Stay safe these holidays

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Sometimes, all it takes to get through the tough times in your life is a little bit of initiative, a plan and some willpower.

My favourite story of the past week comes out of the US, where a struggling magazine intern used all of the above to ensure she was able to eat each night.

New York-based Brittny Pierre used online dating sites to arrange dinner dates when she was struggling to get by day to day.

“To find my victims, I would chitchat with each possible suitor and then hope they’d offer to take me out, which nine out of 10 times they would,” she wrote.

“I would pick a restaurant I wanted to try out in the city and then it was on.”

Ethical? Perhaps not. Some bad dates along the way? Absolutely.

But she got what she wanted, she ensured she survived and now she has one hell of a story to tell.

All of us probably have stories like that.

I can remember the long drives along the Great Western Highway instead of the M4, because as a struggling young journo I couldn’t afford the $2.20 toll that was on the freeway at the time.

I remember myself and a former partner standing in the shops, deciding whether we should buy bread or milk – such was our financial state at the time.

Actually, not much has changed – last week I found myself going from pure ecstasy to devastation when after putting together all of my loose change, I managed to drop a crucial $2 coin down the drain on my way into Pizza Hut to collect my discount voucher-driven meat lovers pizza and garlic bread.

If my trainer is reading this, the pizza was a reward for seven days worth of salads, exercise and water.

Truth is those days driving along the Great Western Highway, avoiding the toll, were actually some really fun times.

So was budgeting down to the last dollar, and checking my Internet banking 22 times on pay day to see if the money had come in for that week.

It’s funny how sometimes your darkest moments can be your most joyous, on reflection at least.

I met up with a friend this week – let’s call him Bob for the sake of the argument – who’s lost pretty much everything in life. About two years ago he had a big house, a pool out the back, a wife and a couple of kids, and a boring, but well-paying job (his words, not mine).

It’s funny how destiny plays out, but this one night some time back his Foxtel was out, so he went to the pub to watch his beloved footy team on the TV.

They won, he celebrated with more than a few beers, and then made the decision to get behind the wheel and drive home.

Despite what you may be thinking, he didn’t get caught.

But the next time, he did.

We often think we’re bullet proof, and when we get away with something once, human nature is to do it again.

Bob lost his licence as a result of getting caught, which had the flow-on effect of losing his job. No job, no money, no mortgage payments, and the house very quickly disappeared.

Ultimately, so too did the family.

Drink drivers are not always what the stereotype may suggest and it would be a brave person who said that they have never, in their entire life, risked driving home with the worry that maybe, just maybe, they’re over the limit.

And it would also be a brave person who said that when they arrived home safely, they didn’t feel 10 feet tall; almost as if something special had been achieved.

Bob was probably the last person I’d ever think would face the things he is now facing in life.

Has the whole experience changed him? Somewhat, though during our conversation he did manage to sink a couple of schooners.

Bob has all the arguments under the sun, but the reminder of what could happen when you’re drunk behind the wheel quickly brings him down to Earth.

I started this column talking about having a plan, some initiative and some willpower.

This long weekend, be armed with all three before you go out, wherever you may be going.

Long weekends, particularly this one, have horror statistics attached to them when it comes to road deaths.

Don’t make it your final Easter, or worse still, don’t make it the final Easter of the person whose life you may destroy because you couldn’t be bothered catching a cab home after having a gut full of beer.

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