Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Smoking Run

Now that I am back at work, I have lots more stuff to rant about than my gimped up, pity party self!

I used to smoke.  I used to smoke A LOT.  I’m now one of those bitter ex-smokers who think they are better than everyone who says they “can’t” quit.  Please note the “can’t” – I did not say “won’t” – big difference.  I have total respect for someone who says they won’t quit smoking, sure buddy, go ahead, knock yourself out, you are at least being honest.

Smoking was very relaxing to me, I swore up and down that it alleviated stress, and of course, it made me look cool.  Yeah, right!  I’m older, wiser, and have seen the effects of long term smoking on a person’s body and am very glad that I made that decision to quit.   

How did I quit?  Truthfully, I made a promise to a dying man.  I used to work for a family practice physician, old school, the Norman Rockwell guy.  He was a brilliant doctor, but could get on the grouchy side (don’t they all?).  Me, being me, well, I’m the only one allowed to be grouchy, so when he got grouchy with me, I went outside and smoked.  He HATED that!  Dr. W found out that he had an inoperable brain tumor.  He lost the ability to do most things, except swear, which he was good at when he was healthy, he got even better at it as he was dying.  I even learned a few new words!!!  I helped take care of him through the last few months of his life, which are very precious memories now.  I would get him settled and let him know I was going to walk the dog and grab a smoke.  He’d cuss and give me dirty looks.  Finally one day I just told him.  “Dr. W, when you die I will quit smoking.”  Sure, you probably think, that’s cruel, give the guy some hope, tell him he’s going to pull through and beat this thing.  We all knew that wasn’t going to happen, he never lied to his patients as bad as it could be sometimes, I would have never lied to him. 

Rest of that story?  Well, he died. I quit smoking.  Was it easy?  Hell no!  I used Wellbutrin and was threatened by my coworkers with everything from exorcism to murder while I was withdrawing from nicotine addiction.  Another doctor I worked for was a recovering alcoholic (sober over 20 years) – he told me it was easier to quit drinking than smoking. 

Which leads me to today.  I work with several smokers.  Some who say they can’t quit, others who say they won’t, and others who just don’t talk about it.  Did you know that smokers get more breaks than non-smokers?  Of course you non-smokers all know that!  You are sitting at your desks being good little boys and girls while your smoking co-workers are out there more times than you can count.  

Well, one day I counted.  

There is one particular person I work with, and for the sake of privacy and all that, I will call him The Pall Mall Man.  Pall Mall Man is the classic lifetime smoker.  He has that hideous (makes me gag sometimes) cough every morning that, “only a cigarette will make better.”, has the face that looks like a dried up drift wood, and you can smell him way before he gets near you and long after he leaves.  Thank goodness for reed diffusers, and the uncanny knack of being just bitchy enough that no one really wants to come in my office anyway.

Oh yeah, the counting thing.  I’m sure I missed a few, but I swear to you, it was over 30 times the Pall Mall Man went out side to smoke on the day I counted.  30!   Yeah, that’s what I said too.  WTF?  It’s frustrating also knowing this schmuck gets away with this baloney (that’s a whole ‘nother rant).  One of my employees smokes, and she goes out once in the morning, a couple of times on her lunch break, and once in the afternoon – very respectable, and she’s one of the “I can’t quit” bunch. 

I don’t know?  Maybe I’m too hard on the smokers, and need to remember more that once I was among them and had more than my fair share of breaks.  But, come on…really?  30?

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