Two bad decisions

A good mate of mine - let's call him, Chocko - told me recently how his brother-in-law had phoned him a few months ago and dressed him down for his behaviour and, bizarrely for my friend, it actually made him pause, consider the criticism and then pull his head in.

Chocko is a solid bloke - good job, reasonably successful, attentive father - but certainly no world beater. He's a thoughtful fella too, not prone to many of the common idiocies of Aussie men, but, then, he does like a drink.

And this seems to be the problem.

Chocko went through a nasty divorce a few years ago - and, finding himself single once again, he's taken to the booze with renewed vigour.

"I wasn't crashing cars or waking up in jail, but I was hitting it pretty hard some nights, when I didn't have my son the next day," he told me.

Chocko and his brother-in-law work in the skateboard industry and went to a sales conference in Victoria in May. Refreshments were served and Chocko indulged significantly.

"I was staying in a room with two other reps and they had the key. When I got back to the hotel, the front desk was closed for the night and these two clowns were passed out, not answering their phones."

So Chocko was locked out at 3am, in the cold, and when he rang the security company listed on the front door of the boutique hotel, they told him he'd have to wait until 6am.

He was ... frustrated and ended up ripping the intercom off the front door and giving it a bit of a talking to in the street.

"All on surveillance camera, of course," said Chocko.

Now you might think Chocko is just a yob, nong or dick, but he's actually a very sweet guy, interested in other people, super polite and respectful, funny, he recycles, uses condoms and sponsors a Third World child ... he just goes a little crazy when he's ... refreshed.

Of course, his boss and his brother-in-law soon heard about the intercom incident and Chocko was very lucky not to be sacked. He paid for the damage to the hotel but the next weekend, he was back on the drink, pretty harmlessly, yet still massively hammered.

"Then I got a call from my brother-in-law on the Sunday," said Chocko.

"He'd said nothing to me about the intercom, but he knew I'd been back out on the sauce because I'd texted him some gibber the night before.

"He just opened up on me, both barrels, not shouting or anything, just telling me how it was. He said I had a great job, and even bigger opportunities ahead of me, but I was just gonna piss 'em away.

"He said my drinking was going to screw me up, and that in turn would affect my relationship with my son and that now ... right now ... was the time to make a decision about what sort of person I wanted to be for my kid," said Chocko.

"It's weird, but I really needed to hear it. It just clarified so many things for me," he said, and has since been walking the straight and narrow.

"I want my son to have opportunities, and he's not gonna get 'em with a pisshead for a father," said Chocko.

While Chocko was telling me this story, I couldn't help recalling a conversation I'd had with a young social worker a few weeks back who told me "a lot of people are just two bad decisions away from homelessness".

When I said this to Chocko, he just nodded his head and said: "F---en oath."

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.