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Ask Amy

Reader wonders how to stop friend from driving drunk

Q. “Calvin,” a 64-year-old co-worker of my husband’s, was on the verge of being homeless, so we invited him to live in our home.

We now realize that Calvin is an alcoholic. We are now hiding our own alcohol in a padlocked refrigerator in our garage.

Calvin works only enough hours to leave time to drink at his favorite bar, which is across from the store where he and my husband work. We usually drive him to work, he works for about four hours and then drinks at the bar until my husband picks him up to come home (we live less than 2 miles from the store).


Calvin has four grown children who live about an hour away.

Yesterday, one of his kids gave Calvin a car. He does not have a driver’s license and today he drove himself to work.

As I write this, it’s too early in the day to know if he stopped at the bar before driving himself home. What should I do, if anything?


A. It is possible that “Calvin’s” grown children don’t know that their father is an alcoholic with no driver’s license. You and your husband are enabling Calvin to live this life, but because his kids gave him wheels, you should share your concerns with them.

You should call 911 if you suspect that someone is driving under the influence. Give a detailed description of the car and provide the license plate number. Police who regularly patrol your area will know the bar where he hangs out (and they might know Calvin).

I assume Calvin doesn’t have his license because of previous infractions. Getting nabbed for DWI — hopefully before anyone gets hurt — could lead to jail time for him, as well as having the car seized. This could (possibly) be a blessing in disguise, as it might force him to dry out and get into some sort of mandatory recovery program.


Q. My wife has a phobia of interacting with my family (parents, siblings, etc.). She has always been this way, and it’s to the point where it is affecting my family and my marriage.

What’s most disturbing is the fact that we visit them only about once a month, for backyard barbecues, family dinners, and other gatherings.

Every single time, my wife and I get into an argument. She is all like, “Do we have to go? How long are we staying? I only want to be there for a short amount of time, or I just want to stay home.”

My family members are not perfect people, but whose family is? Every family has their faults and disagreements.

I am stressed about this to the point of questioning my marriage. I only want my wife and my two daughters to visit my family on a normal and regular basis without my wife and me arguing about it.

What can we do?

Upset Husband

A. You don’t provide details, but look at the situation from this perspective: If you had to have a root canal once a month, would you embrace it?

Your wife, for whatever reason, equates being with your family to a trip to the oral surgeon. If your family collectively bullies or rejects her, then she is not going to want to hang out with them. If they regularly fight with one another in front of her, she is not going to look forward to visiting with them. Your refusal to see any of this from her perspective and to label her reluctance a “phobia” might be an important factor.


No spouse should force another to spend excessive time with their family of birth. This should be negotiable. If you want to take the kids to see your family, you should. Your wife might agree to accompany you half the time. Wouldn’t this compromise both eliminate her anxiety and satisfy your need?

If possible, she should have an “escape hatch” so that she can exit quietly without forcing you and the kids to leave on her timetable. And you should accept her choice to limit interactions without fighting about it.

Q. Poor, foolish “Worried” was in a “friends with benefits” relationship with a guy who had fathered babies with two different women (born days apart). Worried was concerned about his Facebook status.

Amen for your answer, Amy! Thank you for writing, “. . .this whole situation is unfortunate — because Rome is burning and you’re worried about your Facebook status.”

Big Fan

A. Some answers write themselves.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@amydickinson.com.