          1. Flower*

            As a recent graduate (May 2017): My undergrad did not have Greek life and personally I tend to put up an extra layer of skepticism/mistrust of people who are or were involved in Greek life (if they graduated up to at max 3 years ago) – a habit I’m trying to break, because it’s obviously unfair to many wonderful people.

            That said, I wouldn’t necessarily assume any of those things in this situation. Many frats are co-ed (we don’t know if this one is), many are not social frats but service or academic frats (I do get the impression this one was a social frat), and some social frats are perfectly reasonable. Even if I had, as another candidate, seen the interviewer at a bar with his old frat brothers/buddies, I probably would’ve assumed he was just catching up with old friends and not thought much of it (exception: if that particular frat had a bad reputation). I know frat members tend to like to hire out of their Greek organization, but I really don’t think I would have assumed it would influence his hiring *that* much, especially since he clearly wasn’t the only one making decisions in this context. I would have thought of him as a connection to the university, thought he was catching up with friends, and that’s it. Had I seen him getting as drunk as he evidently was later in the night, I might have had some concerns about him being a more fratty-frat boy than I was comfortable with (but in college I was almost always was asleep by 11, so I definitely wouldn’t have seen it). As a candidate I would have been more disheartened/annoyed/upset by his dismissive, uncaring behavior in the interviews.

  16. Sara*

    I can understand going to your alma matter and wanting to spend time with people you might have known there – if my math is correct, he graduated only two years ago? So that lapse of judgement I can kind of understand. But my god, he just compounded problem upon problem. Did he forget it was a work trip and not a reunion trip?? That’s some serious lack of judgement and priorities that I think needs to be escalated immediately. I wouldn’t want new hires to think that was acceptable.

    1. London Bookworm*

      I agree. Frankly, I think a lot of people have shown up to work more hungover than was appropriate — but where his lack of judgement really shines is that he doesn’t sound like he was self-aware or apologetic about it at all. I would expect someone in his situation to be mortified, and it would seriously concern me that they weren’t.

      And the driving is just flat-out unsafe.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        Also, showing up to work hungover, sure most people do that at some point. When you can slink to your desk and perform your functions without public interaction, it’s not such a big deal. But when he was interviewing? Representing his company? I agree that’s completely beyond the pale.

    2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I also thought for, oh, a nanosecond that it wasn’t a TERRIBLE idea to grab drinks with a few people. It could have been a networking opportunity if he had handled it responsibly. Key word here being “responsibly”.

      1. Murphy*

        Yeah, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad idea as long as you conduct yourself appropriately…which Ted was apparently not capable of.

      2. Sara*

        If what he had initially described had happened – a quiet night with some buddies from the frat – it likely wouldn’t have been a problem. But getting blackout drunk is just grossly irresponsible (as is everything that followed)

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I am astounded by Ted’s gall — he’s pretty junior and on a work trip with colleagues that are senior to him, and he has no shame in: announcing his intention to go drink the night before the actual business purpose of the trip, being visibly hungover during the interviews, stopping alongside the road to puke, admitting how wild his night got, driving like a madman, texting while driving, and then announcing that he’s actually finalizing a sports bet while texting while driving. Ted shows a real lack of maturity and a complete absence of good judgement.

      1. Specialk9*

        My suspicion is that he has somehow weathered 2 years in an office setting without realizing the frat rules are wildly out of the norm, so he doesn’t even know he should be ashamed. I can’t understand otherwise being that brazen about getting publicly hammered with undergrads on a work trip, and casually mentioning that plan to a senior colleague and HR rep.

    4. Jesmlet*

      Going to a bar with old friends is not a huge lapse of judgment IMO. The issue is how much he drank. It’s obviously never okay to get blackout drunk on a work trip. If I drink Sunday to Thursday night, I know what pace to keep and to stop after a certain point so that I’m not hungover the next day. That’s part of being a responsible adult. Add everything else on top of that and if I was his manager, I’d be watching him like a hawk for any other bad judgments.

      1. Antilles*

        Right. I don’t think it’s a lapse in judgment at all, honestly. It’s perfectly reasonable to grab a beer or two with a few friends who happen to live in the city. Shoot, I’ve been graduated for almost a decade and I still meet up with friends who still live in the city of my alma mater whenever I happen to be in town for work.
        The lapse in judgement is not realizing the HUGE difference between *a* beer with friends (totally fine) and going way over the limit like he did.

        1. essEss*

          Agreed. Unless there are work events scheduled on that night, the coworker has every right to spend his down-time any way he wants AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T IMPACT HIS WORK EVENTS. If he ran into the interviewee at the bar and gave the interviewee an impression of a slobbering drunk then that counts as impacting a work event, but if he was out having a responsible drink with buddies and ended up run across the interviewee and recognizing him the next day, then it’s not something that would be an issue.

          1. Snark*

            It sounds a bit like he was going out with members of the same frat they were recruiting from, in which case there’s too much crossing of the streams going on. I think he’d still have been on okay ground having a beer and some wings, but.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t think they were recruiting specifically from that fraternity, but certainly some fraternity members might have been applicants, so I agree that that’s an appropriateness problem in its own right.

              1. Cochrane*

                Having seen a similar situation at an old job where the employee on campus recruiting duty rubber stamped applications from her sorority while tossing most of the applications from “randoms” in the trash, this is very likely.
                I’d bet that Ted would suddenly have snapped out of his haze if one of his buddies walked into the interview room.

            2. Jesmlet*

              But these are guys he already knows since he only graduated a couple years ago right? It’s not like this is a new line he’s crossing… he’s already on the other side of it.

              1. fposte*

                You still don’t socialize with some of your applicants but not others on a recruiting trip, even if you know them from elsewhere. (If nobody from the frat was in the pool, then it’s not a problem.)

                1. Jesmlet*

                  Yeah I agree it’s inappropriate, but less so since he probably has limited input on the decision. Personally I would never send someone to recruit at their college if they were only a couple years past graduation for that exact reason.

                2. fposte*

                  @Jesmlet–Yes, I agree. My suspicion is that the OP’s employer cares less about the possible conflict than I would.

                3. Elizabeth H.*

                  It probably depends on the university (and you can’t know, nor does it make much sense to try to ascertain on a case by case basis). It would seriously never occur to me as a conflict of interest if I got sent to recruit at my alma mater a few years later because I didn’t have any close relationships with people in the class 2 years below me. And some schools are so immense that the probability you would have met an interviewee is quite low. Presumably a reasonable person could expect that an interviewer would recuse himself from the interview if he happened to know well or be friends with the interviewee, just like should happen in non-college-recruiting interviews.

                4. fposte*

                  @Elizabeth H.–good point; I was thinking of my undergrad, which is pretty small. I still think going out drinking with your undergrad frat is inadvisable on several levels, though.

                5. Jesmlet*

                  @Elizabeth H. – Yes, obviously each situation is different. I went to a school where I couldn’t walk across the quad without running into someone I knew, but I was similarly extracurricularly involved. On top of that, I just don’t see the value on sending someone so new to the workforce. My guess is they couldn’t rope someone more senior in to going, or the more senior employees had better things to do than be a face at a college career fair.

                6. Turboencabulator Engineer*

                  I think that’s going to heavily depend on the expectations of the recruiting trip. OP did make it seem like they were acting as actual interviewers and helping make decisions about hiring, which in my experience is unusual considering this is fairly new person going on an alma mater recruiting trip. However, I don’t think that’s normally the case. Usually the recent grad is there to answer questions about the company and help with general screening (e.g. the job requires a specific degree, so making sure that anyone they pass along has that degree.)

                7. Candi*

                  Maybe they hauled him along because he was being groomed for some position or other, and they wanted to see him in the field, so to speak, before actually putting anything important in his hands?

                  If so, that’s an F minus he got.

            3. tigerlily*

              Even that I don’t think is too egregious. A lot of recruiting events like this specifically have social aspects of them to encourage networking. Clearly, this isn’t what Ted ended up doing, but if the low key night he initially described had come to pass I wouldn’t have seen anything wrong with it.

    5. Blue Anne*

      Yeah, I remember my first business trip, I was about that age and met up with friends in the city we were in, and was hungover and tired the next day for the start of the main conference event. It’s not good but it’s understandable. But I was still on time and functional and got good feedback about the trip, thanks to downing a lot of advil and coffee. Blackout drunk?! NOT good.

  17. Cookienay*

    FWIW- Ted was most likely still legally intoxicated the next day and even when he was driving. Accompanied by the motion sickness tablets, he was definitely impaired. This is why his manager should be notified. Good luck, OP.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I thought of that too. I used to work with someone who got regularly black out drunk. He was often still drunk the next morning.

    2. Snark*

      Depending on your body mass and tolerance, this is not a guarantee. There’s plenty of folks who drive aggressively and distractedly stone sober. But we know he was tailgating, speeding, texting, and driving on the shoulder, while hungover. Driving aggressively and distractedly while sick and hungover enough to raise the issue all by itself, without speculating on unknowable variables like his blood alcohol level at the time.

        1. CG*

          Yeah, if he was blackout drunk late the night before, still hammered in the morning is possible. Either way, not the OP’s responsibility to determine.

        2. Specialk9*

          Oh yeah – I read the prefer of that as: he got blackout drunk, went to bed, next morning bombed the interview, threw up, took meds, then drove like a maniac.

  18. Murphy*

    I’m way more bothered by the driving than the drinking/hangover (although obviously both are inappropriate). Definitely talk to someone about both!

  19. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    So. Your company sent representatives to interview students for an entry-level position. Because he had been blackout drunk the night before this means that Ted’s first impression with these candidates was to not be engaged? AT ALL? How do you think those students felt? If I was in their shoes there is absolutely, no way I would want to work for your company. Had he not been a terrifying driver, that alone would be reason enough to address his behavior with management.

    But it doesn’t stop there. He made you feel unsafe. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t on the office property. You deserve to feel safe. And he not only put his life in peril, which is problematic on its own, but yours, Jane’s as well as other drivers on the road. There is no part of his behavior that is okay.

    1. Turkletina*

      Yeah, I know the answer focuses on the driving (with good reason!), but Ted also put himself in a position where he wasn’t able to represent the company well. Entry-level candidates can presumably get entry-level jobs at other companies in a six-hour radius — why on earth would they choose to work at the OP’s company when, for all they know, a third of the employees are disengaged to the point of rudeness? Even without the driving, Ted’s manager would need to know that Ted doesn’t seem to understand that his personal demeanor reflects on the company as a whole.

    2. myswtghst*

      I think this is a really important point. Ted’s behavior in the interviews is likely to turn off good candidates, and may also give others the impression they can get away with this behavior (showing up super hungover) at OP’s company if they go work there. Neither of those is a desirable outcome.

    3. JM60*

      I think it’s worth noting that he not only made them feel unsafe, he actually made them be unsafe.

  20. Anna Badger*

    This tip is the one useful thing I ever learned from a police talk in school: if someone is driving too fast and refusing to slow down, you say ‘I need you to slow down or I am going to be sick’.

    Nobody wants you to be sick in a car with them, even if it’s a company car!

  21. Ten*

    I have nothing to add here except thank goodness you are all okay after that driving experience. Please, please tell your manager what happened!

  22. Ask a Manager* Post author

    For the record, I’m dissatisfied with this headline, as it downplays what happened. “My coworker got black-out drunk on a business trip, messed up his work the next day, was rude to interviewees, vomited out the car on our drive, used all my medicine, placed sports bets while driving, used an offensive slur, and endangered our lives” seemed too long though.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Well, your chosen headline is 1000x times better than, “This dude suuuuuuuuuucks”. So take heart.

      1. Emi.*

        Yeah, I read it as “My coworker got drunk on a business trip, and his hangover was [pursed lips, raised eyebrows a problem the next day.”

        1. Allison*

          Right, “a problem” could mean he was, you know, THIS, or it could mean he barfed at his desk, ate a whole pizza at 10AM and fell asleep in a meeting, causing people to tsk and stuff.

          1. AKchic*

            I’m sorry(sonotsorry), but Lady Phoenix’s headline is the headline I want to see. It is the perfect summation.

      1. Snark*

        It’s like describing the detonation of Tsar Bomba as “great big boom.” It’s certainly accurate.. It’s just so incomplete.

        1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

          It’s like that photo of the parade of ducks with the caption “there are at least 10 ducks here”

    2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I keep coming back to “My coworker got blackout drunk and caused a maelstrom of suck.”

      1. Totally Minnie*

        10 points for “maelstrom of suck.” I’m going to be looking for ways to use that one in conversation.

