Sometimes I think of my blog as just a place to ramble on about things that are interesting or curious to me. I write it for myself and if others read it, that’s fine but it isn’t why I create it. This story, however, some of my former DuPont colleagues may find interesting. When I worked for DuPont for 23 years I was within a unique corporate culture where safety was of utmost importance. Knowing that, decisions I make (even today) are influenced by the ingrained safety culture. That makes the following story more understandable while the title may have raised your curiosity.
Presently, I am in the heart of Austrian wine country. Just about all of the grapes in the Wachau Valley are Gruner Vetliner which makes a dry white wine. Austrian wine is serious business… right at the pinnacle of national culinary importance just above beer, schnitzel, and strudel. Wine is sacred with two millennia of history and strict attention to growing techniques and quality.
So, here I am in wine country. I think it would be reasonable to have a few glasses of wine now and then. Well, my story is titled “One Too Many” for good reason as I describe my following experience.
Several weeks ago I decided to travel to Rosenburg, Austria. Rosenberg is a tiny community about 60 kilometers from where I was staying in Melk. I wanted to visit a particular castle there. It was a rather humid, hot day around 37 degrees in Rosenberg. I was thirsty but not for a beer and the cafe next to the train station was open. So, being in wine country I thought that there was a possibility to avoid the popular cold white and get a cold sweet red. I know that sounds sacrilegious for those who know about serving a red cold; you must be cringing. But I have known that some Austrian establishments sell a cold red as an alternative for many like myself.
I enjoyed my robust red wine, paid my bill, and was off to the castle. Even though the castle was right outside on a cliff overlooking the cafe, to get there, one must hike along a highway for about a kilometer and then climb up a sloped hill for about another kilometer. Less than 50 meters into the walk I felt so light-headed that I had to sit on a bench along the highway. Thinking that the situation was ridiculous, I soon got going and could hardly wait to hug the next bench about 50 meters away. I have rarely been drunk but I recognized the feeling!
Fortunately, my DuPont safety awareness kicked in. I ruled out going anywhere near a cliff. Next, I decided to sit for a while… that was really boring! Then I decided that I likely wasn’t going anywhere other than the direction back to the train station, no more than 150 meters. I consciously arrived at the station to find that the next train wasn’t for an hour and forty minutes!
So for the next hour and forty minutes I found myself doing a variety of things. I thought I could walk along the train track to the next train station. Hummm, if a train were to come, there was nowhere for me to escape so I stopped doing that. Then I decided I could take a well-marked hiking trail to the other train station. The trail went over a swaying foot bridge over a rapidly running stream that seemed like Category Five rapids (but really wasn’t). Oh, in case you have never tried it, that’s a bad decision when your stomach is already feeling like you are riding the tilt-a-whirl, so I paused and held onto the swaying bridge for a few moments and went back from where I came and settled in at the train station.
I made it to the station once again and I was feeling worse so I sat on a bench. Similar to this photo from the web, the seat was more rustic and made of a series of wood slats of approximately 25 X 50 mm stock with about a 25 mm gap. I sat there and my head began to swirl and throb. Was I going to fall to the ground? Thinking that I might, I put my head toward my knees so that if I were to fall that would shorten the distance (How about that safety thinking?). Fortunately, I didn’t fall but I was beginning to get sick at my stomach (the swirling water on a swaying foot bridge didn’t help) and I was developing a brain-splitting headache. I decided to lay down.
Recall that the station bench is about 25 mm wide boards followed by a 25 mm gap. Oh, that is medieval-rack-torture uncomfortable to lay on but I stayed there thinking that was best to do. Meanwhile, Johann, a neighbor by the station, must have been amused and came over to check on me. He spoke minimal English and I speak no German (except for a few words) but somehow I understood he was asking if I was okay. About this time I was becoming more cognizant and the spinning and throbbing had ceased. I told him I was okay as he pointed to his house for what I thought was his way of saying “American, if you can’t handle our wine, at least come inside and be safe.”
The train soon came and I made my way back to Melk. I am still here to tell the story of drinking one too many in my adventure. So here is the precious gem in this story. As it turns out on this particular day it was one too many but it was only one! Yes, one too many.