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Letter to the Editor: I was a very lucky musician

For many of my early adult years, I worked as a professional musician in bars, clubs, and casinos. And I drank more than my share. Lots of drinks were purchased for me. But truthfully, I bought a lot for myself, too. And like a lot of people who drank a lot, I would say I didn’t have a drinking problem. I kept no booze at home. And on most nights off I didn’t go out or if I did, I didn’t go where alcohol was served. If I didn’t have a gig for a week or two I never even thought about having a drink. When I retired from music, I quit drinking.

But, what I was, was a very lucky drinker, because in all those years I was never in an accident and I was never stopped by the police. I was very lucky. This was all before the world changed its attitude (thank goodness) about drinking and driving. This was before MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers). Sometimes my drive was only a mile or two. Sometimes it was 20 or 30 miles. I was very lucky. Sometimes where I played, I’d get a room and all I had to do was walk to my room. I was very lucky.

I would like to believe I made some of my luck myself. Usually on a 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. gig, of which there were many, I usually had my last drink during my midnight break, or maybe just a cup of coffee.

And I always tried to be an “aware drinking driver.” I knew that an erratic driving behavior would call attention to my driving so I did what I could to avoid anything that might allow me to drift or break the lines of the lane I was in. I was successful at it. I was very lucky.

Having said all this, I need to make this additional point. I was extra lucky. How? In all of those trips where I did as much as I believed I could do to control my future, legally and medically, I completely ignored one element — any unforeseen misfortune. I was very lucky. I had none. There are a couple of things that are notorious for being on the highway around 2 a.m.: deer and drunk drivers. I was very lucky. No matter how careful or smart I thought I was, all it would have taken to end my life would have been that one drunk driver crossing over into my lane or that deer running across the road. But, like I keep saying, I was very lucky.

So what is the point of this old man’s rant about how he used to drink and drive (of which I am not proud) and how he came out unscathed, and how he also never hurt anybody doing it? Wear your damn mask. You may never know which person walking by you is that drunk driver or deer that might kill or hospitalize you no matter how careful you think you are being, no matter how much you think it can’t happen to you. Wear your damn mask. Make your own luck.

P.S. The coronavirus, just like that drunk driver, or that deer by the way, doesn’t know or care if you are a Democrat or a Republican, a man or a woman, young or old, or rich or poor.

Please wear your mask.

Dennis Hayes


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