So I’d like to tell you a tale from the beforetimes. This was before I decided to get into video game development and when I was a young and possibly naive man. I was working in my first real job after graduating with my undergraduate degree. This was a traditional engineering job so it was way more stuffy than making video games. It was a rather small company so everyone knew everybody quite quickly.
There was one dude who worked there as a firmware engineer. He was in his 40s I believe. I actually forget his name but let’s call him Larry. Larry appeared to be a straight-laced guy but he was always nice to me and pleasant to be around. I never really had a problem with him. Things with Larry didn’t get weird until a few months in. I remember coming into work and needing to talk to him almost right away in the morning. As we stood to talk, I distinctly smelled what I thought to be a strong odour of alcohol on his person. I dismissed it almost immediately because Larry didn’t seem to be under the influence of anything. I also knew that some older men liked to wear cologne or aftershave that smelled a lot like alcohol. The thought passed because nothing else gave me a reason to think Larry had been drinking. On many other days, Larry didn’t smell like anything. On other days, he smelled like that alcohol/cologne smell.
Some time after that initial day, Larry just stopped coming to work. There wasn’t a real reason why. No one told me anything initially. It wasn’t my business and being the new guy, I didn’t dig deeper with anyone else. Then one day, another firmware engineer who worked closely with Larry told me most of the details. Larry indeed had a problem with alcohol. I had been fooling myself all that time. It was alcohol that I had smelled on him all those times. He had been drinking that early in the morning and somehow drove himself to work. Larry had been able to function well enough to disguise his problem most of the time.
Unfortunately, it all caught up to him, as these things do. The other engineer told me that Larry had been found in his car, nearly passed out, in the underground parking garage of his apartment complex. He’d managed to drive his car, thankfully at low speed, into a wall. Once stopped by the wall, his foot pressed on the gas, causing his tires to spin in place and emit a great amount of smoke.
I believe the president of the company offered to get Larry some help but I’m not sure if he took it. I don’t think I saw Larry ever again. In those days we didn’t have LinkedIn so it was more difficult to find people. I soon quit my job after that all went down.
I hope that wherever Larry is right now, he got the help he needed and he’s a better and healthier person now.