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Monday, September 5, 2011

Non-Smokers Have Rights Too

I don't smoke cigarettes. Never have, never will. Growing up, my dad always smoked and it was the first thing I would smell in the morning when my alarm would go off, his cigarette smoke as he sat in the kitchen reading the newspaper, drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette. Nowadays, he would never consider smoking inside the house but back then no one seemed to think much about it. It was sorta the way that we thought it was perfectly fine to sunbathe with baby oil and throw litter outside our car windows as we drove down the highway. Ah, it was a simple world back then. Over the years, I have been in a couple of plays that required me to smoke cigarettes but it was always so disgusting that it never made me want to consider continuing the habit after closing night. Nope, cigarettes are not something I ever wanted to take up until last last night when I noticed that the bartender got to take four or five cigarette breaks during the course of our five hour shift while I was stuck inside working.

Surely I am not the only one who notices this reverse discrimination. Yes, smokers have been delegated to one square foot where they are allowed to puff and it has to be so many feet from the building entrance and then they are not allowed to throw their butts on the ground, (Speaking of butts...) but they do get to leave their jobs several times a day to do it. It's not fair for those of us with clean lungs, longer life expectancy and more spending money. Observe:
Smoker: Hey boss, I'm gonna go out to the sidewalk and have a quick cigarette break for a few minutes and I'll be right back, okay?
Boss: Okay.


Non-smoker:
Hey boss, I'm gonna go out to the sidewalk for a few minutes and I'll be right back, okay?
Boss: Are you gonna smoke a cigarette?
Non-smoker: No, I don't smoke so I'm just gonna pace back and forth.
Boss: Get your ass back to work.

You know it's true. Smokers have this unspoken permission to run out for a quick smoke break any time they want and while they're out there they get to other things that we non-smokers are not allowed to do at our jobs like talk on the phone or look at a magazine. Man.smokers have all the fun. Maybe people allow them to do it because they feel sorry for the chain of addiction that is wrapped around the smoker's lungs and they know that for every cigarette they smoke that person is losing eleven minutes of their lives. But I want my four or five mini breaks a day, goddamn it. I knew this guy once who was from Hungary. He told me that every man there had to serve in the army as a teenager and he soon realized that the smokers in the army got several sanctioned breaks throughout the day. So what did he do? He bought a pack of cigarettes and started to smoke. Actually, he would simply light a cigarette and hold it just to get away from whatever the others were doing. It was the army in Hungary so who the hell knows what that was. Push ups? Breaking rocks? Eating goulash? The point is that even in the Hungarian army, smokers got to take breaks that non-smokers didn't.

It's time that we non-smokers stood up for our rights! The next time you are at work and you see one of your filthy addicted co-workers going out to suck on a cancer stick for five minutes, I say go with them. (Do not stand too close to them though because you don't want any of that nasty ass second-hand smoke to get into your beautiful pure lungs.) If a person goes out to smoke once an hour during a five hour shift, that totals about twenty-five minutes of free time they get that non-smokers don't. Never mind that by smoking five cigarettes they have shaved off almost an hour of their life, we are talking about short term benefits here. We deserve those cigarette breaks too and we don't have to smoke to get 'em. Starting tomorrow, any time someone goes out for a "quick puff," I'm going too. I'm going to buy me some of those candy cigarettes though because smoking is not cool. I just want to be lazy.

Does anyone else see this happen at their job? I want to know. I also want you to CLICK HERE to vote to get me on a billboard in Times Square. Easy with no sign up or registration. Just a click.



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34 comments:

amykreis said...

I work at a school so nobody gets a smoke-break. I guess they just have to suffer...hahahahaha.

Mind Of Mine said...

I am a smoker, so I can't empathise with you on this one.

Gallo said...

Absolutely true. I used to smoke during college, not anymore. Now I can totally understand this. There are people from my office that take 5 to 8 cigarette breaks a day. If you count the time a day they waste and multiply it by a year...phew, Id rather not share that info with my department. PLUS the money a year you spend on cigarettes...

Anonymous said...

