First off, word to you for naming this and being open about your struggle. You absolutely didn’t have to be and this isn’t easy to be public about and I respect that. I hope this is a safe and conducive journey for you and it makes people think earnestly about this subject.

I don’t know how to adequately respond to this in a succinct manner because for one, I ramble, but also because I feel like there’s a lot going on. I worked back of house in restaurants and breweries for three years in “Beer City USA” (AKA Grand Rapids, Michigan) and it was like alcohol culture on top of alcohol culture, it was so bad. I am not a sober alcoholic as I’ve just never drank and thus never struggled with substance abuse or addiction so I don’t want to speak for or disrespect that experience as mine is different, but it was definitely hard connecting as it always has been being 15–25 and a non-drinker. People tend to think I think I’m better than them or have moral values behind my sobriety, but I am just horrifically anxious, too poor, and uninterested in the affects of alcohol for a myriad of reasons, a lot of them cultural and gendered, a lot of them just personality and preferential. Regardless, I take no issue with other people drinking, but I take issue with the idea that work culture and camaraderie should constantly revolve around alcohol. I’m OK enough with being aloof and on my own that working at restaurants and not going out with everyone after or sitting at the bar for some beers didn’t bother me but it’s still not healthy for anyone, whether the coworkers being isolated or ostracized or the people encouraged to constantly drink. It would get hard when I felt disrespected or pressured (especially because, as a young woman, I have a pretty strict policy of getting mad if people disrespect my “no”) or people became antagonistic or very defensive because they felt I was judging them. I now work at a nonprofit. My department is small and there’s no pressure to drink and our jobs require little schmoozing, at least of the “Go to the bar and drink ALL THE TIME” kind. It’s a more “coffee shops and lunches” kind of a gig. Which, as much as I did like my old jobs & the people, I am definitely grateful for.

So yes, problems with work cultures and alcoholism, absolutely. But I definitely saw it from a working class perspective as a young woman of color from a poor/lower middle class family, not that of the tech world and start-ups. The paragraph where you mention that tech workers being of note for forging vacations and workout, emailing while on their downtime, and skipping meals out of business was foreign because that’s just your typical day for working class folk. That’s just what you do, not just for the first few months or year of your start up, but for decades, which of course adds to stressors AKA reasons to drink. So, I think that this struggle and the way to address it among different demographics is of course going to be unique to them.


Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email:

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