Character Tuesday: The RSA Teacher Of Our Dreams

“You know what the young people are saying nowadays,” she said, raising her eyebrows, “eating is cheating!”

Meet Leanne, our Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) class instructor who was not only in-the-know about naughty tricks the youth of Victoria do to get drunker quicker, but admitted that she herself wasn’t innocent, either. At first glance, she is your average 42-year-old, economically stable suburban mom. She wore a blue button down shirt, jeans and had her blond hair pulled back.

Sometimes she goes out with her friends. One of them in particular never gets let into the clubs. Why? She’s blind drunk by the time they reach the entrance. She also mentioned she had another friend who literally drops wine glasses when she drinks too much. Actually just lets them slip out of her hands and break all over the floor. (I later found that I had written in my booklet “Leanne has friends that drop wine glasses.”) One friend prevents her from entering, but the other gets them kicked out. Leanne just can’t have a good time.

On that Saturday morning in February when we learned so much about Leanne, we also learned a lot about responsible alcohol. Erin and I dragged ourselves out of bed, hungover and hungry, and sprinted to the hospitality institute at 9:00am for our three hour RSA class. Leanne managed to keep an entire classroom of people entertained at such an early time… for three hours.

After we watched a video sponsored by the Victorian government on just how much Aussies love to drink, she agreed on all counts. “As you can tell, we love to drink,” she explained, shrugging her shoulders as if to say, we just can’t help ourselves. She then lectured us the need to promote a good time- but responsibly. There are measures that a business can take in order to maintain a safe working environment and make money. That way they don’t let the horrific things happen like, “people are just standing there, getting assaulted.”

Leanne taught us the most important things we would need to know: the difference between a schooner, a pot and a pint, the measures or “jiggers” used to measure 15 and 30 ml of alcohol (coincidentally the same measures we use at the restaurant I work at to ration salad dressing) and most importantly, how to control rowdy groups and inappropriate patrons by blaming the fact they get kicked out on the bouncer. “I just tell them, ‘sorry, mate, but the bouncer won’t let you stay. If it was up to me, I’d let you,’” she told us. Cheeky!

Even though Leanne knew how to command a crowd despite the D.A.R.E.-esque content (with its Australian twist of actually celebrating alcohol) of the class, my notes were still littered with scribbles that Erin and I passed to each other out of boredom. Erin wrote things like “I’m not in in the mood for Indian (too soon) but I wonder if we can find anything else as cheap” and “are you hungry? I want to eat.”

Some of the notes weren’t indicative of being distracted. Others complemented the class, I noticed as I flipped through my book. If Leanne was enthusiastic about an idea, so was I. Under the section that explains that cold showers, black coffee, vomiting, and urinating don’t help you sober up, I wrote, “NO!!!!”

Where the booklet indicated drinking more than four standard drinks on a single occasion causes injury, I scratched in big, thick letters, “THAT’S A BINGE!” with an arrow pointing to the “4.” In the section about minors being allowed to drink on the premises (in Victoria, yes if they are eating a meal and with an adult), I vandalized a girl’s forehead with “I’M 16,” circled another one’s braces and next to the last kid’s mouth I drew a speech bubble that said “I hate the fun police!!! Boooo! KIDS CAN DRANK!!!”

Most certainly, all of that gusto was transmitted directly from Leanne. She left us with one piece of advice that I’ll never forget.

If you want people to drink responsibly, then, “don’t tell girls they get free drinks if they take their shirts off.”

You heard it first.

This post is part of weekly series titled Character Tuesday, where every Tuesday I bring you a story about (a) unique individual(s) I’ve encountered. Like I always say, life can be good or bad, but as long as it’s entertaining, that’s all you need. This series is meant to celebrate our quirks andidiosyncrasies.

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