I'm a smoker, but even for the short time I was non-smoker I used to take five minutes when things where calm (or just not shit-crazy) and go outside. I truly believe that taking a few short breaks during you workday helps you focus better. So, yeah, stand up for your selves non-smokers and take a break! (Or, as we call it in Sweden - a fika http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fika_(coffee_break))

Rennifer said...

I learned very quickly at my first serving job that the only way that I would see the light of day for the whole of my shift was to become a non-smoking smoker. I've recently transitioned to the world of education and NO ONE there smokes (or if they do, they're in the closet) and I feel a little lost. Who are my people now?

maxi said...

My old restaurant had a policy of one 5 min break for all employess per shift, only if it was quiet enough for you to do so.

You could use this break for anything. Make a phone call, smoke, run to the shops to get donuts, whatever. But it was ONE break per shift ONLY if you had the time for it. I though it worked well.

purplegirl said...

The company I worked for declared a year ago that we're a non-smoking organization and people are not ALLOWED to smoke on the clock. Pretty sure, with the break laws, that that is totally illegal and they're banking on nobody having the money for a lawyer. But before then it was just like that -- I ask to go outside and get told no, meanwhile a cloud of smoke is wafting up behind that building.

Jenny said...

I absolutely agree with this. I've noticed this in my office job and while I was serving/bartending. In fact, I knew one server who had never smoked in her life, but started because "it just seems so relaxing to go outside and smoke a cigarette." Ummm....

Practical Parsimony said...

It was the worst in undergrad and grad school. The students who smoked went out with the professors who smoked and soon had a rapport that the nonsmokers did not have with the professors.

Finally, I just went out and stood with the smokers, trying to stay out of the haze. But, I did not really want to spend my break standing in storms or the torrid heat.

On top of all the rapport-building going on, these students, THEN were not frowned upon when they had to go to the bathroom and get something to eat and drink and bring back to class. Plus, if I had to sit by their stinky asses after a smoke, I was miserable with allergies.

Actually, I personally cannot stand smokers and their extra priviliges anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Does your new "comment" comment mean that anonymous cannot post?

itswhatiam said...

I once had a non-smoking boss. He instituted a Twinkie break policy. If a worker went on a smoke break, it entitled non-smokers to go outside for a Twinkie.

The last time I waited tables, it was in a four floor (as in four story) building. Food was run up and down the stairs, as were dirty dishes (and we bussed our own tables). The nice thing about this is that there were emergency exit stairwells. While smokers had to find time to go outside to smoke, non-smokers could conveniently return to their station by taking the emergency stairs, and along the way, stop to rest for a few minutes. It was next to impossible for anyone to find you if you were resting on those stairs...

Baylee said...

I had a job where all the guys in the kitchen got smoke breaks every hour.. meanwhile us non-smokers only got one for every 8 hour shift! For awhile I just lied and said I was smoking in my car...

S'A said...

I worked in a restaurant that was the same way. So I bought a pack and would just light them. Of course, that's when a pack only cost a dollar!

Clinish said...

I am totally a dirty smoker, but I can absolutely sympathize with you on this one. It is ridiculous that we get free breaks all day long. But, we're also actively killing ourselves in the process...so, may be it evens out?

digressions said...

At my job, we are allowed to go for a smoke OR "sky break" only during certain non-peak hours. The non-smokers are allowed as well, as long as it is within the permitted hours and it is slow enough for you to do so without anyone else having to pick up your slack. Seems fair to me! I quit smoking 6 months ago but I do take the "sky break" sometimes when I am having a stressful shift, or if there are other people out there that I might want to chat with for a few.

B.P. said...

I use to be the only non-smoking waitress in an Australian themed steak house of popular orientations in America. (Am I vague enough?)

We had 16 girls on the floor and fifteen of them would go out for a 'quick smoke' at the same time, and leave me to do all of their work for that half an hour, because at the end of it, it was a half an hour break. It was miserable, because at the end, I'd have to give the girls their tips for doing their work all because I am not a smoker.

