Monday, March 11, 2013

Love and St. Patrick’s Day St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and it is a holiday that was encrypted into my DNA. I was born and raised on the North Side of Chicago, a city with one of the largest Irish American populations in the country. So when you are given the last name of McShane in Chicago, your cultural comrades in arms number into the hundreds of thousands. Consider green your favorite color. On St. Patrick’s Day, it is the color of the Chicago river, the color of your clothes and the color of beer, the beverage of choice on this Irish day of celebration. So it humbles me to tell my listeners that, last St. Patrick’s Day, I was arrested and charged with a DWI. Driving While Intoxicated. I was jailed for the evening, picked up, and spent about five thousand dollars in legal and court fees over the next six months. As a result of this incredible lapse in judgement, I lost my job. My day job, outside of my writing and counseling, was working with a Hospice. I enjoyed that job as much as any I’ve had in the last thirty years. And because I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t see the clients from the Hospice. I was let go. Throughout the following summer, I have been looking for employment. But because I had a DWI, any job involving driving has been exempt. And, when prospective employers do a background check on my qualifications, the DWI always shows up. I understand how people, when seeing that on my driving record, think “this guy’s got a problem. He’s not worth hiring.” The courses that I participated in as part of my sentencing involved chilling statistics on the deaths, injuries and accidents that occur through drunk driving. Stories from parents that have lost their children to drunk drivers numbered in the thousands. In one class, I met three parents who suffered this unspeakable loss. Their words brought not only tears but perspective that resonated in the hollow of my heart. One day of binging in celebration could’ve cost me my life and the life of another. Instead of you listening to these words on a Sunday morning, I could’ve have easily been writing them from prison. It cost me my job, my savings, a great deal of my personal reputation, and my future. I know that you hear these messages from everywhere. I know that, like me, many of these stories seem removed from your reality. But right now, my friends, you are hearing the voice of one that dodged the bullet, that for the grace of god would be another statistic of death and tragedy on the California highways. One more guy that drank too much, got in his car, and died. I know that this space is supposed to be one of motivation and insight. Those of you who have listened or read my stuff over the years have come to expect something a little less morose. But if I any of you can pause before you take a drink and drive a car, consider your self motivated to save the life of another, including yours. Consider yourself holding the insight of consideration for the safety of yourself and thousands of others with whom you share the road. If you drive, stay sober. If you drink, stay home.

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