A story of Alcohol, Leadership, Agility, Inclusive Team Building, and Love

The last few weeks I have been meeting up from friends from a past software company I worked at a few years ago.  This was one of the greatest high performing teams I have ever been a part of.  We worked hard and played hard. We made mistakes, we learned, and we delivered. Meeting up with them and this being St. Patrick’s Day reminds me of one of my favourite times in my life.

A few years ago, our team just hit a major milestone that took a lot of late nights and weekend work to meet…so we were going out to celebrate.  The team arranged a night out and made sure that we were going to a wheelchair accessible venue to make sure I could join.  Being new to Toronto I found this incredibly heartwarming.  I told my wife that I was going out after work for a dinner and a couple drinks and I shouldn’t be too late (so I thought at the time)…especially given this was a Thursday night.

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We celebrated like the world was ending.  Drink after drink.  We laughed, we bonded, and we drank.  We were discussing future features and functionality…and drank some more.  When I was having trouble holding shot glasses, my team would quickly help.  At 10:35pm I simply texted my wife, “I’m drunk”. 13 shots of Sake will do that.


My team members escorted me home.  They first tried to role in the wrong condo.  I tried to tell them that it wasn’t my condo, but not until they saw the upset resident who was not too happy that they were trying to roll in a drunken disabled stranger into his house at 1:40am on a work night that they finally believed me.  He was not nearly as upset as my wife was when they finally rolled me into my condo.

At 1:45am I rolled into the condo.  My wife met us at the door.  To say she was not too happy would be an understatement.  People she never met was rolling her husband home on a weeknight.

She was not angry at me because I was drinking all night with my colleagues, she was upset because she was scared that her disabled husband was drunk and lost in our new huge city of Toronto.  Her inconsiderate husband neglected to keep her up to date about his whereabouts.  Her husband has learned a lesson and was incredibly apologetic for weeks after.  In a related note, I emailed apple about programming the iPhone Siri to better interpret drunken slur voice commands. 


I said, “ Hey honey, meet my friends…”  I learned that introducing my friends to my wife at 1:45am is not the best time to do this. 

I fell asleep with the look of death starring at me only to wake up with the same look of death.  

Filled with Adrenaline at 6am I had my helper throw me on my exercise bike.  Five minutes in I realized I was still intoxicated.  So I jumped off.  As my helper was doing my morning routine he could not help to laugh.  He has never seen me drunk/hungover before.  There was a coelation between his laughter and how angry my wife was getting.  I said, “Hey Chuckles, keep it down.  I want to feel like George Jettson and go through the production line of shave, shower, and dress as autonomous as possible”. Soon as my wife left for work with only a few hours of sleep, I cancelled my morning meetings and handed my helper the tv remote.  I said I will pay you for a few extra hours if you let me take a nap before heading to work.

I rolled into work about 11:45am. Although I was freshly showered and dressed I could still smell last night’s alcohol.  It turns out that we must have spilled on the armrest of my char when we were doing toasts the night before.  Only me and one other person from the team made it into work that day.  I rolled to him to ask him how much I owed him for the wheelchair cab home.  He said that there were no wheelchair cabs available so the team flagged down a delivery truck and they lifted me and the power-chair into it to be driven home.

I emailed my wife to share this new piece of information and she said, “This is sending like the Hangover movie”

That night we were meeting her family to go out for her birthday dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.  I emailed her to ask her if she could get off work early to help me into bed so we could go for a nap before dinner out.  I will paraphrase her response to keep this blog post PG and say her response was a ‘no’.  It never ceases to surprise me that in my head at the time it sounded like a logical request.

I left work early, bought her birthday gift, and went out for dinner.  However, I was in bed by 8pm.

Important concepts:

  • Leadership - I empowered the teams to make decisions and produce a way home for me.
  • Agility - Transparency - I should have been more transparent with my wife on my whereabouts and well being
  • Agility - Definition of Done for a night out drinking needs to include washing the power-chair of alcohol spills
  • Team Building - Creating an exercise in which you bring home a teammate that has drank too much is effective
  • Equality - A husband with Cerebral Palsy can be just as much of a jerk than a husband without a disability

Our old team met up a couple weeks ago to do dinner as one of them was moving back home to the Philippines.  I told them that my wife had one request, “Please don’t come home drunk at 1:45am again with strangers”.  They replied with, “We have already met her, so we are no longer strangers” 😃  I was home by 9:30pm.

 You will always remember those teams you have been a part of that were incredibly effective.  They share things in common - they do amazing work, they challenge each other, and they have each other’s back.

I’m happy to say my wife and myself will be celebrating 14 years of marriage this September.