    3. Not a Morning Person*

      But what a good summary for the OP to use in her discussion with HR and Ted’s manager!

  23. Parse*

    This whole trip sounds like a fireable offense.
    -Getting blackout drunk on a work trip? Nope.
    -Getting blackout drunk with your alma matter where people know who you are and who you work for? Nope.
    -Being visibly hungover and unprofessional during interviews? Nope.

    It just reeks of reputational risk for the company. Add in the terribly dangerous driving, and that would be it for me.

    1. Adlib*

      Yes! I agree that hopefully the seriousness and terribleness of all of this is impressed upon his manager. He needs to be fired to learn this lesson, I think. Either that, or he needs to be told this is his official last strike, and there’s no more room for lapses. It’s still early enough in his career that I think he could recover from a firing if he straightens up.

      1. WonderingHowIGotHere*

        Oh no. This is not his last strike. He hit that point during the business trip when he used his phone while driving to gamble, thus endangering the lives of every other road user, and potentially invalidating the company’s insurances among other things. In fact, I’m unfamiliar with baseball terms (not being US-based), but I’m fairly certain there are only supposed to be three strikes before you’re out, and Ted appears to have had about seven. He needs to be gone, and considering himself lucky that he doesn’t also have a criminal record (driving on the shoulder in front of the police? I can only assume they were concentrating on the original accident) to further hamper his career.

        1. nonegiven*

          I think passing on the shoulder is probably a civil offense. If he got pulled over to be ticketed, they would have noticed he was impaired in some way and that would be criminal.

          1. WonderingHowIGotHere*

            Yeah, that’s sort of what I meant. It should have been enough to draw the attention of the police, even if not proscecutable (is that a word – sorry, I’m dosed up on cold medicine so I might not be as clear as I’d like to be – good job I’m not planning on driving anywhere!)

            1. Candi*

              prosecutable. :P (I Googled it.)

              It’s three strikes, you’re out, or four balls for a walk, I believe.

              Ted had a whole game’s worth of strikes, in my opinion.

              On World’s Wildest Police Videos or some show like that, the officer mentioned that (in his area at least), accidents and other life-threatening emergencies take precedence over traffic violations. Although they are known to call in the plate when they can. Another reason for LW to talk to the boss!

  24. Mike C.*

    Always feel comfortable advocating for your own or others’ safety. It takes awareness and sometimes practice, but know that you’re in the right to do so.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      Take this to heart, OP. As Mike C. says, it takes awareness *and* practice, so don’t beat yourself up for not doing more at the time. But take this as notice that you should practice these kinds of uncomfortable conversations so in the future you don’t feel frozen and unable to do anything in the moment. Most of us have been too in shock to know how to handle a situation when, in retrospect, what we should have done seems obvious. But now you know that you won’t automatically speak up to protect yourself, and that’s good information to have. You can totally be prepared for next time if you start practicing.

      1. fposte*

        I’ll add also that it’s okay if it makes Ted unhappy. That’s not a sign you’re doing something wrong.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Strong agree on this one. This is probably me being insane, but I’ve found that practicing these scripts in simulations or on my own helps prepare me for being able to use them when a situation occurs. Without that practice, I freeze up and don’t know what to say—sometimes it literally feels like I’ve lost the ability to speak.

        So the practice approach may help OP, too, down the line, if they’re ever confronted with similarly insane behavior. It’s one of the reasons I so appreciate Alison’s scripts—they give me new ways to think about how to respond to (sometimes insane) difficult work situations.

      3. oranges & lemons*

        When someone is behaving this badly, I sometimes find it helpful to mentally recast them as a small child or errant puppy. It’s easier to take control of the situation when you’re addressing Ted-the-puppy than when you’re trying to deal with Ted-the-coworker-who-is-careening-wildly-out-of-control.

    2. The Expendable Redshirt*

      I’ve used the statement, “Please slow down, I get motion sickness easily” It’s a true statement! Also….
      “Please slow down when turning. I feel rather woozy.”
      “I get car sick easily. Could you slow down?”
      “Sudden stops and starts make me feel dizzy. Please be careful.”
      “I’m going to throw up!

      My partner is a more assertive driver than I am. When we were first dating, his driving style accidentally made me throw up. On more than one occasion. It was astounding to him just how sensitive I was to changes in motion. We’re still together fortunately!

      1. Jayne*

        A friend of mine has motion sickness that is linked to changes in motion. He could not stand (sit?) a mutual acquaintance’s driving, since it was very start and stop. My driving is smooth enough for him to tolerate, except all bets were off when I backed up.

    3. Myrin*

      Well said as always, Mike!
      OP, there’s no need to feel ashamed for not having reacted perfectly in the moment – although your letter didn’t actually read to me like you did, you seem very level-headed and down-to-earth reasonable; but some of the comments upthread might make you feel unsure in hindsight – but know that you can absolutely react forcefully in such a situation!

  25. Thursday Next*

    Alison, would it have been appropriate for the LW to ask Ted to excuse himself during the interviews? It sounds like he would have been making a horrendous impression on the candidates. I wouldn’t work for a company that sent a Ted to interview me.

    As many have said and will say, Ted’s driving was something you absolutely should call out in the moment. It’s not about professionalism, but safety—yours and others’. It’s natural to want to avoid conflict, but this is a prime example of a situation that demands you put that desire aside.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! I don’t think most people early in their careers will know they can do this or feel confident doing it, but it absolutely would have been okay for the OP to say, “Ted, you’re in no shape to be here right now, why don’t you go back to the room and let us finish up?” And if he resisted, at that point, you’d be more directive: “You’re actually hungover enough that it’s giving candidates a bad impression, so I do think you need to leave and let Jane and me finish these.”

    2. ContentWrangler*

      The OP is senior to Ted but isn’t his supervisor so I’m sure they probably didn’t think they had the authority to do that. And based on the other behavior, Ted seems like a type to throw a fit if OP had tried to do that which could have potentially been worse than just hungover silence.

      1. Jesmlet*

        Authority to tell him to leave? Probably not… but I still think it would’ve been okay for her to say, “Hey Ted, you don’t seem up to this right now. I can handle this part and you can just hang out and take a nap in the car if you want.”

        1. Us, Too*

          THIS. My company is growing quickly and if you have been here “long enough” you must be part of the recruiting efforts as the biggest way to positively impact our future growth is to get great people hired ASAP. Our number 1 instruction is this: No matter what else happens in the interview, you are representing the company and your primary goal is to ensure that you do so in a way that is a POSITIVE impression for the candidate.

          Behaving respectfully, warmly, candidly – those are all basic things that someone in Ted’s condition would be unable to do. I’d have been obligated to tell him to step aside and that I’d take care of it.

          1. Mike C.*

            Yeah, this feels like an “ask forgiveness” type situation. A reasonable manager will thank you for carefully exceeding your normal authority to protect the image of the company.

        2. myswtghst*

          Yes, this might be a good option if anything like this happens in the future. I’m still grateful to a coworker (who was junior to me) who gently let me know he could handle the next day’s session if I wanted when it became clear I had the flu while on a business trip, since I’m the type to just stick it out no matter how gross I feel.

    3. Snark*

      LW is senior and was presumably the one in charge during the trip. I’m not sure I’d have asked him to excuse himself right off, but I think they’d have been on firm ground taking him aside during a break and saying saying something like, “Ted. You’re completely checked out and you’re not even interviewing the candidates. What’s the deal, dude? I need you engaged here. Tune in. Also, turn your phone off, because whether you notice it or not, everyone else does and it’s distracting.”

  26. AllTheFiles*

    You let him drive?! I just..I… What?

    First, I would have stopped mid interview, apologized to the candidate, and asked him to silence his phone. I may have also cut straight to “it appears you aren’t feeling well, why don’t you step out and I’ll wrap this up”.

    If he wasn’t passed out when I finished that interview we would have had the talk about how inappropriate and unprofessional this is right then and there. I wouldn’t have given him any pills or pretended he wasn’t a hungover idiot. He would be in the back with a vomit bag and not touching the steering wheel.

    OP you can and should speak up when someone behaves this egregiously. You owe it to your safety, to the interviewees, and to your company to stop this mini tornado of bad choices as soon as possible. Now the company looks unprofessional, you probably lost out on good candidates, and you all could have been hurt or killed (along with others). Tell them in detail about what happened and speak up sooner in the future.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Like I said above, it would be very unusual for someone early in their career to feel confident doing those things. And it’s really common for people of all ages to be uncomfortable with this kind of confrontation. This is not her fault; it’s his.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Thank you. And it’s really tiresome to keep seeing people tell the OP “here’s what *I* would have done differently in your situation”.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Oh yes. And besides, the OP can’t do anything about that now. We all wish we had the wherewithal to say certain things in the moment, but how many of us actually do it and do it well? Saying, “I would have done THIS,” can compound terrible feelings of guilt that really aren’t necessary.

          1. Snark*

            Having been in a large number of situations where dangerous, awful, and/or distressing stuff happened and I was too paralyzed by the fog of WTF to figure out what to do, I have found it helpful to dissect the situation later and identify points where I could have made active choices rather than passive ones. It’s my feeling, given what I know of the characters of the people who regularly post here, that those comments are intended in that spirit.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Could have made different choices, of course. But “I can’t believe you did that! I would have done it this way,” is not nearly as helpful as, “In the future, it might be helpful to do X.” Whether it’s intended or not, “I would have ____ in that situation” can be really unhelpful.

              I used to do this myself until I realized that I was coming across as somehow superior or, worse, victim-blaming, even though that wasn’t my intent at all. People did this to me after a recent accident and it just made me feel worse. Besides, again, we can’t change what the OP did in the moment, we can only give her tips on how to move forward.

              1. Snark*

                Your point is valid and well-taken, I’ve had my hand adequately slapped over this above, I’ve said I’ll refrain from using wording that can come off as superior or victim-blamey, and at this point I’m really not sure what else you’re hoping to accomplish by continuing to call me out.

                1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  At the risk of sounding defensive, I’m a bit confused by your response. I had no intention of “continuing to call [you] out”, I was simply restating my point and why I disagreed with you while trying to acknowledge your point of view. For what it’s worth, I didn’t see any “hand slap” when I wrote my response, which I did quite soon after you wrote yours to my comment. I thought we were engaging in a discussion.

                2. Snark*

                  It’s fine. Let’s leave it. I got called out on this similarly by others earlier in the thread, and mistook this subthread as that one.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              I agree that most of the comments are intended in that spirit, but unless the OP regularly reads the comments, they may not know that. It’s not a bad thing to point out to people to be careful how they are phrasing their recommendations. In particular AlltheFiles’s comment that started with “You let him drive?! I just..I… What?” I don’t think they were intended to hammer the OP for not doing what they would have done, but it could easily be taken that way, and we want to encourage the OP, not make them feel bad for not doing more in the moment. It would probably be more helpful to the OP to be more clear that it’s advice, not admonishment.

            3. AllTheFiles*

              Wow, you explained that better than I could have Snark. Yes, naturally I think many people fall into the “I would have” phrasing and offer it as a different perspective on the same scenario. I tend to read comments while assuming positive intent and sometimes forget that others do not.

              I know I find a ton of value in comments from others on “what they would do” that give me options (and sometimes even phrasing) to ponder and maybe use in the future. Especially for someone new like OP, having those at the ready instead of trying to figure it out on the spot can be incredibly helpful. They can also serve as a reference on if you’re blowing something out of proportion or not. (You’re not, that could have ended in a serious car accident. Your life > work or being polite.)

              OP, if there was any confusion please know I was appalled at Ted’s behavior, not yours. His awful behavior is not your fault, but because it does impact you so directly you should feel confident in addressing it at the time and/or bringing it up later with his boss or HR.

              1. Elizabeth H.*

                I also find a ton of value in “what I would have done” type comments. When the situation in question isn’t high stakes (like “how should we organize the schedule for cleaning out the refrigerator?”) it’s easier to assume neutral or positive intent, but it can become fraught in th case of more serious matters.

              2. myswtghst*

                I tend to read comments while assuming positive intent and sometimes forget that others do not.

                I think this is a little ungenerous. While I do my level best to assume positive intent (I even have it written on a post-it on my desk as a reminder!), the sheer number of comments on this post which start with “I would have…” or “Why didn’t you…” would make assuming positive intent over and over and over again a pretty monumental undertaking.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yes. “Here’s what I would do going forward” is helpful. “Here’s how I would have handled this better than you did” is discouraging and unproductive.