Now I work in a nursing home, and at night every other nurse and assistant goes out to smoke, leaving me to watch over their halls. Sure it's night time so it's not bad, but it's still the idea that something could happen.

Is it just me or do all the smokers travel in packs and some of the more inconsiderate ones leave the non smokers to pick up the slack. The nurses where I work now at least offer to get me a coffee or something while they are out on their break (they aren't allowed on the property smoking, so they drive to the gas station or McD's to grab food.)

I love the idea of the aforementioned Twinkie Break. I may have to try that. Sometimes it's just wonderful to take a moment to let your mind catch up with your ass.

WJ said...

I definitely agree that this is ridiculous. I do like the comment about the "sky break" which seems like a reasonable idea. I think the better idea would be to have a policy that you can smoke when you are off the clock and off the grounds. So you better buy some quit gum to get you through the day.

Maria said...

I have noticed on every service-industry job I've had (restaurant, retail) that smokers get far more breaks. At one restaurant I got yelled at for asking to leave the sales floor to drink water -- by a manager who took about a hundred smoke breaks per shift.

Two Flights Down said...

I worked at a job once where smokers went out in groups for twenty minute breaks to gossip and talk on the phone. Totally made me mad that they got an extra twenty minute break every hour. They didn't even have to clock out. Wtf? When bars in our area started non-smoking policies, I was relieved to be able to listen to live music without becoming sick with allergies and asthma for three days. Smokers I knew, however felt their rights were being violated. Why is it that some smokers feel that non-smokers don't have rights too? I think people should do twinkie breaks. Tell your boss if you don't get a twinkie every hour, you'll lose it.

Mary A. said...

I am not a smoker, but I totally stick up for smokers because I KNOW they are coming after fat people next and I need someone in my corner.

I managed someone who was a break-taking smoker. His collegues said it wasn't fair. i told them that if they needed a break, they should take one. it was OK with me if they took 5 minutes to. . whatever.

They looked at me like I had 2 heads. They didn't really want extra breaks, they just wanted him to stop taking breaks.

Well, too fucking bad. He was my most productive salesman. he can take crack breaks for all I care, as long as he exceeds quota, I am happy.

MrsOliver said...

I am also a non-smoker at a restaurant full of co-workers who smoke. I've been there for a while, and at the beginning I was totally pissed at not getting the extra breaks. So, last season, I declared that I would be taking a "fresh air break"-a little ironic, considering our only place to take a break is by the dumpster, where everyone else smokes. But really, it is just nice to take a minute to get my head back on straight!

sally said...

I am a smoker. I haven't worked a whole lot since the non smoking craze kicked in but I will say I am kind of grossed out when I walk up to a business and the employees are outside smoking. If it were a restaurant I doubt I would go in. It makes me wonder if they are going to be taking a smoke break while I sit waiting for my check, or coffee, or menu, whatever.

But...you really can't blame the smokers for this; it's the fault of management. Everyone should be treated equally as far as break time is concerned.

Haruka said...

This happened ALL the time at my KFC job, and one manager actually allowed us to have 'pop breaks' to make up for the smoker breaks. The other managers after him never did, and some of co-workers would go out on smoke break more than twice an hour. Downstairs, they'd also smoke just outside the double doors and leave them wide open as they did so, so that all the disgusting smoke came in and right up the stairs. XÞ

watergirl said...

The same thing happens in most companies. When I still worked and smoked, we were allowed to "sneak outside" fairly frequently for a quick smoke. Those who didn't smoke were screwed. When I quit smoking, I was flat out told, no more sneak breaks.

Personally, I feel that a quick, 5-minute "stretch, smoke, whatever" break is GOOD for people. You'd be surprised at how much better a person's mood is after just a few minutes every hour or so to just regroup.

For what it's worth, when my mom worked as a 911 dispatcher, she was told quite bluntly, "You don't smoke so no, you don't get a break".

/huggles
~watergirl~

Bagel Fairy said...

I echo all the other sentiments - I've had the same problem at my jobs.

