Every server and bartender knows that we should not be serving drinks to people who are already drunk. We have all heard horror stories about how restaurants have lost their liquor license because someone was over-served and then went off driving drunk into the night. Well, here’s a story from Oklahoma that is all kinds of fucked up.
A man walks into a bar and by the time he leaves, he has bought six Miller Lite beers and two alcoholic drinks. The bartenders know him as a regular and they also know that he walks to the bar and then walks home, so they don’t have to consider him driving home drunk. The man is named Sammy Ford. After Ford leaves, he is hit by not one, but two cars as he tries to cross a street. The first driver, an 18-year old girl, gets scared and goes home where her parents call the police. Another man also hits Ford but he stays at the scene. Sadly, Ford died. When it came time to file charges, who do you think the prosecutors went after? The little girl who just ran over a man in the street and then went home? Nope. How about the man who ran over him a second time? Nope. Let’s see, who else could they charge with this man’s death? Hey, I know, what about the two bartenders? Yeah, charge them! So that happened and now two servers are facing charges for the death of a man.
All together now: fuck that!
Okay, if the two servers knew that the man wasn’t planning on driving, doesn’t that take some of the responsibility off of them? Also, we can only stop serving if someone appears to be drunk, right? What if this Mr. Ford guy had a liver like a champion and six beers and two cocktails didn’t even seem to phase him? How much does Mr. Ford weigh and how much does it take for him to get drunk? Shouldn’t the customer take some responsibility? What about those total lightweights who drink one wine spritzer and end up getting sloppy drunk? (I’ve heard people like that exist…) How is a server supposed to know that we shouldn’t be giving a customer like that a second drink? Also, do we know that Mr. Ford drank all of those drinks? Isn’t it possible that he was one of those guys who bought a couple of beers for his friend at the bar? If he was such a regular, it doesn’t seem that out of the question? Is there video footage of him drinking very single drink that was on his bill? And even if there is, if he seems sober and he’s not driving, how could anyone suspect that he would try to cross a busy intersection by crawling though it?
The bartenders have attorneys and only time will tell what will become of their fate. It just seems like a terrible accident to me and no one’s fault. Well, the girl who hit him with her car and then went home certainly didn’t help the situation and neither did the second guy who hit him with his car. Maybe we can all agree that the bartenders gave him plenty to drink, but if they knew he was walking home, I can’t see how it’s so much their fault. Servers are not psychics. We don’t know what is going to happen to people after they leave our section. If we could see the future, do you think any of us would be wearing a goddamn apron for a living? I am not debating that what happened to Mr. Ford wasn’t awful. It was. It is. A man is dead because he had too much to drink and made some bad decisions, but if prosecutors are looking for someone to blame, there are plenty of people who may bear some responsibility. I bet at least one of Mr. Ford’s family members have said before, “Gee, Sammy drinks a lot. We should talk to him about that before he gets himself in trouble.” Or maybe there was someone at the bar who told him, “Aww, don’t go yet, Sammy. Have a shot with me.” Most of all, Mr. Ford had some responsibility. If he was still alive, what charges would he be facing? Attempted murder on himself? Public intoxication? Walking while intoxicated?
Overall, it’s a sad situation but I hope the servers are not the ones who pay the price. Putting two bartenders in jail is not going to bring this man back to the living. It may send a message to servers everywhere to cut people off a little bit sooner, but what are we going to do when we try that and someone tells us, “Oh, I’m not drunk at all. I always drink this many beers. Besides, I live two blocks away and I’ll give you my keys so you’ll know I won’t get behind the wheel of a car.” Chances are, we’ll say, “Oh, since you’re not driving, sure. Here’s another beer.”