I work very hard and am attending college to obtain my degree in the Human Service field. Writing makes me feel alive and gives me the opportunity to touch those whom I would not be able to otherwise. Last but not least, I have been blessed with two amazing daughters who love me completely and support my dreams. Feel free to contact me with questions, concerns or feedback.
I recall as a young girl that smoking in our household was a normal occurrence. My parents probably smoked two packs a day, each. The cigarettes were always in our kitchen cupboard, above the telephone. Way back then, our phone had an actual cord on it. For those of us who remember way back then, it would be somewhere between rotary dial and cordless. Or, as my daughters would say, somewhere between the birth of Christ and Napoleon Dynamite.
I recall smoking being a part of my life and most of my friend’s lives as well. Statistics state that if your parents smoked, chances are, you will smoke as well. Believe it or not, out of the four girls in my own family, only one has chosen that path. I have to admit, though, that a couple of years ago I met someone who I became great friends with. She was a smoker, I was not. Yet, each and every Friday, she would offer, and I would decline. Yet, after a couple of months, I decided to try one. I mean, it had been since my first attempt in high school, so what the heck, right? I inhaled, and immediately felt light headed. It felt good. Since our night out was Friday, I noticed that I could not wait until that night. I just had to have that cigarette, or two. I made a very difficult decision and quit cold turkey. Sure, it was not as if I was hard core, but it could have gotten there eventually.
I am so glad I have chosen to be smoke free. I feel great and from what I hear, life smells so much better. I know that at least regarding this aspect, hopefully I will be cancer free within certain areas of my body. I am not sure about the second hand smoke from childhood, but so far so good. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to quit. It’s hard enough switching from regular to diet Mountain Dew.
I believe it’s a choice to smoke. I understand completely the draw and feeling it gives you. I also know it will eventually become an addiction for most if not curbed soon enough. Most smokers will tell you they can’t get out of bed without a cigarette, or soon thereafter. I can’t imagine, but I have seen it firsthand. Yet, I wonder. What I really wonder about most is why employers allow those who choose to smoke numerous breaks throughout the day without consequences.
I have worked in corporate America for most of my adult life. I am told with each orientation that if I work an 8 hour shift, I am allowed two 15 minute breaks and a lunch break. My hours have varied, but have primarily been 8:00am until 5:00pm. This means I can take two breaks, usually at 10am and 2pm. My lunch went from 12pm until 1pm. I feel this is more than what I deserve, but it’s a fair trade. Sometimes given the amount of work, it is nice knowing you can step away from your desk for a few minutes without repercussions. Yet, look around. Joe and Suzie, smokers by trade, are heading out, once an hour, for a cigarette (or three). When Manager Dave stops by, he looks for Joe and Suzie. They were probably the only ones in charge of the project or answer a question he may have. Now, they are nowhere to be found so who’s the next guy or girl in line? Well, it’s me of course!
I mean, I know Joe and Suzie need a cigarette, but I also need to get my work done. I really need to have uninterrupted time to concentrate on what is most important. Yet, while Joe and Suzie stand outside for their cigarette(s) on any given day, can we be honest for a moment? I love to go outside and enjoy a nice sunny day. They say if you want to ensure Vitamin D, stand outside in the sun for at least 15 minutes a day. When I am out basking in the warmth, I hesitate and really don’t look forward to the lunch hour ending. Yet, Joe and Suzie not only get their recommended amount of sun, they get that and so much more. Drag on that cancer stick just a little longer than normal. Go ahead. Don’t worry about me. I will do your job as well as mine.
I realize that companies are cutting back on costs. They hire and pay financial advisors to come up with a plan. Hey, Mr. Owner of the Company, I have a tip for you. Instead of paying someone hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to figure this out, listen up. If you are looking to cut costs, why not deduct time from those who waste precious company time smoking. I mean, since they are usually taking 2 additional hours of breaks every day to feed their habit, it could help to keep others on the job. Or, better yet, since Joe and Suzie can complete their work in 6 hours, cut their hours and let them go at 3pm.
Let’s look at this from a financial standpoint. If you pay Suzie $17.00 per hour, and she works 40 hours a week, her gross annual income is $35,360.00. Now, let’s cut that down to the actual hours worked. Let’s say we take out 2 hours per day. Cut out 10 hours a week and now she is paid $17.00 per hour at a 30 hour work week. Her gross annual income is now $26,520.00. That is a difference of $8,840.00. Multiply that times 4 workers and you would have an adjusted annual difference of $35,360.00. You can now keep more full time employees and avoid actual layoffs.
I know this sounds drastic, but fair is fair, right? Why is it that smokers are allowed breaks at their leisure when everyone else had to be accountable to every minute of every day?
Better yet, another solution would be this, incent those who do not smoke. Give them more time off, which has been earned, or greater pay raises. Give them a free membership to the local gym. Offset their monthly health costs by increasing company contribution. Show them you appreciate the fact that they value the time they are paid.
Last but not least, we can avoid doing the work of cutting hours and incenting others by just making one new rule. No additional breaks for smoking. Smoke during your allotted break times. Break times will be from 10:00-10:15am and from 2:00-2:15pm. If you choose to smoke outside of these allotted break times, disciplinary action will be taken. A first offense will result in a write up. Second offense results in decrease of hours. Third offense results in termination. This may sound severe, but with the thousands of unemployed persons, I know there are many non-smokers who are willing and able to fill your position at this time.
I know you have a habit, an addiction as some call it, but that is your problem. Don’t make it mine. I know many of you may disagree, but give me a break. If you were in my position, what would you suggest? When it comes down to it, you may have chosen to smoke, but you also signed up for this job. Like Michael Jordan says, “Just do it”!