Many smokers love playing the victim and insist the abstainers just Don't Understand and are therefore not qualified to touch this subject, and furthermore are trying to infringe on their "rights." Nobody lets me chow down on a pastry in the parking lot just because I'm addicted to sugar, so why should we all cater to you?

So to all those unnecessarily defensive smokers out there, I don't question your right to smoke - just the special privileges some demand in the name of your habit.

Bitchy, I'm shocked youhaven't actually received more nasty comments from smokers about this.

Tonya said...

Oh for fuck's sake, like smokers have it so good... Why don't you join them if it's so cushy?

adoseoftlc said...

I kid you not... my friend started smoking just to get the breaks at work.

As for my job, I just get up and walk away from my desk when I need a break, just like my smoking co-workers.

Anonymous said...

I am a supervisor at a restaurant and I smoke. I do go out and take smoke breaks, but I don't take a lunch break. I also let the non smokers take a five to chill. It's only fair.

pheezer said...

i own a restaurant in the south of france. i also smoke. some of my servers smoke. the smokers get a smoke break after their meal, at the same time everyone else is still sitting down. during the shift, no one gets a break until things settle down. then the smokers get a one-after-the-other smoke break, and the non-smokers get a crepe/dessert/phone break. that's fair, isn't it?

~a nice boss~

The Bitchy Waiter said...

@pheezer- very fair. and can I come work for you?

pheezer said...

i think i would love that! you're one sassy bitch!

Anonymous said...

I'm a newly ex smoker. I took breaks, but also work 10-12 hours a day. I went to school to get a degree to work at a company that treats people like adults. As long as I get my work done, I can take as many breaks as I want whether I smoke or not. The true gripe should be why you work for someone that wants to micro manage your every move. You seem responsible, would you just walk out during dinner service to have a ciggy or "sky break"? Find a new job, career, become the boss, whatever. Life's too short to hate your job, co-workers, or gripe about what's fair or unfair. The world is full of inequities, just accept it and live your life.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! I do agree that non-smokers should get the same breaks as smokers. As a child my dad, all 6 of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and all my parents friends smoked. In my early thirties I had some lung issues. I hadn't been around smoke in a long time due to the fact most of the smokers are dead, quit smoking, or just didn't smoke around me. When I went to have my lung test, I found out I had asthma, COPD, and the lungs of a person who had smoked twenty years!! I had to take medicine and if I am around someone smoking it makes me deathly sick.

I watched my grandpa who I loved more than life die when I was 16. He was so addicted he would pull his oxygen tank to the backdoor take his oxygen off and puff smoke out the backdoor. Shake my head, it was so hard to watch... I never wanted to be that addicted to anything so I decided to never smoke.

I do have a suggestion for you. You can now buy smokeless cigarettes, they just blow steam or something, therefore you don't breathe in the poison that smoking makes you breathe in. I have a friend who does this to get breaks at her job, lol, and it works for her...

Good luck. I totally hate smoke and to see people smoking around children that drives me nuts...

I really am enjoying your writing style. Have a blessed day..

BlossomFlowerGirl said...

I just happened on your blog and saw this. I do realise it is 2016, not 2011 or 2012, but felt compelled to leave a comment. Although I can understand your point of view re smokers having what we call "smoko", I disagree. Before smokers were treated like lepers or outcasts, they most likely smoked in their place of work, but today, that is no longer allowed. Ergo they must go outside to smoke. Non-smokers begrudging them this because - I'm not a smoker, I can't go outside, it's not fair, etc. etc. etc. is like the two year old who has a temper tantrum because they didn't get their own way.

I was a smoker but stopped smoking on February 6th 2016 and avoid going where people are smoking for two reasons - a) I don't like the smell of the smoke and b) to avoid temptation. Having been a smoker I am able to see both sides of the argument and don't begrudge workers who smoke going outside to smoke. If a person has never smoked, they will probably not know what it is like having to have that next ciggie. Smoking, like heroin or alcohol, is addictive, it is a habit which is very, very hard to break. Unlike heroin, smoking is legal and although there are people who may feel sorry for drug addicts and wish to help them, how many people view smokers in the same light?

Thank you for reading.
BlossomFlowerGirl