You've spent the last few hours at your favorite watering hole lifting a glass to Christmas, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, all eight reindeer, the guy on the end who can remember each of their names, the bartender, the bartender's Christmas tie, Gorbachev, glasnost, Gemutlichkeit, your grandmother's turkey stuffing, the infield fly rule, the 1967 MGB, Bing Crosby, "White Christmas," USC, the end of the '80s, Hanukkah, spaghetti carbonara and the invention of mistletoe. It's been a truly high-spirited evening.
And then you climb down off the bar stool, take that first step toward the parking lot and you suddenly get . . .
That Old Sinking Feeling.
You realize that you've not only forgotten where you put your car, you're not sure you even remember where you put your keys. What you do remember, however, with stark clarity, is that somewhere out there in the night are lots and lots of cops who would feel pretty good about taking you to jail if they see you behind the wheel of your car.
What's more, you're 15 miles from home and every sober person you know who could drive you home went to bed hours ago.
This holiday season, however, there are alternatives to a very long walk home or a very uncomfortable night in the slammer.
One of the most visible is a program called CareCab, sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Care Unit Hospital of Orange. The program offers the holiday reveler who has had one or more too many a free ride home by Yellow Cab within 20 miles of the pickup point (the customer pays for any additional mileage).
The program is designed to take people home from public places where alcohol is served, such as restaurants and bars--private parties don't qualify--and the deal is good only within the borders of Orange County. Also, the customer must call the Care Unit toll-free number (1 (800) 422-4143) in order to qualify for the free service.
CareCab will operate from Dec. 24 through Jan. 2 from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Yellow Cab of North Orange County and Orange Coast Yellow Cab, based in Fountain Valley, also participate in a program called Taxi Time. Similar to CareCab, Taxi Time is sponsored by a group of Orange County beer distributors: Southland Beverage, Quality Beer Distributors, Consolidated Beverage Distributors, Coors Distributing Co. and Straub Distributing Co.
Operating from the evening of Dec. 22 through the evening of Jan. 1 (there are no set operating hours), Taxi Time will provide a Yellow Cab at a public place and will take the customer home free of charge within 25 miles in Orange County. The service does not pick up customers from Laguna Beach south to the San Diego County line.
Rides may be obtained from Yellow Cab of North Orange County by calling (714) 535-2211. The number of Orange Coast Yellow Cab is (714) 546-1311.
For high school students who may find themselves in no condition to drive home, many Orange County high schools offer confidential free rides home through chapters of Safe Rides. Through the year-around program, groups of students belonging to a Safe Rides Explorer Post (the program is sponsored by the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America) will pick up fellow students from the post's school and drive them home, primarily on weekends.
The Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America (546-4990) can provide the names of high schools participating in the Safe Rides program, and the high schools themselves can provide the phone number of their own Safe Rides Explorer Posts.