    2. Health Insurance Nerd*

      Can we not do the whole “I would have/wouldn’t have” thing? Everyone responds differently in these situations, and it’s very easy to be the bystander who chimes in after the fact with the perfect reaction/behavior to that situation if they had been the one dealing with it.

    3. Rick*

      This reminds me of a story (I believe from Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell) where an airline co-pilot was so hesitant about being confrontational with air traffic control that the plane ran out of fuel while circling and crashed. The co-pilot never shared the seriousness of the situation with air traffic control despite talking about it with the pilot (the pilot and air traffic control did not share the same language).

      That story always comes to mind when I think about whether I should be “polite” or confrontational in a situation. People can and do remain polite right into clearly avoidable tragedy.

      1. fposte*

        There are a lot of them in flying, including the Tenerife crash. The co-pilot is heard asking leadingly if that other 747 got off the runway just as the pilot starts to roll. Impatient pilot says oh, yeah, sure. It hadn’t.

          1. fposte*

            The Asiana one? I hadn’t heard that that turned out to be a factor there as well. I guess this is a really hard lesson to learn.

          2. Nuts to you*

            Malcolm Gladwell’s point was that traditional Korean culture was too deferential to authority, which does not map well onto cockpit culture. The first officer on the KAL plane that crashed on Guam did not speak up even when her realized the pilot was on course to crash the plane. KAL has since revamped its cockpit culture (with the help of foreigners). Asiana did not, hence the SFO crash.

            This is also a reason that much of the South Korean army’s operational language is English, not Korean.

            1. nonegiven*

              If you are actually running out of fuel, it is totally appropriate to declare an emergency, say I’m next and get that runway clear right now, and land the sucker.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Mike, are you thinking of the recent near-crash (it was averted) at SFO? In that near-miss, the pilot approached the wrong runway and was about to land on top of Plane 2. Air traffic control missed the issue completely. The landing plane wasn’t called off until a pilot from a completely different plane drew ATC’s attention to the error.

            As far as I know, the Asiana crash was not caused by a communication failure within the flight crew. NTSB indicated it was caused by the pilot’s inaccurate understanding of his craft’s autopilot settings and the related impact on its auto-throttle (and by extension, air speed), which made it difficult to correct the glidepath.

        1. Specialk9*

          Wasn’t the end result of that to have training in which they taught people they had to explicitly argue with the pilot? (IIRC the Gladwell crash was by Japanese crew with a cultural thing about deferring to authority.) I don’t remember the exact details though.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, then you’re thinking of Avianca. I don’t remember if CRM was an issue in that one or not, but air-to-ground communication was definitely a big factor.

      2. Mike C.*

        I think the important thing is to act and worry about being polite/proper/professional later. When it comes to safety, social customs don’t matter. If you happen to be polite that’s fine but you shouldn’t let that get in the way of acting.

        1. Rick*

          “The important thing is to act” _in this situation_. What’s helpful to the OP is providing tools for identifying situations where she does or does not need to act.

          The trick is that humans don’t take all factors into account equally when making decisions (That would be paralyzing!) We want to be polite all the time and we want to be safe all the time, but it’s hard to tell when something is “unsafe enough” to justify not worrying about being polite. All sorts of biases interfere with making objective decisions, and the desire to please can be extremely compelling.

          I find it helpful to know that other people make clear mistakes about not recognizing when things have become too unsafe (such as the airplane crash), because it makes me more comfortable insisting that I reconsider the situation more carefully. In other words “I’m uncomfortable, but I don’t know if it’s just me. Other people have dismissed discomfort to the point of tragedy, so I should not dismiss my discomfort unless there’s clear evidence that my discomfort is unfounded.”

      3. Nancie*

        That reminds me of one of my favorite bits from the Cabin Pressure radio show:

        Trainer, suggesting how a copilot might bring something to the attention of a pilot:
        Step one: Get his attention. ‘Hey, chief?’
        Step two: state your concern in a non-confrontational manner. … ‘I _might be wrong_ but I think we’re low on fuel.’
        Step three: let him know how you feel about this. ‘This makes me feel uneasy.’
        Step four: propose a solution. ‘One thing we could do is reduce our speed.’
        Step five: Obtain buy-in to your idea. ‘How does that sound to you?’

        Douglas, a copilot who has no issues with confronting his pilot: Well, frankly, it sounds like the biggest load of —

        Trainer: No, no, that’s what you might say. ‘How does that sound to you?’ So, do you want to role-play that through now, Douglas?

        Douglas: I would love to. Hey, chief. I _might be wrong_ but I think we’re flying into a mountain. This makes me feel _scared of the mountain_. One thing we could do is pull up and fly _over_ the mountain. How does that sound to — *POW*!

        1. WonderingHowIGotHere*

          Oh yes, this was in my top 3 episodes (behind Limerick (all time favourite) and Xinzhou (made me laugh so hard I nearly knocked myself out cleaning the bath!))

  27. Massmatt*

    I’ve been in this situation and was angry with myself afterwards for not saying/doing anything about it until later. Your coworker put lives at risk, including your own, this is NOT OK and it speaks volumes to how we are socialized not to make waves or confront terrible behavior that we remain silent. Talk to your boss and his! It’s good that there was a witness, hopefully it won’t come down to a “he said/she said” situation.

  28. Natalie*

    I definitely understand not saying something in the moment, but it might help to reframe the texting and driving as equivalent to driving kind of drunk in your mind. I’m not being alarmist, there have been some studies showing it has a similar effect, along with being illegal basically everywhere. Lots of people justify doing it themselves (I’ll cop to it even though I’m not proud of it) which I think can make it even harder to speak up in the moment. But plenty of people justify driving tipsy, tired, or otherwise compromised and all of that stuff is dangerous, too.

    1. ZenJen*

      It’s called Distracted Driving and it is DANGEROUS. If Ted was my coworker, I’d have insisted that he pull over, and insisted on ME driving. I’d NEVER let anyone endanger my life like that, and sit there quietly. (My parents were part of an accident on a highway–a woman died, and had been texting. My mother was giving her CPR, but the woman died anyway.)
      And yes, I’d also be telling my boss and Ted’s boss what happened on the trip–LW and Ted were representing the company and his behavior is unprofessional and immature.

      1. Natalie*

        This is like a textbook example of the kind of comment discussed upthread that can feel really accusatory towards the letter writer. I get that this kind of dangerous behavior inspires a lot of passion – I’m a bike commuter so I get STABBY (metaphorically) about bad driving – but all caps “I’d never”s just come across as guilting and not actually helpful to the letter writer.

    2. Jayne*

      In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, the scientists report that people behind the wheels of passenger vehicles are distracted more than 50 percent of the time. That doubles their risk of a crash. Nearly 70 percent of the crashes the researchers analyzed involved “some type of observable distraction,” they wrote.

      “These findings are important because we see a younger population of drivers, particularly teens, who are more prone to engaging in distracting activities while driving,” Tom Dingus, the study’s lead author and the director of VTTI, said in a statement. “Our analysis shows that, if we take no steps in the near future to limit the number of distracting activities in a vehicle, those who represent the next generation of drivers will only continue to be at greater risk of a crash.

      The main culprit, of course, is the cell phone….Drivers were observed dialing a phone just 0.14 percent of the time, but the act raised the odds of an accident by a factor of 12 compared to what the researchers call “model driving,” or driving while “alert, attentive, and sober.” Texting occurred 1.91 percent of the time, leading to a risk increase by a factor of six. Drivers talked on the phone 3.24 percent of the time, and chatting more than doubled the risk of an incident. Just reaching for a handheld cell phone increased the odds of an accident nearly five times.”–Mar. 8 2016, Citylab,

  29. Aphrael*

    I know this is not really the point, but as a fellow motion-sickness sufferer, I feel so much rage that he took all your pills. I guard mine like a dragon, and while I would have offered to share like you did, I would be breathing fire at anyone who finished them. Just the thought of traveling somewhere without them makes me a little anxious.

    1. K.*

      I don’t have motion sickness but that stuck out to me too – it was one more thing on the “wow, Ted seems like a really asshole” list.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      And it worries me that he took more than the recommended dosage. I once double-dosed motion sickness pills on accident and let’s just say I was in *no* condition to drive an automobile.

  30. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    There are VERY few reasons it’s acceptable to vomit at work. Drinking is NOT one of them. – signed, someone who threw up repeatedly on a business trip, then asked my coworker to drive my car 4 hours home, all thanks to food poisoning. That was not a good trip.

  31. Mazzy*

    Wow, and I totally would have ripped the phone out of his hand if he was texting and would have had no qualms about it, of course, I’m older and don’t care anymore. Also, I’d leave off the last “incident.” It was pretty anti-climactic and you don’t want to come across as trying hard to build a case against someone by adding in that they used a slang phrase on a very long road trip, after all of the bad things they did.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      Are you referring to the part where he used “retarded”? If so, that’s not just a “slang phrase,” that’s a slur. The OP should absolutely mention that to HR so that they can tell him to cut it out.

      1. Observer*

        Yeah. Again, it’s a matter of what he’s likely to say around others. No one wants to be the thought police. But, do you really want someone who is going to use that kind of language around customers or business partners? I probably wouldn’t go to HR just over this. But, it does show the pattern of his behavior. No judgement, no filter.

    2. N.J.*

      I’m not sure that the word “retarded” should’ve vowed as a slang phrase though. Yes, he used it to refer to a situation, not a person, but retarded is a well-known slur against mentally handicapped/developmentally disabled people. It’s actudlky never ok to use it and I support the idea of the OP mentioning it too. If he is situationally unaware enough to do all the things he did, who’s to say he won’t use that word around someone who is mentally handicapped or has family/friends who are? Especially in the context of the larger discussion related to his professionalism and the image of the company he projects, it would seem appropriate. And just to reiterate, calling something or someone retarded is not “using a slang phrase”, ever. It’s very much not ok.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Referring to something that is bad as “retarded” is not using slang and, in fact, it speaks volumes about Ted’s character and judgement.

      Is it as egregious as the rest of his actions? Not in the long run, but don’t minimize it.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, it’s not a “slang” phrase — it’s not like saying “ain’t” or “on fleek” or whatever the kids are saying these days. It’s a slur.

      1. Ice and Indigo*

        And here’s the thing about it in a professional context. Yes, a lot of people use it, and think it’s in the ‘way too sensitive’ camp to object it. The people who are sensitive about it include people like me: people who have children or other loved ones with developmental disabilities.

        People like me:

        a. Are commoner than you’d think.

        b. Look just like everybody else, and you probably won’t know we have disabled loved ones unless we explicitly say so.

        c. May very well be clients of your company that you can’t afford to piss off.

        So being generally shitty aside, it’s really bad judgement to use that word among people you aren’t absolutely sure won’t be angered by it.

    5. Optimist*

      Is there any chance that Ted is a non-native English speaker?

      I’ve personally observed several cases where people in their 20’s who learned English from outdated books and whatnot who genuinely thought the word “retarded” was the standard non-offensive term to describe objects or processes that are not moving as quickly as is desirable.

      They would frequently say things like “Ugh, this traffic is retarded” meaning literally that “Ugh, this traffic is slow”. Once somebody explained the modern context and broader implications of the word they would stop using it, but I’m sure they offended quite a few folks before this happened.

      Ted sounds like he’s got plenty of other problems even if this is the case, though.

      1. Observer*

        He graduated college in a fairly small US college. It’s HIGHLY unlikely that he’s an adult learner of English.

  32. Observer*

    In addition to talking to whoever does recruiting and Ted’s boss, please talk to your boss. You want to make sure that they will have your back if Ted starts trying to cause you problems or you get paired up with him again.

    Focus on the harm to the company first, and the danger he put everyone in, which is also a major liability for the company. The danger is a bigger issue, and I hope your company sees it that way, but getting their self interest hooked can’t hurt even so. And if they tend not to be to ethical or sensible about the issue of safety, focusing on the clear damage and liability risk to the company should get their attention anyway.

    I would say that even though Ted taking all of you medication is a jerk move, I’d leave it out. You don’t want to give anyone an excuse to minimize what happened. “OP is just complaining because Ted took all their medication. boohoo.”

    Last, but not least, Alison and all of the others are 100% correct that you probably could have made the decision not to let him drive in the first place, and you certainly had standing to TELL him that you are taking over, not offering to do him a favor. And probably telling him the same about the interviews.

      1. Observer*

        I’m guessing that Jane is also relatively junior / new to the workforce.

        I’m also going to bet that Ted thinks that since he’s a guy he doesn’t need to listen to what “some girl” says. Who is HR anyway? She’s not my boss!

