- Disabilities & the Disabled
Some People Get All the Breaks
The last time I actually lit up and puffed on a tobacco product was sometime around 1995 when I shared a cigar with my dad while fishing on a family farm pond in Missouri. His cigars always seemed “seasoned” and had a unique flavor to them. I enjoyed them. Before then, I hadn’t smoked since 1975, my senior year in high school. My dad began smoking corn silks when he was 12, then moved up to tobacco when he was around 14. That was in 1936, and he never looked back. He smoked up until the day he died of smoking related issues in 1999.
But I’m not going to write about the dangers of smoking here, everybody knows what they are. I guess I am going to focus more on the annoyance of smoking, especially to us non-smokers that really can’t understand it all. With the advent of all of the new “smoke-free” legislature, smoking isn’t as annoying as it once was.
Steve Martin, the comedian, came out with a routine in the 1970’s about smoking. He said that he hated the way people would rudely pull out a cigar in a restaurant and say “Mind if I smoke?” He came up with an equally annoying comeback: “Why, no. Do you mind if I fart? It’s one of my habits. They have a special section for me on airplanes now! You know, after sex I really have the urge to light one up!”
But with that bit of humor aside, I find myself a bit discontented when working side by side with smokers. Being in a cold environment at work, the smell doesn’t really bother me. What bothers me the most are the numerous smoke breaks that these smokers take throughout the day.
Our company policy specifies that each hourly employee is allowed one 10 minute break after every two hours of work. So that works out to 1 morning break and 1 afternoon break. But our smokers seem to get to take a break whenever the urge seems to hit them. One person, a manager, has taken as many as 8 breaks a day, and nobody will enforce the rules because the upper echelon people are all smokers.
“What does it matter to you?” you might ask. Nothing really, except when you have deadlines to meet which require a team effort 100% of the time, and the non-smokers are left doing 75% of the work. Perhaps I should take Steve’s advice and take a few extra “fart breaks”. It’s something to think about.
I have always instilled the dangers of smoking to my kids, and nearly none of them smoke, although kids being kids, they dabbled. The one that smokes is my oldest daughter, who is also developmentally disabled. She is like Forrest Gump with a really bad attitude. One day she produced a Zippo lighter and a pack of cigarettes. Somebody at her day program had been teaching her to smoke.
Sammie and I were livid. We went out searching for the teacher, counselor or staff member that taught our daughter to smoke, but were stopped cold in our tracks when we discovered that it was another disabled individual that had introduced her to tobacco. This “savvy” individual also taught her about her own personal rights and that she had a right to smoke if she wanted to.
We researched all of this and came up stumped. If our daughter wanted to smoke, then because she was over 21, she could smoke. She had her own state money coming in, so she would buy her own cigarettes (which was a good thing for her, because I was not about to contribute to her “addiction”). But then one month she ran out of money and didn’t have enough cigarettes. I refused to buy her any, and told her that she needed to be resourceful and come up with her own. What she came up with was disgusting.
One day while Sammie and I were shopping, our daughter disappeared. She had already been admonished by the both of us for “bumming a smoke” from people, so we were confident she wasn’t doing that. While looking for her, Sammie caught her digging through ashtrays and pocketing the butts for later use. With that habit added to the first one, she now had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. We butted heads, but got nowhere. Doctors tried to explain the added health risks to her, which the least of the risks was Hepatitis-C. Her mind was closed to options.
So after much discussion, Sammie and I caved. We now make sure that she has plenty of fresh cigarettes, and buy her more if she runs out. It is better than letting her smoke some disease found in a stranger’s spit.
Now this brings me full circle back to my dad’s great cigars with that “seasoned taste”. I walked up on him one day as he was sitting on a bench next to the pond. He had a line in the water, and had all of his cigars lying unwrapped on the bench in the sun. He offered me one, and as I lit up and drew in that first puff, I watched him open another package of the stogies. He took each one and put it in his mouth, rolled it around until it was thoroughly soaked with spit and laid it in the sun on the bench.
“What’re you doing?” I asked.
“I’m seasoning my cigars.” He replied. “Been doing it this way for 20 years.”
©2011 By Del Banks