DEAR ABBY: The letter about the wine taster with an alcohol problem prompts this letter. I, too, live in Napa, Calif. -- and the letter you ran that described the winery worker's on-the-job alcohol abuse is a dirty little secret here in "wine country."
Should I become injured or killed in an auto accident on local roads, my family knows what to do. I told them to look into the driver's recent whereabouts, and if the driver is a wine tasting-room employee to seek compensation from both the driver and the employer! The same holds true if the driver was a guest at the wine tasting room and is inebriated.
The letter said the woman's supervisor was aware of her drinking problem. In my opinion, this makes the winery at least equally responsible in a highway accident -- perhaps more so if they have not attempted to resolve the problem.
The supervisor should use company money to get the alcoholic employee into a treatment program. There happens to be a premier treatment facility in the heart of Napa Valley.
In the meantime, the worried co-worker should drive herself to work -- that is, unless she wants to make her survivors wealthy. -- AVOIDS THE ROADS WHEN I CAN
DEAR AVOIDS THE ROAD: Telling your survivors to sue the winery will do nothing to protect YOU. Few of us can avoid traveling on roads and highways, so let me repeat a message that longtime readers have seen before: If you have been drinking, do not drive. If you are driving, do not drink. And do not RIDE with a driver who has been drinking or using drugs. The biggest liability settlement in history is no compensation for the tragedy of lost life and limb -- and that's the result when someone under the influence gets behind the wheel.
As you have pointed out, treatment is available. Effective, free self-help programs like Alcoholics Anonymous exist in almost every community. Telling someone at work, at home, in your neighborhood or your social life that you're concerned about his or her substance abuse isn't easy. People in denial usually don't welcome these conversations and may react with anger; however, speaking up instead of remaining silent may prevent a terrible tragedy.