As stressful as today’s engineering environment can be, or maybe that’s just my office, it pales in comparison for this non-smoker when smoking in the workplace was commonplace. That’s right, as late as the late 1980’s, smoking in the offices was an accepted practice. The manufacturing areas were off-limits to the lighted cigarette, but everywhere else was fair game.
Working as I did in the Carolina’s where tobacco was the cash crop, smoking was accepted by most as a force to contend with. Times have changed, but the ‘old school’ attitude put non-smokers in the minority.
The plant manager at the South Carolina plant was an interesting fellow. He was for all intents and purposes a chain smoker. I always hated to sit through meetings with the guy. An hour long meeting meant a few lungs full of second hand smoke (a term yet to be invented in the 1980’s).
A couple of chemical engineers thought it perfectly proper to suggest to him that meetings become non-smoking events. Great suggestion, but the plant manager didn’t think so. Chalk it up to ‘how to lose a career in one suggestion’.
I worked with a designer who smoked and his drafting table located in the back corner of the room meant there was no escaping his exhales. I usually asked for a copy of his prints to review in my smoke-free office.
Smokers always seem to get by with more breaks than those of us who don’t. Sitting in a chair, cigarette in one hand, contemplating the work in front of them worked as a good vision that they were busy. Today, smokers leave the area to designated smoking areas. Same concept, in a lot of ways, gone from your desk must mean you are communicating with your co-workers or in the restroom. Both acceptable in work terms. Standing outside, BS’ing? Not so much.
Then there were the construction dudes who preferred to take their tobacco with them and dipped and chewed. Yea, that was pretty disgusting. I’ve noticed some of today’s smokers have taken up this habit in order to get their nicotine ‘fix’ at their desk.
Having only tried one cigarette during college and hating it and losing my father to complications caused by his years of smoking, I’ve thoroughly embraced the non-smoking movement. It seems like distant memories of working in a smoke-filled room, but that’s fine with me. I’m healthier and not as distracted when collaborating with co-workers. It’s good to think and produce with a clear mind and lungs.