        OP, I’m curious, are you a man or a woman?

        1. Everything Bagel Fan*

          Well I know in some companies HR employees are held to a specific standard. This includes speaking up during this quagmire. But yes if she is junior it may of felt untenable to do so.

          1. Natalie*

            See, in my experience “talent management” is under HR because that’s the most logical place for it, but they aren’t the trained the same as, say, compliance or payroll-type HR employees.

            1. Parse*

              Usually, they send someone from Talent Acquisition, who may not have much training on workplace conflict. This makes it especially important to talk to Jane about escalating this to Ted’s manager, in case she’s afraid that she’ll get in trouble for not stepping in as HR.

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          I don’t really feel the need to know OP’s gender. I don’t think it’s helpful to discussion to assume that OP is a woman and that if OP been assertive about Ted’s behavior he would have ignored the concerns. It’s too speculative and the issue is pretty clear cut as it is!

          1. Oranges*

            I actually assumed that she was because of the sheer blatentness of Ted’s assholery. Like he knew (consciously or instinctively) that he would be less likely to be called out by a female because power dynamics. I could be wrong and he could just be that blatant regardless of the gender of the co-workers/peers.

          2. Observer*

            The issue is quite clear cut. But the OP’s gender is relevant – for one thing the line women have to walk definitely complicates responses to these kinds of situations. And I have absolutely no doubt that Ted’s response to the OP was influenced by the OP’s gender. Of course it’s not the whole story, and either way, he’s a MASSIVE problem. But it does help to explain why things worked out the way they did.

    1. CM*

      I would just lay out all the facts, not emphasizing or leaving out anything in particular. There are so many issues here, and you don’t know what’s going to raise a red flag for the manager.

    2. Jae*

      I came here to also say the same thing. The company can potentially be sued in the event of an accident while traveling for work

    3. myswtghst*

      please talk to your boss. You want to make sure that they will have your back if Ted starts trying to cause you problems or you get paired up with him again.

      This is a great point. Not only does this ensure OP’s boss is prepared if HR/Ted’s boss/Ted approaches them, it also gives OP a chance to talk through everything with their boss and potentially get some feedback on what to emphasize when talking to HR/Ted’s boss.

  33. I'm Not Phyllis*

    I’m actually very surprised that Jane didn’t step in at some point. If I’m reading correctly, she might not have seen his behaviour at the interviews (because you were doing them separately) but am I correct in assuming that she was in the car with you at the end? If so I’m surprised that she allowed him to get behind the wheel knowing that he a) was hungover/possibly still a bit under the influence depending on the time, b) taking more than the prescribed dosage of medication, and c) driving erratically. But none of that helps you OP, so as for what I’d do now – I’d talk to Jane and let her know that I plan to go to his manager and ask if she wants to accompany you or if she has anything to add to your narrative. HR is already aware (because Jane is HR) but his manager definitely needs to be looped in here to deal with this.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It makes me wonder if Jane is also young and early in her career and was just as thrown by the behavior as LW.

      I could see the company sending ‘young and hip’ representatives to try and recruit college students.

  34. MilkMoon (UK)*

    There’s plenty of good advice here already so all I’ve got to say is, Ted is an absolute arsehole, and I’m sorry you and Jane had to deal with that.

  35. Anecdata*

    For people who’ve been there, how do you go about the logistics of “talking to someone else’s manager” in situations like this?

    My instinct would probably be to talk to my own manager in a 1:1 and rely on them to pass it to the other person’s manager – so I’m curious to hear if it would otherwise be (more?) appropriate to go directly to the other person’s manager (in a case like this, where you know the other person is over-the-line).

    And if you do, do you – send them an email? Ask to schedule a meeting but not say what about?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d talk in person and broach it this way: “Something happened on my trip with Ted this week that concerned me enough that I feel like I need to tell you about it.”

      1. Pollygrammer*

        I would also check in briefly with Jane before starting the discussion. She could corroborate OR she could feel pressured to minimize things out of misguided sympathy or loyalty, or for fear of retaliation (really bad, but not totally unlikely).

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          I could also see Jane minimizing because she is HR and didn’t do anything in the moment (because of freeze up, because of inexperience, or whatever) and knows she should have because she is HR. The LW should definitely speak to her and (ideally) they could both speak up at the same time.

          Send us an update, LW!

    2. I'm Not Phyllis*

      That’s a great point – it can be very awkward. My instinct would probably be the same as yours – to go to my manager first and either have them handle it, or ask for advice on how I should approach this with the other manager. However in this case, I think the OP can make this move with Jane (though it probably wouldn’t hurt for OP to speak to their manager as a heads up as well!).

    3. Observer*

      I think that the OP really needs to be the one talking to Ted’s manager. I think Alison’s script is good. But, I would ALSO talk to my manager. I’d want to make sure they have my back on this.

    4. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I haven’t specifically had to “talk to someone’s manager” but I think the answer would heavily depend on the company structure and culture. If I already knew that manager and worked with them, I might see about dropping by for a quick face-to-face meeting; but if I didn’t, or the company structure was pretty formal and the manager was many levels higher than my position, I may write a more formal letter and send it through the interoffice mail — not an email. This incident, to me, is so egregious, I would write a formal complaint letter to the appropriate person in HR and send a copy to Ted’s boss. Jane is in HR, but there are different types of specialties within HR and her job seems to be in recruitment and hiring — not employee relations or discipline.

    5. Parse*

      I feel like I’d talk to my manager first. My manager might have some insight into how to proceed, like maybe this is so severe that he/she wants HR in a meeting with Ted’s boss.

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        That’s where I would go. If my manager thought I needed to be involved, they could make that call on how. It’s not a cop-out, particularly if you’re more or less at the same level (Though OP described herself as senior, I wasn’t sure if that meant truly senior or just “has been at the company a year longer”. In my org there’s a difference.)

    6. Kvothe*

      As someone who did this as a very junior person it absolutely sucks (even more so when the person you’re reporting is WAY more senior than you) but I went to my grandboss and asked if we could talk and basically laid out what happened to him. But like I worked with my grandboss on the daily (and this particular incident happened on one of his projects) but if I didn’t I probably would have gone to my manager instead

    7. Totally Minnie*

      If it we’re me, I think I’d start by going to my manager and saying “some really troubling things happened on my recent recruiting trip with Ted. Would it be possible to set up a meeting for the two of us with Ted’s manager? I think it’s important that I relay the same information to both of you.”

      That way, you know your manager and Ted’s manager have received the same information in the same way, and you’ve got your own boss in the room to back you up and lend moral support (if your manager is someone you can generally seek moral support from).

    8. Written*

      I just did this. I sent an e-mail to the manager asking if he could call me (I would normally do it the other way, or in person, but there was a time zone/location difference). I didn’t say what it was about, but it was after a string of e-mails with his employee so he had an idea and I already had a (strong) working relationship with the manager.

  36. The Smile on a Dog*

    I’m sorry you went through this, OP. What a rude and inconsiderate human. You did the best you could. I hope your company steps up with support for you and discipline for Ted.

  37. Adlib*

    I just want to add good luck, OP! I hope that you’ll be able to give us a good update at some point after speaking with management.

  38. OlympiasEpiriot*


    Ok, next time — though I really hope you don’t have to ever deal with this again — feel free to speak up. Don’t worry about being nice. He could not do what you all had been sent to do and it wasn’t due to food poisoning or other not-his-fault illness.

    On the driving topic, I have been on job sites where people turned up to operate backhoes or drilling rigs with hangovers. Sometimes I suspected they still were drunk AND had hangovers. This doesn’t make for a safe working environment. I’d rather have the rep as the scary no-f**ks-to-give Resident Eng. than see anyone, including people I don’t like, injured or killed.

    You will be entirely justified bringing this to your manager and Ted’s manager.

  39. Elizabeth West*

    Should I speak with someone in HR about how his behavior was at best inappropriate and worst dangerous?


    If I were Ted’s manager, I absolutely would want to know. If I were HR, my eyebrows would be climbing into my hair right about now, but I absolutely would want to know. This is all bad, bad, bad.

    I wouldn’t send Ted out at ALL on any more trips and I’d be watching him like a hawk for any more screwups.

  40. Erin*

    Oh gosh, what a nightmare. Yes, this does go way beyond this dude being hungover during interviews. I might even be willing to give him a pass as a one-time mistake if he showed some remorse but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Also, drinking a little too much the night before a work thing can happen, I guess – but blackout drunk? Wow. And I agree with Alison that the driving is the worst of this.

    I would consider collaborating with Jane before you speak up about this and maybe do it together. At an absolute bare minimum I’d explain to your higher ups that you are not comfortable getting into a car with this fellow driving again.

    You survived this ordeal and you’ll be fine going forward – at this point it’s just a matter of finding the right wording to address it with the people who need to know about it.

  41. Juli G.*

    I 100% advocate being direct but if you didn’t feel comfortable with that, there’s the old “I’m feeling motion sick. I think if I could drive, I’d feel better.”

    1. fposte*

      Ordinarily I’m a big fan of being direct with co-worker problems, but this is one of those situations where if it works, I’m all for it, whatever it is. So if you can get him out of the driver’s seat by making gagging noises, go for it.

  42. knitcrazybooknut*

    I’m so sorry you went through this, OP. I’ve been through a similar situation, where you’re white knuckled and just hoping you get through it because you’re afraid to say anything or you don’t know what to do or say. I hope that you’re able to speak to your manager and that when you do, you get the response that this horrific instance truly deserves, which is what you’re seeing here in the comments. (What I’m hoping for is basically: That’s ridiculous, Ted is fired, and I’m so sorry this happened, thank you for bringing it to our attention.)

    I hope you can sort through the helpful comments and take them as intended: a way to bolster your understanding of office norms and give you confidence in your future dealings in the professional world.

  43. Nita*

    Wow. OP, I’m sorry you had this experience and am so glad you all got home safe. Ted’s management and HR absolutely need to know about the whole thing. He’s just ruined your company’s image for everyone you interviewed. Possibly for others too, because if other students will ask the interviewees what impression they got – well, guess what they’ll say? It would have been better to send no one on the trip, then to send him.

    And his lack of judgement while driving? Huge risk and huge liability for the company. The fact that he didn’t get into a crash or get his license suspended for the speeding and texting is a miracle. I guess the police at the scene of the accident had other priorities. In any case, he should not be allowed to drive a company car, and coworkers should not put their safety on the line by having to be his passengers.

  44. Sunshine Brite*

    This is so unbelievably egregious. At this point, I would distance myself from Ted, which might not be difficult in your different roles.

    Approach your manager, his manager, and HR.

    Going out with the frat meant that he was likely drinking with at least some of the candidates, whether at the house or at the bar. He did not represent your company positively to a variety of presumably enthusiastic candidates likely during one of their first impressions of your place of business. His behavior reflects poorly on all younger workers attempting to build a professional reputation.

    He was so drunk that he put his safety and yours at risk. He was so blackout that he does not know how he got back to the hotel; that level of drinking is highly problematic. It’s fairly socially acceptable unfortunately during college and just after (been there myself) but learning to rein it in is part of transitioning to being an adult professional or realizing that you need to seek professional assistance.

    He deserves strong consequences for his behavior. He put you, Jane, and everyone out on that road at risk by driving under the influence and distracted. He acted in a highly dangerous way. HR and his manager may be able to offer him chemical use treatment and/or consider termination for the behavior that he demonstrated on this trip. They need your perspective and experiences to be able to make the safest decision possible for everyone involved.

  45. clow*

    Ted sounds like he still wants to live the college life. What a complete jerk. OP, I’m sorry you and Jane had to deal with him. I can’t imagine what impression he gave the students you were interviewing. If I were interviewing with someone clearly hungover, whose phone was going off all the time, I’m pretty sure I would be looking to work at another company. He put you all in danger, and made everyone look pretty bad. In the future, I might refuse to go on trips with him, no one wants to babysit people like this.

  46. Justin*

    He dug a hole and then just kept on digging, huh?

    I think many of us have… gone a bit too far the night before work for one reason or another. That’s an error in judgment. (I mean, I’ve never gone THIS far, but still). But once you make one mistake, taking a fire hose and spraying it everywhere to spread your foolishness is just absurd. It’s not up to OP, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the manager gets rid of him for all of this, or at least metaphorically sends him to the basement with a swingline stapler.

