Drinks after Work ft. Toby Keith

Two years in to my college run at W&L, and there is one thing I know all generals have learned. Our school has mastered the work hard, play hard mentality. Washington and Lee is full of incredibly intelligent students and professors, but they are all more than just book-smart. We are a social lot that, when our work is finished, love to have a good time. This culture we all live at school does a great job of preparing us for the adult world, where both brains and social skills are vital for success. What I didn’t think we would find in London, however, is a culture that embraces drinking even more than Lexington.

Here, drinking is not a means for an end. It’s a social norm. Even more, it’s not strictly an evening and night activity. Beers after work is not only common; it’s a staple event in the work environment. One of the biggest culture shocks I have enjoyed learning is the merging of drinking and work. After a long day of work (or even a short one), the entire staff moves on from the office towards the corner pub for a pint or two before heading home. Relationships with your coworkers don’t end at the office door. The culture here is so much more relaxed. Even in stressful workplaces like the Parliament, the work day is rarely finished without a trip to the pub to blow off some steam with a round of beer.

During futbol season, all bets are off. When England is playing a 2 o’clock game, the streets of London will suddenly go mysteriously quiet around quarter ‘til, and the pubs will be at capacity. My internship in the House of Commons was no exception. At kickoff, it seemed like the entire Parliamentary Estate was slammed into the local pub and drinking like the weekend had started. And when the final whistle blew, everybody finished their drinks and headed back in to finish the work day. It is an exciting mix of work and play, and unlike anything I anticipated. I still proudly claim W&L as the epitome of the work hard, play hard mentality, but as we’re all coming to learn, the Brits enjoy a drink after work just as much as us Gennies.

  • I must have done something wrong early on as I’ve never been invited to drinks by my coworkers. What I will say with respect to the more relaxed drinking culture is that I agree with your observations for the most part. There seem to be fewer taboos on the discussion of alcohol consumption here for starters. Just today one of our workers shouted “It’s four o-clock! It’s socially acceptable to drink so let’s all go to the pub!” While I do believe she was joking, such an utterance would likely have appalled anyone in an American office. Moreover, one of my coworkers has regularly regaled us interns with stories of her post-party exploits.

    Perhaps the most shocking incident was after I went to Richmond to distribute leaflets to potential supporters. I had completed my route and checked in with my supervisor who explicitly ordered me to go to the nearest pub, order a drink, and wait for the rest of our entourage to arrive. This occurred during working hours though I can’t say I was complaining. It was extremely hot that day and I was grateful for a cold drink.


    • I agree with your comparison Gray, and also found it intriguing how ingrained drinking is in the work culture. In my previous work experiences in the United States, coworkers seldom spent time together outside of their 40-hour work week other than the occasional business dinner and the topic of alcohol was taboo. However, while in London I was consistently asked out to get drinks or dinner after work. At first I thought my coworkers were just trying to be nice since I was new in the office and away from home, but I quickly realized that this is the social norm in the UK. Additionally, everyone in my office was really into the futbol games. We often ordered food and snacks to have in the break room while the games were on. It is interesting that even in very different types of work, the social climates in both of our offices were similar.

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