Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The New York Times wrote an article yesterday about high-functioning alcoholics. As if it's a problem to be a high-functioning anything. I wish the alcoholics at the firm were high-functioning. The difficulty is that they're low-functioning, sober or not, and the fact that they also happen to be alcoholics is just icing on the cake.

I don't know what the point of labeling is. If someone's high-functioning, why is it anyone's business what they're doing in the six hours a week they're not in the office? I think we've become an overly paternalistic society. It's the end result that matters, not the process. Being a lawyer -- or a doctor, or an astronaut, or a parent, or anything else mentioned in the article -- isn't a test of moral goodness or purity. If someone needs a bottle of gin to get through the day, good for them -- as long as the work doesn't suffer. When the work suffers, then of course it's a problem. But it's a problem whether they're an alcoholic or not. And that's when we stop calling them high-functioning. High-functioning alcoholic is a nonsense term. No one's writing about high-functioning diabetics and how we need to get them help before they eat too many cookies.

I actually wish we had more alcoholics at the firm, if I'm being really honest. Alcohol dulls the senses, dulls the pain. More alcohol and they won't realize what we're doing to them, they won't care that the document review is taking eighteen months and that they're spending years of their lives in basements reading lease agreements. More alcohol and they won't notice when we cut their salaries 10% without telling them, or when we cut health benefits. More alcohol and they'll think they're having a grand old time at our partner-associate cocktail parties while everyone who's sober realizes they're actually torture. More alcohol and they'll sleep in the office, just like we want them to. And it's not like we don't have custodial staff to clean up vomit and incorrectly-placed urine. So I say bring on the high-functioning alcoholics, the more the better, and we'll not only tolerate them but embrace them. In fact, I'll trade the low-functioning pregnant women for them, any day of the week.

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Bloody genius...
Very bad taste.
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