    1. Snark*

      It’s my observation that people can get locked into self-destructive grooves once they’ve made one self-destructive choice. Maybe it’s guilt and self-loathing, but it’s like they just feel compelled to ride the bomb all the way down. NOT THAT I’VE BEEN PONDERING THIS OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS OR ANYTHING

    2. Anon to me*

      To me the getting drunk part isn’t the big problem. It’s a problem, because he didn’t perform the next day, and it does look unprofessional to be out drinking with your old college buddies before recruiting interviews, but it happens. And, it’s learning experience.

      The big issue to me is the day after behavior. Getting drunk the night before does not mean that you don’t work the following day at the level expected (no matter how horrible you feel), nor does it excuse dangerous behavior that puts others at risk. To me the fireable offense isn’t the drinking, it’s everything else after that.

      1. Nico M*

        Yes. If he’d just turned up in the morning and said “sorry, I’m a fool, I’m hungover, I go bed now” then it would just be that the company wasted a few dollars on his travel and accommodation.

  47. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

    This comment isn’t really directed at the OP, because it wasn’t her responsibility in this situation (but may be one day in the future!), but I think it’s worth mentioning. For the love of all that is holy if you supervise young* or new to the work world employees, please take the time to go over expectations for out of office work behavior. This should ideally happen right before an dinner/lunch event, work trip, or other activity. You should explicitly say what your office/company culture is and give them tips for matching it*. My conversation includes; tips for not drinking and tips for heavier drinking, and most importantly how to keep an eye out and deal with drunk coworkers and customers.

    It can seem like a weird or obvious conversation to have, but it’s so important and will head off most of these kind of train wrecks. Unfortunately not all… but most.

    *From my general spiel you can probably guess I work at a drinking culture company so not all of this would apply if your company isn’t a drinking culture.

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s a really good point, especially on something like a recruiting visit. Maybe just a practice that first-timers get a sheet of behavioral guidelines to ensure they understand company culture–it can be literal “being on the same page” kind of thing that doesn’t have to suggest you were raised in a barn, just to make explicit what it and isn’t cool with the employer. That also helps people in the OP’s situation to know when the guidelines are being, to put it mildly, deviated from by somebody else, too.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is a very good point.

      My boss and I went to lunch with a client a while back and the client ordered wine and asked us if we wanted drinks. I declined because I’m not new to the workforce and know better and after the meeting, my boss mentioned to me that if I had accepted, she would have said something to me about it.

      But someone who is unaware of professional norms may have thought that since the client was offering, it was okay to say yes.

      1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

        That’s why it’s important to know your company norms. Your situation of a glass of wine would be ok at my company (and others).

        1. K.*

          Yeah, I’m about 50/50 in terms of how this would go over at companies where I’ve worked – half would be fine, half would raise their eyebrows. I tend to err on the side of not drinking at work stuff, especially if I’m new and not sure how the culture is, but I can think of two companies specifically where ordering a glass of wine with lunch when offered would be fine. My ex is an ad exec and people use to comment that he WASN’T drinking at client stuff (he drank but didn’t like to do so on the clock; we were similar that way), because the culture was to do so. Not to excess, but partaking was normal.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        Hmm, interesting. I feel that if I went to lunch with a client who ordered wine, and if I’m someone who drinks and feels comfortable drinking a glass of wine at lunch, I would have considered it polite even to also have a glass of wine. I’m not sure it’s a professional norm across the board?

        1. Anon for this one*

          Yup. At my firm, if the client is drinking and you are not, it’s weird. There’s basically an expectation to drink which isn’t great either.

        2. Also anon for this one*

          Our company policy is that employees can expense alcohol for clients at business meals, but not for themselves. Which makes employees choose between the awkwardness of not drinking when the client does or the awkwardness of trying to get their own drink put on a separate check.

      3. INSEAD alum*

        “my boss mentioned to me that if I had accepted, she would have said something to me about it.”
        What company do you work at (so I know to avoid it!).

    3. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      Oops… I forgot I had two *

      the first (and missing one) should be:

      For the love of all that is holy if you supervise young* or new to the work world employees…

      * Also reminders to not young or new employees can be a good idea. For the more experienced/older employees I keep it to quick reminders before big events that I phrase as “Things you already know but I’m going to say it again”

      You should explicitly say what your office/company culture is and give them tips for matching it**.
      **From my general spiel you can probably guess I work at a drinking culture company so not all of this would apply if your company isn’t a drinking culture.

      1. zora*

        I phrase as “Things you already know but I’m going to say it again”

        Oh wow, I love this phrasing so much. I’m going to hang onto this for future needs!

    4. Lynca*

      We do this prior to conference visits even with veteran employees. It helps to have it stated in black and white what the expectations are.

    5. Rick*

      Good point.

      Also, you may have employees who don’t drink, have never drunk, and have no idea of basic social norms around others drinking.

    6. PlainJane*

      Excellent point. Business travel is sometimes glamorized in movies and such, so someone new to the work world could have the idea that business trip = party on the company dime. Making expectations clear is such a fundamental part of management, but it can be so easy to miss.

      1. Everything Bagel Fan*

        Replying to comment about giving all junior employees a run down of social norms and rules. Yes, I think this would be something hr or a manager should go over. Not someone lateral to me. And yes, I did.

        1. Natalie*

          The comment started with “if you supervise young or new to the work world employees, please take the time to go over expectations for out of office work behavior.” (italics mine) It’s directed at managers, not peers.

    1. Aurion*

      I think when said coworker’s behaviour (1) poses actual danger to his colleagues and other people he share the road with and (2) represents the company poorly to colleges and future candidates, he has lost whatever professional courtesy being a colleague entails.

      1. Everything Bagel Fan*

        Again, I was replying to comment above. And yes I would make a comment in a dangerous situation.

          1. Everything Bagel Fan*

            I just meant it can depend on the coworker and situation. If I am a new employee I would feel uncomfortable giving a coworker a spiel on drinking/decorum. If I was a more senior worker than I may be more open to remind them of rules etc.

            1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

              Gotcha… that’s why I started with the statement below. The comment was meant for others that are in a manager or supervisor role or for the OP in the future if they find themselves with direct reports.

              “This comment isn’t really directed at the OP, because it wasn’t her responsibility in this situation (but may be one day in the future!), but I think it’s worth mentioning. ”

              I agree I don’t think that peers should be sending this msg to each other.

              1. Everything Bagel Fan*

                Yes, and sadly I don’t see a Ted type taking any advice. Thanks for your clarification, that makes sense.

            2. SarahKay*

              Hello…ello…ello..ello..llo..llo..lo did specifically say that this advice wasn’t directed at OP on this occasion, but might be useful for future when OP is more senior.

              1. Everything Bagel Fan*

                Yes, upthread I replied to two people about re-reading the comment and agreeing with it.

                1. SarahKay*

                  Yes, sorry, by the time I’d commented it was already redundant – I promise it wasn’t meant as a pile-on.

  48. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Yeah, this definitely warrants throwing “politeness” out the window. This isn’t just for people’s safety either: if he causes an accident and it turns out he was still drunk and you let him drive knowing this, you are usually also liable for that accident.
    But yeah, I can totally understand not wanting to get confrontational. I’d like to say I myself would get confrontational about it and forcing them to pull over or something, but in reality who knows what I’d do. Here’s hoping I won’t ever need to find out, and hoping that you never have to be in this situation ever again OP.

  49. Lady Phoenix*

    I wonder if the OP didn’t speak up was also because he was carsick. Afterall, douchebro took all his motion sickness pills and decided to drive like a raging asshole. I know that when I get car sick, I REALLY don’t want to do anything at the cost of making myself puke.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Yes. Not to mention it’s hard to form coherent thoughts when everything in your brain is screaming for you not to puke.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        I will correct on that. Your brain is not just screaming “Do not puke”. It is just screaming.

        1. zora*

          Ugh, i just remembered this happened to me on a recent work trip, in an actual limo with 7 other coworkers in it. (ride booked to the airport).

          And it wasn’t because of any drinking, I had been sick a few days before the trip and still wasn’t feeling great and I forgot that I get carsick in the back of long vehicles like that. (regular sized cars are fine). And definitely spent the last 20 minutes just focused on not puking. Thank goodness the ride was somewhat short! I hate that feeling.

  50. CBH*

    I’m curious… do you think this is a fireable event?

    Ted was sent to do one job and seemed to take advantage of the situation in an unprofessional manner. OP being senior but newish probably didn’t have the experience to handle it; Jane may not have been aware of everything going on as she was doing separate interviews.

    To me this whole event puts Ted on thin ice.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Not sure. A lot probably depends on the culture of the company, and how willing they are to give people second chances. I have worked in places where management was way too “kind,” and Ted would have been referred to EAP.
      Where I work now, he’d be walked out by Security carrying his gear in a box.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      I think it could be considered. In addition to the safety problems, he provided a poor example of this company to potential recruits and their career center which may have put the company’s reputation in jeopardy for years to come.

    3. CM*

      Absolutely. Ted’s behavior was illegal. Without the dangerous driving, I could see it going either way — being hungover and failing to appropriately interview people could be a fireable offense, but the organization could also decide to give him a good talking-to and another chance.

      (I don’t think this reflects on OP and Jane at all… they did their job and shouldn’t be expected to deal with behavior like this.)

    4. Allison*

      Maybe, maybe not. It could be that people in his role are a dime a dozen, and he’s easily replaced. It could be he has a niche skillset that’s a pain in the bum to recruit for, and the company decides it’s easier to talk to him about his behavior, put him on some sort of probation, closely monitor him for a bit, etc.

    5. Jules the Third*

      Depends heavily on company and industry culture, and his overall role. The two extremes I see are:
      Heavy drinking culture, with driving as not a regular part of his job? Taking him out of these trips, limiting any ‘face of the company’ business trips, limiting any driving for the company, and monitoring whether his work seems to be impacted by hangovers.

      My current company? Fired. Aside from the ‘putting your coworkers in danger on a work trip,’ we have a policy that you don’t work under the influence of alcohol. For example, if you need to drink during a lunch to seal a deal, just take the rest of the day off, for example. This has actually loosened up a little, they’ve *served* alcohol at an afternoon holiday function this year (big tech co trying to act like a start up), but the unofficial attitude about how to work after that was ‘only do internal work after drinking, nothing client-facing.’ And yeah, people actually discussed how they should address work after one 8oz 6% beer.

      For geographical reference: US South site of a global company

    6. Elizabeth H.*

      I absolutely think it’s fireable. To me, the linchpin of the grounds for firing is his conduct in the interviews – being unprofessional, giving a negative impression of the company to interviewees, and choosing not to sit out when he couldn’t perform up to standards.

      If his behavior in the *car* had been identical but he behaved normally and not unprofessionally in the interviews, or if he simply sat out the interviews due to his hangover, I wouldn’t jump to firing but I would take it very seriously and perhaps go to PIP if that’s a thing. I don’t think I would jump to firing if he sucked in the interviews but became collegial and sincerely apologetic afterwards and on the drive and drove appropriately or didn’t drive. It’s the combination of his behavior in the interviews and his flagrantly unthoughtful behavior afterwards that makes it so serious. It shows complete disrespect for his company, the interviewees, and his colleagues. More than anything, it’s that he seemed not to realize that his behavior was so not okay that is very serious. If you have to miss interviews or screw up the interviews and have to stop to throw up, you should be twice as accommodating in every other possible way (e.g. not drive, APOLOGIZE to coworkers, ask OP for permission before deciding to just take all her motion sickness tablets, be courteous) instead of doubling down by speeding, driving like an asshole and violating traffic laws.

    7. BarkusOrlyus*

      If it was me? I’d fire him. Not giving enough of a hoot about your coworkers’ personal safety to avoid ridiculously aggressive and reckless driving is bad for group cohesion. Just as a for instance.

  51. Jam Today*

    I wish Jane, as the representative from HR, had sent him back to the hotel immediately to sleep it off after he arrived severely hungover (and, if memory of my own misspent 20s serves, probably reeking of alcohol sweats). This not only rises to but completely blows past the threshold for 30-day PIP in my view. Granted he probably won’t have another chance to demonstrate *not* getting sh-tfaced in that timeframe, but being threatened with imminent termination may serve to snap him out of his belief that he’s still in college.

    NB: I feel hella old right now. I can’t function if I don’t get 8-9 hours of sleep after having more than two drinks over the course of an entire evening.

  52. Manager-at-Large*

    Let’s recap: LW is 3 years out of college – maybe 25? Ted is 1 year out, maybe 23? And they are going on an out of town recruiting tip with someone from HR. This seems like madness to me that there wasn’t someone more seasoned for an in-person trip to a college for a hiring event. You are sending a team to represent the company not relate to the interviewees.

