Thursday, 26 January 2012

Smokers, the new rebel horde.

A long time ago, me and my brother Kyle here
We was hitchhiking down a long and lonesome road.
All of a sudden, there shined a shiny demon
In the middle of the road
And he said:
"Roll the best smoke in the world, or I'll eat your chips".

Oh no wait. I was distracted by YouTube. I'll start again.

Long ago, in the dim and distant past, when I worked for and with the allegedly intelligent (you wouldn't believe how shocked they are by the suggestion that Electrofag with no nicotine is suitable for non-smokers, even if they are vegetarian and like veggie burgers) smoking was only mildly frowned upon.

When I was a PhD student we could, at a pinch, get away with even smoking in the lab. It wasn't a good idea but it was not actually illegal. In fact most of us didn't because putting anything at all in your mouth in a microbiology lab has the risk level of 'mad'. Leave the sandwiches, coffee and smokes to the common room. Still, it wasn't illegal to smoke in the lab and some did.

It was eventually banned and really, in a lab with compressed-gas-cylinders, including hydrogen, and every surface at risk of being coated in some deadly disease, that ban was something nobody could sensibly object to. Nil by mouth is the best way to be in such a lab. A good microbiologist washes their hands before they go to the toilet. And after. During, if it's a long one.

So we smoked in the common room and nobody minded. It was my third post-doc job when smoking was first restricted.

Some objected to smoking. No problem. We smokers took our breaks at different times to avoid the whiners. Coffee break at 10:30? We worked through it and took ours at 11. Not a problem. I would take work into the common room outside break times and smoke while drawing graphs and writing reports. Productivity was not at all affected. Especially since most paper-writing happened outside working hours anyway.

Then came the first silly excuse from the antis. 'Some labs use ether and it's dangerous to smoke in the common room outside coffee breaks in case there's an explosion'. I am not kidding. That really is the reason given for forcing smokers back into 'normal' coffee break times. In that building full of PhD-level people, not one - not one - pointed out that if there is an explosive level of ether in the air in the common room, you really don't want to be the one who turns on the coffee machine. Every one of them agreed with the smoke restrictions, of course.

I moved jobs and was once more able to work in the common room while smoking. Then a no-smoking sign appeared. I enquired and was told it was not official, just put up by a git and could be ignored. Nonetheless it was pointed out to me every time I smoked because There Is A Sign and again, PhD-level people proved themselves to be utterly controllable drones.

It is true to say I have had fun with this realisation in the past. I had someone believing that ammonia-absorbing bacteria in the pig gut were the next Big Thing just by talking in hushed tones in the presence of a known gullible idiot. You haven't heard of this even if you're in biological science because it doesn't really exist but it spectacularly wasted someone's time. He's a professor now, and he still doesn't know what I did yet..I have done worse. If I had been involved in climate science, the horrors I could have perpetrated would have made the current lunacy pale into insignificance.

In my last day-job employment up to 2005,  we ended up smoking outside the fire door at the back of the building. Even then we were told by those who took half-hour coffee breaks twice a day that we were 'costing the business' and we should be docked pay. We took no half-hour coffee breaks. Why spend half an hour in the presence of pompous self-righteous gits when you can spend ten minutes with the smokers? We took less actual time off work than those who spent an hour a day complaining about us.

Now the smoker-bashing is mainstream. More and more companies are taking on the idea that smokers must clock off when going for a smoke. The coffee drinkers and Farcebook users are ecstatic.

So when they have to clock off for coffee breaks, they will no doubt be just as delighted. When the IT department logs their use of Farcebook or YouTube or reading this blog and docks their pay accordingly, they will be almost orgasmic. Come on, it's not a hard thing to implement. Leave your work computer on Farcebook all day and you will not get paid for that day even if you were running your guts out elsewhere. Fair? You are asking a smoker about 'fair'? Get real.

Can't happen? Well, take a look at this. Pretend the smoking ban wasn't just the start if you like. Accept control of the minutiae of your life if that's what you want.

But never, never ask the smokers to help you when it's your turn.

We're on our own. So are you.

Antismokers, Apple, CAMRA and the entire leisure industry don't want us to fight for them. So I won't.


Curmudgeon said...

They can only make people clock off if they are entitled to paid overtime. If their contract stipulates "any hours necessary" it's irrelevant.

tim.bone said...

Is it not strange how these are but distant memories. I had an interview in 1981 at a school on the outskirts of Bristol. I can't remember the name of the place, but you could see the W D & H O Wills factory from the Heads office, and most of the school population were children of the factory's employees. When I went in for my interview, I was offered a cigarette, Embassy of course. I was not successful in the interview, but I enjoyed the cigarette.

Legiron said...

All that goes out the window when they have a smoker in their sights. I was hearing the 'you take smoke breaks' line long before the ban. It was only a matter of time...

Legiron said...

And thirty years later, you won't get an interview if you admit to smoking on the application form...

Ed P said...

Re the perfume/scent link: some scents make me feel nauseous (& it doesn't matter if it's due to psychological or physiological reasons), so I'd rather not endure them in my workplace.  How do you balance my freedom to avoid feeling sick with others' freedom to apply whatever smell they desire?
Also, we had an employee using a spray deodorant near an asthmatic - was their adverse reaction just psychological?

prog said...

Smokers certainly don't owe many favours - they have been well and truly shafted by those who should have smoking ban allies. TBH, I'm rather enjoying seeing them get their comeuppance. I've long since given up on pubs because they are no longer fit for purpose. The irony is that alcohol has always been considerably more expensive in pubs, yet I was prepared to pay extra - for a service. If I have to pay more for supermarket booze I'll still be saving. And home brew, particularly wine, will always be cheap and fairly easy to produce. Nothing for the government either, which in itself improves the taste of the less successful batches. Besides, those can be 'processed' - our local home brew shop sell distillation kits (c.£100).  Haven't tried that yet. In any event the alcohol can easily be isolated by freezing. 

As for home grown tobacco. Easy to grow, a bugger to process. Still working on that....

George Speller said...

Myths worth spreading.
1) The Royal Mint have started to mark pound coins with a radioative tracer to check their circulation.
2) Phosgene smells like new-mown hay because it  _is_  present in new mown hay. Don't let your kids play in park in the summer!

Junican said...

If LI doesn't mind, I've unravelled a lot of the mystery in curing tobacco. If you go to:
You will see, in the sidebar, a summary of methods to dry and cure tobacco quickly.  

prog said...

Thanks, have visited. Looks v good.

Twenty Rothmans said...

It should be compulsory to wear helmets on bicycles.
Also, gloves, thick trousers and high visibility jackets and goggles.
And carry a first-aid kit.

JOHNPIERRE84 said...

Now you sir, talk far too much common sense than is good for you.

Cracking stuff, and so true....cheers.

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