    Agree with all who advise that Ted’s manager needs to be informed and hope that “person from HR” runs this up their management line as well as this recruiting trip has all sorts of potentially bad fall-out for the company.

    1. Manager-at-Large*

      I wanted to add that LW should advise their own manager of what happened, all of it. That manager should talk with Ted’s boss (assuming they are not one and the same). I’m not suggesting that LW talk to Ted’s boss or try to run it up HR chain. Jane should be running it up the HR chain.

    2. CM*

      I did trips like this on my own a couple of years out of college, recruiting for a large company. I don’t think I needed to be supervised. I was trained, of course, before the trip.

  53. Merci Dee*

    OP, I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of this. The morning-after behavior was bad enough on its own, but the nobody should have to endure the car ride from Hades that you and Jane went through.

    Please, please, please, talk to HR and Ted’s manager about this. From the time Ted ducked out to hit the bars until the wheels stopped rolling at your office. If you feel that it will help, maybe you could take the letter that you wrote to submit here, do a bit of formatting if you feel it’s appropriate (maybe some bullet points would make the sequence of events easier to navigate if you feel the need to glance down to check some facts?) and take it with you to HR and Ted’s manager. You’ve done a great job of laying out the sequence of events, and you might feel a little more settled about talking with these people if you have something to refer to. I find that notes help to keep me grounded and keep my thoughts rolling forward. Also, the notes would be great documentation, if anyone asks for it.

  54. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

    Where was the HR rep during all of this? Unless the HR role is a specialized recruiting role and not a generalist, I guess I would have expected more from them.

    1. SarahKay*

      I was surprised at that too…in fact on first read of the letter, I’d assumed HR Rep wasn’t even in the car given the lack of input from her.

  55. LCL*

    What Alison said. Basically, word has to get to Ted’s manager about his poor actions on this trip. Not so Ted can face consequences for his actions-it’s too late and too hard to prove. But his manager need to know about everything, so she can talk to Ted and has been warned that Ted may have a drinking/drug problem. Ted’s manager can keep a closer eye on him now that she is aware of any potential problems.

    Ted is young enough that this may be the warning that he needs and he will realize his childhood is over and straighten up. I have seen it happen before with this age group. Or Ted may continue with the high risk behavior and eventually get fired. Speaking from my limited experience, and knowing that anecdotes aren’t data, the willingingness to risk everything to gamble is the key to his reckless personality, and I don’t see much hope here. But I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

  56. Sara without an H*

    OP, I know you’re uncomfortable with reporting Ted’s behavior, but you really, really have to do it. I agree with several earlier commenters, if you’re not sure what to do, start with your own manager. Ted has harmed your company’s reputation with all the students who interviewed with you that day, and his driving put you, Jane, and everybody else on the road in harm’s way.
    If I were your manager, I’d be upset if you didn’t tell me about this episode. And if I were Ted’s manager, I’d be furious.

    1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      I’d prefer an update that tells us the story that Ted got his head out of his butt and learned from this. :)

      1. Health Insurance Nerd*

        Same. The professional norms that the majority of us here adhere to have been learned over the course of many years in the workforce. Yeah, there is definitely something to be said about common sense, but at the outset this is really an opportunity for Ted to hopefully step back and realize that he seriously stepped in it.

      2. Close Bracket*

        An update from Ted saying that getting fired aided in pulling his head out of his butt and describing how he changed his behavior at his next company would be the best update of all.

  57. H.C.*

    Also, unless company policy mandates it, I would have strong reservations about sharing the same car as Ted on future work trips. And even if there is a company policy, I might seek an exception – given Ted’s awful behavior here.

  58. Catalina*

    I’m interested about Jane’s role in the car ride home as well. She wasn’t there for the interview portion of the egregious behavior, but if she was in the car, perhaps you could speak with her beforehand and make sure you both have the same estimates when it comes to 25 miles over the speed limit and the 12 inch measurement of tailgating. Not to mention two minutes driving on a shoulder while police cars watched. Two minutes is a long time to be passing that many police cars.

    I’m not suggesting it’s impossible, but assuming a speed limit of 65 mph, this guy was going at least 90 mph AND more in significant daytime traffic, and a 12 inch traveling distance a significant amount of times seems…… too close to NOT cause an accident, and possibly unable to confirm. Honestly it’s pretty hard to simply park 12 inches from a car, much less drive behind at that length.

    I’ve been in a situation with a dangerous driver, who chose to drive with excessive speed, weaving, and tailgating (couldn’t give you numbers, but like pornography you know it when you see it) and in that situation, my fear made it hard to quantify, but the numbers don’t really matter. You know what it looks like. You shouldn’t feel the need to pad it.

    I’ll admit in younger, less responsible days I’ve driven 90 mph, but it was only possible in the middle of the night when it’s empty and a straight shot. I mean it. Couldn’t have done it otherwise. The fastest I ever managed in enough traffic to warrant tailgating and weaving is perhaps 75 mph or so, because the logistics just don’t allow it.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is you went through something really traumatic, with a ton of other microaggressions. If it were me I would have been stressed, confused, and not even sure where to begin to deal with that mess.

    So please talk with Jane, who can help you frame the situation that absolutely needs to be addressed and take it from there. You have every right, and as someone said above, you’re not making it awkward, he already crossed that line and left it miles ago. Consider looping in your own boss first for guidance, but really Jane from HR is a good first step too.

    Good luck, hope to hear from you with additional information and an update. I hope you’re reading this and can provide that.

  59. babblemouth*

    I was once in a car a colleague was driving. He drove 170km/h on a highway limited at 11km/h. I spoke up and asked him to slow down. He did, and then sped up again 5 minutes later. A senior manager was in the car with us and didn’t speak up.

    To this day I regret not asking him to pull over so I could drive in his place.

  60. Yet Even Another Alison*

    The issue of Ted’s work performance in the interviews, in my opinion, is separate from the driving. In the interviewing he did not perform well (frankly it sounds like he did not perform at all) – tell his manager. It does matter the reason why. If he worked for me, he would get one warning on the interview performance and that would be it. Someone on this site mentioned that they had recently been through on-campus interviewing as the interviewee and the performance of Ted would have given her pause. Being an effective recruiter requires one to be * on* constantly and have their senses programmed to be very aware all at once. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The good news for Ted here with respect to the interviewing is it does not sound like recruiting is his regular job; the company can opt to not send him on these trips again. The driving issue is horse of a different color. This is, to me, a fireable offense. The first time. He knowingly and negligently put the life of others at risk and refused to allow another person to intervene. End of story. What is the letter writer supposed to do – strong arm him out of the driver’s seat? (Yes, I know, call the police – it should not get to that) He needs to be gone from the company – post haste. And the company would have no issues terminating him. If he had caused an accident and killed or hurt someone – anyone by his behaviour – once the victims found that Ted was driving on business, the company would be one of the parties held liable. I had a family member killed by a drunk driver – (I know Ted was not drunk while behind the wheel) and I take paying attention when one is driving and not focusing on texting your bookie very seriously.

  61. SallytooShort*

    Honestly, if he was just hungover during interviews I would think that was a problem and very much not OK but maybe also give him a break. People do make mistakes and I’d be lying if I said I never once came to work a little hungover in my 20s (although never with anything important on or where outside people would see me.) But all his subsequent behavior just shows he has zero judgment and will not own up to his irresponsibility. This will happen again.

  62. Letter Writer*

    To all of those commenting-

    First off, thanks for the concern. I wasn’t sure if I was overreacting to the situation due to being on a work trip from hell, so your reactions are definitely helpful in that sense. God forbid something like this (or really, any number of the mistakes that Ted made) should happen again, I will definitely know how to handle it and stand up for myself.

    Just to note some background, Jane was in the car but was asleep for a large portion of the drive. I told Ted several times to put the phone down and that if he wants to use it to pull over and let me drive. He would laugh, put the phone away, and take it out again about twenty minutes later. I’m sure that I could have been more stern, but at that moment my thought process was mainly “what am I supposed to do? Grab the wheel and make him pull over?” Again, I’m sure there are hundreds of ways I could have handled this but in the moment I decided to tell him again, “Seriously- put it down. If you need me to send a text to someone or something just give me the cell phone and I’ll do it for you.”

    Please don’t interpret the following as any kind of excuse, but I feel as though some context about my company would be useful here. It has historically been a “boys club” to say the least. I was hired as part of an effort by one executive who is no longer at the company to diversify the workforce. I love my work but not my company for many of the reasons that female letter-writers have written about on AAM before.

    It has been a handful of months since this incident. It was the tail-end of our recruiting efforts, so I didn’t have to go on anymore trips with Ted. I haven’t spoken to his manager and neither has Jane, to my knowledge. Partly due to shock and partly due to not really knowing how to proceed, I suppose my plan was to bring this up when we begin our recruiting efforts next year. I would love to not have to go on the trip again, as it’s a busy time in my role and the trip itself is pretty daunting (even without Ted there), but I will definitely tell those in charge that he should not be permitted to go on any recruiting trips. My inkling is that he got pretty out of control because he, Jane, and I are of similar ages and perhaps he thought it more appropriate then? I still don’t quite understand.

    Thank you again for the advice. I know that I should have been more upfront and aggressive in my disapproval, but what’s done is done.

    1. Agnes*

      You expressed your disapproval out loud, multiple times, which is more than many of us would have managed in the moment. I don’t think you have anything to reproach yourself for.

      1. Jules the Third*


        Ted’s the one out of line. You did what was possible in the moment. Don’t blame yourself.

        It is VERY VERY hard to be a change agent. I was totally getting a ‘San Jose tech bro driving up to UC Davis’ image from your original letter, more of that from this post, and Ted fits the Tech Bro stereotype really well. This means there’s another layer of politics and that you face *serious* potential blowback from trying to bring this up to management.

        This changes what I would recommend, but post-Weinstein, I may be wrong. Pre-Weinstein, I’d say
        1) Meet with your manager specifically about him being hungover and how it impacted the interviews (sample script: Ted was really checked out of the interviews because of a late night getting blackout drunk. He didn’t participate in the discussion, we had really awkward pauses, and I think it probably looked bad to the interviewees.) This is job specific, and something I think might get attention – hard drinking is fine until it impacts the work…
        2) Mention to your manager in this discussion / his manager in passing *if* that’s easy that you never want to drive with Ted again because he texts while he drives and you like being alive. If it comes up as a serious proposal, give it a serious refusal, but until then, play it lightly.

        Post-Weinstein, you *might* be able to have a serious discussion with your boss about ‘text + drive = higher chance of accident = bad company PR’ and get some protection from the ‘party pooper’ blowback. And it is important that some people in the company know that Ted is a dangerous driver, if only so that they can avoid giving him tasks that require driving.

        But this is actually a hard situation, because of the gender politics, and I (45ish-yo female MBA / professional with a Fortune 100 company) would not blame you if you continued to say nothing to management until they tried to put you back in personal danger. If they do want you to ever ride with Ted again, you have to say something, he *is* dangerous. It will help you push back then if you’ve already had a frank discussion with your / his manager, but there is risk of blowback.

        I have some female friends who’ve tried navigating the SJ tech scene. It’s *ugly*, even for established stars with advanced degrees. Good luck, and Tech Bro culture is Not Your Fault.

        1. Oranges*

          Aaaaand that’s why I’m not going to be in that scene ever. I just don’t have the ability to be in that environs. I’m grateful to those who are though.

    2. SallytooShort*

      It’s easy to say in retrospect what should be done but you acted appropriately. HE is the bad actor here. Not you.

    3. Snark*

      “I know that I should have been more upfront and aggressive in my disapproval, but what’s done is done.”

      Nah. As others have said – and as I wrongfully implied to the contrary with crappy wording – you did what you could, when you could. Consider this reassurance that you’re justified and on solid ground being upfront and aggressive if confronted with the situation some other time, but don’t whip on yourself.

    4. CM*

      I would tell someone ASAP. You could explain that you didn’t quite know how to handle it at the time, and since the recruiting season was over you weren’t sure if it was worth bringing up, but it’s been on your mind and you feel you should tell someone before planning for the next recruiting season starts. I think the longer you wait, the harder it will be to bring it up and the more you’ll be questioned about why you waited so long.

      1. CBH*

        CM I agree with this. I think it will look like hearsay if you wait until next year’s recruitment. In addition, reporting it sooner than later, you will have the school’s account of things too. Surely the recruits were not the only one’s to see Ted stumbling drunk. If your seniors do not believe you then see if there is a way you can do the recruiting without having to work with Ted again – take separate cars, conduct separate interviews. My bring it up when you have a one on one meeting with a senior / HR about another topic – say you weren’t sure how to handle things and the more you thought about it you would like to discuss this situation. The more you stay silent, the more Ted will think he got away with his behavior. I can just picture Ted next year – Roadtrip with OP and Jane at my old college again, let the good times roll, a few days “off” from work. Ted needs to be taught, maybe coached, that he is in the real world now where partying all night and suffering through class/ work doesn’t cut it anymore.

      2. JennyAnn*

        Yeah, I’ve got to agree on this. It’s such a huge issue that waiting to the next recruiting season probably isn’t an option. Explain that you’ve been struggling with how to handle this (and I definitely would be struggling myself, so I get it) and before plans start going into place for the next set of recruiting events you want management to be aware of how Ted behaved last time.

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        I completely agree that this is a major issue enough that it is meaningful to bring up at any point, and that it’s much better to bring it up now than closer to when recruiting season begins. Your information and concerns will be much stronger and more likely to be taken seriously. At this point, there is no longer a “perfect” time to bring it up – don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

        This is also important because: if management is planning on sending Ted on more recruiting trips, the decision/arrangement to do that will probably be made months before the trip actually happens, so what seems like “when we begin our recruiting efforts next year” for you, someone at the employee level could be too late for the higher level planning version of “final plans for recruiting efforts have been made and budgeted for.” You don’t want to risk somebody being inclined to minimize your concerns due to being swayed, even subconsciously, by its presenting them with inconvenient decisions.

    5. Natalie*

      Given the atmosphere, do you have any sense of whether your company might blow off the hangover part, but take the driving part seriously, or vice versa? If so, it might make sense to downplay the part you think they won’t take as seriously and emphasize the part you think they will.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I definitely think it’s worth mentioning before they start making plans for those recruiting trips again. You can say something like “I wasn’t really sure how to handle this, but upon reflection, I feel like you need to know about X, Y, and Z that happened when Ted, Jane, and I went to FratDouche University last year.”

      And don’t beat yourself up. You handled the situation as well as you could in the moment and you have some good suggestions and scripts if you ever find yourself in a similar situation in the future.

    7. CAinUK*

      OP I think you could/should still go to HR or his manager. If you need a script for why you are bringing this up so long after-the-fact, you can say “I wanted to bring something up that happened a couple months ago. I wasn’t sure if it was worth reporting at the time, but I’m flagging it now ahead of recruitment season.” And then just outline the facts.

    8. Squirrel Tooth Alice*

      It’s so hard to struggle past the perceived impoliteness of getting aggressive with someone who’s acting dangerously (it gets easier as you get older and have fewer effs to give), and you obviously did the best you could in the moment. Some people are just bad decision-makers, and you have to accept never really understanding their motives.

    9. Observer*

      Your background explains A LOT.

      You were in a difficult situation and I really do understand why you acted as you did. Don’t beat yourself up over it. You might want to do some role playing, even in your head, so that if something like this comes up again (hopefully not!) you’ll have a better shot at being more effective.

      I also think that even though this was a few months ago, you still should go to your supervisor, HR and Ted’s supervisor. Given the total lack of judgement and decency he showed, he still presents a threat to the company.

      Also, your company may need to do some reputational and relationship repairs over this trip. Ted’s behavior at the college town is no secret. If if gets back to the wrong (or right, depending on your point of view), some people might not be interested in working with you on your next recruiting trip. So, whoever deals with recruitin needs to know about this now, not at a point when they would normally start working on this.

    10. Millennial Lawyer*

      I totally understand where you’re coming from, OP. I think you should talk to someone as soon as possible – next year people will be wondering why you didn’t say anything. At this point, even if it’s a few months, you can just say “I’d like to talk about something that happened a few months ago that’s still been concerning me.”

    11. The Expendable Redshirt*

      You’ve got some good skills now if (gosh forbid) this should happen again. Life is a learning experience.

      What Ted did is NOT okay!

    12. Sam Carter*

      You addressed what you could in the moment and should be proud of that. I agree with other comments suggesting that you talk to managers in your company, but since you describe it as a “boys club,” there unfortunately may be a certain degree of tolerance for this type of behavior (speaking from my own experience here). There may be another approach (admittedly a long shot) to ensure that similar behavior does not occur next year.

      Depending on the size, strength, and influence of Greek life at your university, you could might be able to report this to your Greek life office or to his chapter’s local alumni advisors. I’m assuming you are both alumni of IFC and NPC chapters. Although Ted’s primary purpose was to represent your company, he also represents his chapter and your university. Presumably, his chapter has some sort of standards for behavior when wearing letters or clearly indicating one’s membership (drinking openly with active known active members in a public bar, preceding an official campus event should count) and Ted may have crossed that line as well. If you report to a Greek life office, they may be able to post guidelines regarding formal alumni visits at campus events. They are unlikely to do so after one negative occurrence, but your experience could be one of many reported by various individuals. Chapter advisors are more concerned with national brand standards than the personal repuation of any one particular member (ie Ted) and would likely appreciate you speaking up so they can faciliate additional programming for the upcoming class of graduates.

    13. Anon for this one*

      OP – I’ve been the lowly associate attorney in the car with a senior partner that speeds and emails from his phone. I’ve offered to write the message for him and him scoff and say he does this all the time and it’s fine. It’s a really powerless position. I certainly wasn’t going to be able to “make” him do anything. I just tried to avoid being in situations where I’d have to ride with him. I’d find an excuse to need my own car or convince him to let me drive so he could continue preparing for an argument or something. Don’t let people tell you how they would have done it different. Sometimes you just find yourself at someone else’s mercy.

    14. AKchic*

      A lot of us have been in similar positions. The “token girl in the Boys Club” scenario.

      I want you to know that you did what you could with the resources you had at the time. You can’t go back in time and change anything, so don’t beat yourself up with recriminations, what-ifs, or if-I-onlys.

      I think that you should go ahead and document everything that happened on the trip. This letter is a great starting point. Expand on anything if you need to, add minor details here and there if you left anything out. Detail the entire trip. Keep a copy for yourself on a non-work computer or cloud device. You may need it.
      Email it to yourself.
      Then, go ahead and let your boss know. Tell them you weren’t sure if you should bring it up, but the more you thought about it, the more you were concerned about the company image, and the potential harm Ted’s behavior drinking that night and his hungover behavior the next day could have impacted the company image; as well as his dangerous driving could have both endangered you and Jane, as well as anyone else on the road, plus opened the company up to liability. Keep framing it back to company liability and image issues. That is generally what managers/executives respond to – how the company and bottom line is affected. Ted’s behavior could serious damage the company, and if unchecked, could hurt them in the future should he continue acting that way.

      Then, let the chips fall where they may. Document when you reported the incident. If there is any retaliation, you have everything documented in case you need it.

      Good luck.

    15. Oranges*

      Whenever I see those types of companies I always think, “You are automatically narrowing your candidate pool by ~50% because you want a “bro/old-boys culture”, congrats on being bad at math/life/business. Excuse me while I try to GTFO.”

      1. zora*

        Word. And I’d say by way more than 50% because they probably don’t want very many men of color or gay men either, or any men who don’t fit in their bro-ey culture. It’s so mindnumbingly stupid

      2. Jules the Third*

        well, 20%, because the female / black / hispanic portion of the candidate pool is unfortunately small (most are ok with east or south Asian men). The problem includes the end companies, but there’s deeper problems in US society that affect it too.

        1. zora*

          Oh, good call, I forgot we were talking about the candidate pool, not the whole adult population. Interesting.

        2. Observer*

          On the other hand, as zora points out, there are plenty of people who are not female who would also not be a “good culture fit”. You know, like anyone who is not quite the right shade, or who has an accent that’s not quite right etc.

          1. Tiny Soprano*

            Bros are pretty good at even weeding out other pasty dudes who aren’t bros. Somehow I doubt you’d find any wholesome dad-types or gentle cat-loving boys or worldly egalitarian grandpas there even if they were both white and straight… So the bros end up surrounded by people who not only look like them but think like them too. And the cycle continues.

            1. Oranges*

              The Ciiiiiircle of douche-bros.

              Exactly. I had the same issue of “well, women are under-represented” after I hit submit but then I thought how much of the population is made up of bros or people who can work with them and so I left it.

    16. Laura H*

      I don’t have much to add, but having the calendar dates that the incident occurred on would be helpful-it frames things timewise, and could be useful to have that frame of reference.

      Address the issue both ASAP and when recruitment rolls around again. People forget and addressing it ASAP and as the season starts accomplishes two things- it may shed light that this is an aspect that needs addressing and preventing. And it provides a learning opportunity for the company and its employees- especially if it’s a lot of folks’ first foray into the professional working world.

      But then the ball is in their court. Whether or not it’s used isn’t your responsibility. Good on you for speaking up as you did and thanks for writing in! And good luck LW!

    17. Close Bracket*

      “I was hired as part of an effort by one executive who is no longer at the company to diversify the workforce”
      Oh, blech. I’m sorry. So you’re looking for a new job, right? ;-)

    18. Brisvegan*

      Thanks for popping in with this update, LW.

      Ugghhh to the boys club culture of your company. It definitely creates another layer of difficulty for you. I have seen this sort of organisation and worked briefly in a place where the rugby bros were kings, so I can imagine that your workplace is not always comfortable, especially if some of the boys club see you as only hired for diversity, rather than capability.

      Unlike some others, I can see giving some feedback at next recruiting time as a good option. You probably have a good idea of what timing will work in your company culture. Giving feedback near to the next recruitment drive might work better if you think you have missed a window for complaint after the trip. Pre-recruitment discussion may be accepted as being a more organic feedback rather than you being seen by the boys club as a whiny, wowser chick who should have complained earlier if there was really a problem. Only you can know if a complaint now or later would get more traction.

      I guess the upside is that Ted actually publically represented part of the values of the company (frat boys/boys club evolution). At least those from the college town/industry/student cohort who have heard the rumours will know that your company is actually likely to be a boys club for which frat boy behaviour will be tolerated, if that’s likely to be the case.

      Good luck! You clearly have good perceptions of professional norms that will stand you in good stead in the future. You did your best in a difficult situation. Though it would have been better to mention Ted’s behaviour soon after the trip, it must have been hard to know what to do. You are doing your best to address it by mentioning it when you can.

    19. lurker bee*

      OP, you did your best, repeatedly, in a terrible situation. Moreover, you are evaluating the situation to learn from it and to decide on next steps in communicating about it with supervisors. Let’s hope that those you end up speaking with are more receptive and alarmed than the company culture may indicate.

      You mention the upcoming recruitment season as being during a busy time at work for you. If by chance you end up being part of a recruiting team anyway, and if Ted is still around and is on your team, you have every right to decline to be in the same vehicle with him. (Not great with car nausea, I’m sorry for that. Any chance that flying would be a reasonable alternative?)

    20. Stone Cold Bitch*

      As someone who works in fire and rescue I very much get the problem of being the token female in the boys club.

      My guess is Ted did what he did because he thinks he is invincible (very common among young men behind the wheel of a car). You did what you could in that situation, he is responsible for his own actions.
      The truth is, many people don’t realise how much looking at a phone will impact your ability to drive, and that is without a hangover. I am glad that you returned without an accident. Ted knowingly endangered your life, Jane’s life and everyone else who was on that road.

      I am in a European country, and had he been caught driving like that by police here, he would have lost his drivers license for several months.

  63. Hesjustakid*

    Sounds like he needs coaching and a couple years under his belt to get through the party stage. The driving needs to be addressed, the drinking depends on the industry. Most people will grow out of that behavior in a couple years. My first job out of college it was nothing for people to show up hungover a couple times a week but eventually you grow out of it, or get promoted to upper management. (For clarification it was a large fortune 500 company with over 200,000 employees)

    1. Squirrel Tooth Alice*

      Please don’t excuse his behavior based on perceived youth. He’s a grown man with a job and should be judged based on that.

    2. Snark*

      He is, from what OP told us, somewhere around 24-25. That is an adult, my friend. People I know have commanded infantry companies, raised children, commited crimes and gone to jail, purchased homes and cars, and finished advanced degrees at that age. I’m well aware that lots of people in that age group have the luxury of imagining that they’re still “in the party stage” and think regularly showing up to your Fortune 500 job hungover is something that needs to be grown out of, and that usually correlates with being on the higher end of privelege. But it’s not reality, particularly for people of less charmed circumstances, whose bosses would tell them to take their apron off and get the hell out if they showed up to work visibly hungover.

      1. RVA Cat*

        ^^^^^ THIS!!!!!
        Ted is on the continuum of entitled behavior that leads to outright criminals like Brock Turner.

      2. AKchic*

        At 25 I had a career and 4 kids. I was working with addicts who felt that their substance use was okay because they were “young” and just “living it up”. Some of these “young” people were nearly 60 with grandchildren, in prison for murder because they were fighting over drug money.

        Age is generally just a number, but one we do need to be cognizant of. We need to stop adulterating our children and stop infantilizing our adults.

      3. Hesjustakid*

        I can assure you privilege has nothing to do with it. I get it he was a year out of college and was in a frat must have been some rich kid. I went to college joined a frat. I came from a farm family either since I was old enough to reach the clutch on a tractor. Most of those that were younger and doing as I described were from blue collar families and had gotten an engineering degree. Suddenly you’re fresh out of school and all that hard with paid off with more money than you’ve ever seen in a check and no wife or kids to support so yes we cut loose but it wasn’t just the younger ones it went up to the corporate level. I’ve worked restaurants, steel mills, plastics factories, ship yards, and farms seen it happen at all of them. Some of the worst came to work still hammered stories came from guys in the military. It’s got nothing to do with privilege or how much money daddy had. I’m not saying what he did was right but most of the comments seem to be coming off some pretty high horses. Apparently no one else ever did anything out of line early in their careers.

        1. Observer*

          You don’t see the difference between getting drunk and a bit hungover and getting BLACKOUT drunk in a scenario where being drunk at all presents problems (drinking with the people you need to evaluate the next day is a HUGE issue), being actively problematic at work the next day and then driving in a stupid and dangerous manner?

          This is not just “out of line” nor is it just a matter of “kids being kids”. In fact, you make the point yourself – the guys who got plastered, kept on getting plastered. And they keep doing it because people keep on making the same stupid excuses.

          If you’re old enough to hold down a job, you’re old enough to know better.

    3. Observer*

      Firstly, NO he is not “just a kid”. He’s an ADULT with a job that he needs to do.

      Also, it’s one thing to show up a bit hung over to work when you’re not significantly affecting others. It is a totally different thing when your drinking by itself could pose a problem, and when your hangover causes you to totally mess up your job, and create a hugely bad impression of your company.

      And it’s on another planet when you drive like an irresponsible jerk with absolutely no regard for safety. If you are old enough to hold a license, you are old enough to know better. If that’s the only way you can drive when you are hung over, then you need to not drive when you are hung over- which may mean not getting hung over. It doesn’t matter what age you are!

    4. Millennial Lawyer*

      I was a summer associate at a firm where the culture was that a lot of the younger lawyers stay out late and drink and party and make jokes about how they are a little hungover the next day. That’s not the issue. The issue is that it went so far as he was a) BLACKOUT drunk b) it had an impact on his ability to work and how applicants viewed the company and c) he exhibited unsafe behavior. That’s completely different.

    5. Plague of frogs*

      If he’s just a kid, he shouldn’t be doing adult things, like driving and working. He can’t do them well.

      1. BarkusOrlyus*

        “If he’s just a kid, he shouldn’t be doing adult things”
        Exactly! You can’t have it both ways.

  64. Student*

    AAM – any chance you could provide some scripted language about how to talk to a manager regarding a suspected hangover’s impact on work the next day?

    I struggle to figure out how to effectively tell a manager, “This guy’s work was way below par for a specific day, and I’ve got reason to believe it’s because he was hung over. Since that’s preventable, could you ask him not to do that again?”

    I get caught up when managers either take this too seriously or not seriously enough. I don’t want to get caught up in a manager’s concerns over whether my colleague is an alcoholic because that turns into “oh poor guy needs our understanding and support and maybe you should track his alcoholic intake for me and chart it”. I don’t want my manager going “Eyyy, you just wish you were invited to the party! Don’t be a stick in the mud, happens to all of us, boys will be boys!” because no, it does not happen to us all. I want to deal with the performance/impact of work issue , and leave management to do whatever else they want without me (whether that’s suggesting my co-worker get treatment or heading to happy hour with him). Management tends to get stuck on the “alcohol” issue instead of “job performance” issue and never quite make it back around to that.

    1. AKchic*

      Boss, Coworker was underperforming today and had X symptoms (I would list the symptoms, including reeked of stale alcohol, bloodshot eyes, nauseated, etc.) today and did not meet the daily quota, putting our department behind. This has happened on X date (and enter in all of the dates for the last 10-30 days, depending on how long you really want to track). He mentioned he was hung over (only if he did mention it), and mentioned going drinking last night (only if he did mention doing this). What can we do to minimize the lack of productivity for the department when this happens?

      You can’t require a person to abstain from a legal substance off the clock. However, you can point out that their off-the-clock recreations are impacting their productivity. Put it back on the manager to manage. It isn’t your responsibility to nanny your coworker’s drinking habits, and it actually not legal to try (especially if the coworker is diagnosed with a substance use disorder).

      If you want to read up on any of it and you’re in the US, I would recommend 42 CFR Part 2 for privacy laws regarding substance use disorders. HIPAA will also fall in here, but 42 CFR is more stringent.
      Also, employment law would follow, as well as Disability Law since addiction is a medical/behavioral issue and can fall under Disability Law (depending on severity).
      I would also fall back on the “I am not a lawyer” and “I am not his doctor”. Just keep repeating “This is causing a work problem”. If you are working with machinery and it could cause a safety issue, remind them of OSHA safety standards and that since you’ve reported the problem and if an accident occurs while he’s hung over and there’s an investigation and it is discovered that he has substances in his system, you will not lie or otherwise hide that you have reported this issue previously.

      1. Natalie*

        HIPAA does not apply to his employer unless they are somehow also his healthcare provider, or if they self-insure.

    2. LCL*

      You can’t and shouldn’t be the hangover police. You can tell your boss what symptoms you have observed, and how it has affected Joaquin’s performance. And tell your boss you don’t expect and don’t want people who are sick to come to work, they should be home resting.

      It is up to boss to talk to Joaquin, and tell him that if he feels that bad he should call in sick. It will be apparent soon enough with Joaquin’s leave balance and other performance issues if he has a problem. But what if he works with dangerous machinery, the reader may be asking. In those cases, management has a plan to deal with the employee, and it starts with getting management’s attention if Joaquin is getting away with things because he works odd shifts or in a remote location.

      It is amazing to me that it is considered the height of boundary violation to diagnose people by what they post online, but it is OK to decide they are drunk, hungover, or on drugs if you work with them in person. Report the symptoms, management has or should have procedures to deal with any suspicions in a way that won’t open the company up to a lawsuit. (My personal experience is that I have sinus/inner ear difficulties and an old injury that can cause me to have the occasional staggered or crooked step.)

  65. Anonymous Poster*

    What an awful situation to get stuck in! I’m sorry that this all happened, it sounds awful.

    I’d suggest practicing what you’d do next time you encounter this situation, or something similar. Hopefully you won’t, but think through, “if person does this, then I will say the following…” or whatever is appropriate. That might help with the driving problems, and the interviews, and whatever else might pop up in the future. It’s helped me quite a bit because I (like many others) ‘freeze’ in the moment and can’t think through what the best response is because I’m still in panic mode.

    It’s not a slight against you for being similarly affected, it’s incredibly normal.

    Definitely talk with your manager about this. Perhaps they want to bring it up with Ted or Ted’s management, but it provides a lot of context for what happened and that you care not only about your safety (most companies care about your safety too, for sure), but also the reputation hit the company took by Ted’s bad actions on campus. Who knows what was said and done while he was blacked out!

    This way they can try and put out whatever fires are out there now thanks to Ted.

    This stinks so much, best of luck.

  66. Shireee*

    I worked with a Ted type. This included not only stealing my codeine cough syrup but proceeding to drink the whole bottle while at work. He was a assistant manager and cocerns brought to management were dismissed as “guys being guys” behavior. After I left I found out he was later fired for embezzling. Op I give you props for how you dealt with this. I have a feeling Ted will be his own undoing. I’m hoping you don’t have to endure another trip with him again.

    1. BarkusOrlyus*

      Someone stole prescription medicine from you and used it to get all messed up at work and that’s “guys being guys?” Must be nice to be a guy!

      1. Shireee*

        The manager was “buddies” with said person. I left shortly after and other employees had reported their medications were missing as well.

  67. voyager1*

    My first (civilian) job out of college my boss was just like Ted. Only this was back before texting so minus the cell phone. She was also a bit older closer to 30, married and had a child about 3 maybe at the time.

    Anyway I had to travel with her a couple of times. She would go out every night and get totally lit. She even joked about it.

    Also same thing about the driving too.

    On one trip I went with a different coworker and the topic of our manager came up. The person we were meeting with said “oh yeah when Rey comes up here her old sorority self comes out.”

    After I left that company she got fired for one of these kind of epsoides. I still know folks from that time in my life and they told me that Rey pretty much hit rock bottom and cleaned her self up. Ted needs to be careful or that could be his fate too.

  68. EvilQueenRegina*

    Imagine this letter coming in, from the candidates’ point of view:

    Dear AAM,

    I recently went for an interview at what I had thought was a company I really wanted to work for. I was called in to meet with two people called Ted and Robin. While Robin was very interested in what I had to say and asked me lots of questions, Ted appeared disengaged and at times half asleep, didn’t really ask me anything even when Robin was prompting him to, and didn’t seem interested in anything at all unless it was on his phone, which wasn’t on silent and went off at frequent intervals, which distracted me while I was trying to answer Robin’s questions. Robin did say something to him at one point, but he just said he hadn’t noticed. By the end of the interview, I was sure that Ted was hungover.

    I didn’t know what to do, so I just carried on with the interview in the moment. But if the company offered me a job, I would have serious doubts about accepting. I felt it was really unprofessional to show up for an interview hungover. My dad said I would have been justified in getting up and walking out as soon as I realised he was hungover, and my mum suggested that I put in a formal complaint to the company. Would either of those courses of action be justified in this situation?

    Yours sincerely,

    A. Candidate

    I bet there would be some responses to that advising to complain. It must have looked really bad to the candidates seeing Ted like that and I can see it putting them off wanting to work there. And that’s without taking the driving into account. Ted’s manager does need to know.

  69. char*

    I once had to ride out to a work site with a coworker who was speeding and texting the whole time he was driving. But in my case, he was my superior and the car was his personal car. I was terrified, but I didn’t feel like I had the standing to ask him to stop. So I just stuck it out and then resolved never to accept a ride from him again. (I don’t work with him anymore, thankfully.)

  70. Megpie71*

    LW, if it’s any consolation, you’re not the only person out there to have been caught in a bad situation with a colleague driving. I was in a near-crash situation at one time myself (a self-described “excellent driver[1]” was speeding down a winding country road while somewhat less than at peak alertness. I was in the rear passenger seat and fortunately alerted the driver to the fact we were drifting out of our lane) and it really didn’t improve my perception of the (potential, at that point[2]) co-worker in question.

    For what it’s worth, I do believe passengers have the right, and indeed the duty, to point out when a driver isn’t driving safely, and this applies at all times. It’s one thing to take risks when you’re the only person in the car, but it’s quite another to be taking them when you have other people in there. If that makes me a poor passenger (which it probably does) so be it. I get one shot at life, and I’m not going to let some other durn fool risk it for me if I can prevent it. Contrariwise, if I’m driving and my passengers don’t feel safe in the car with me, well, that doesn’t reflect well on me, does it?

    Ted was a durn fool, showed very poor judgement, and deserves for that to follow him back to work.

    [1] For values of “excellent” which translated to “aggressively drives as though he’s in the Grand Prix or Rally championships at all times and in all conditions” rather than “safe and dependable”.
    [2] Given I’d already decided I didn’t want to work for their company anyway, the poor driving just put the tin lid on my “not interested”.

  71. mid-twenties traveler*

    this is what they mean when they say carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre man.

  72. Menacia*

    My company has mandatory safety meetings every week. I think in part to make safety the norm instead of something to be ignored or scoffed at. Recently I prevented someone from doing something that was unsafe and held firmly to it even though he got a ladder even after I told him (and the guy who helped him get the ladder) not to do so. I am not the manager of either, we are coworkers, but I do take safety very seriously. In the case of the OP, I would have been pissed if someone put me in harm’s way and insisted they quit using their phone or pull over. We have to get past the feeling of being afraid to do the right thing because it’s not the popular thing…but people don’t make it easy. I agree the OP has to speak up about the situation because it was NOT okay!

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