Does it seem smokers have more "rights" than non-smokers?

Posted by on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I worked the Election on Monday... and under my supervision were 28 "employees" of Elections Canada.  Each of these people went through the same 3-4 hour training as I did for their particular positions (I did an extra 4 hours as a supervisor)... everyone knew how important their jobs were, the expectations, and some of the pitfalls to working a 12-14 hour day.

I had 26 awesome employees.  And two duds not-so-awesome employees.

I had one 16-year-old (this was the first year that you didn't have to be 18 to work the election), and in my opinion, the person wasn't ready for a) work in general, b) the expectations that would be placed on her, or c) showing a level of maturity required for such an important process.  But that aside, I think with some more "life experience" under her belt, she'll be fine - just maybe not in future election jobs.

I also had one employee who felt that it was their "right" to take a smoke break every 15 minutes (to the point that she ran out of "real" cigarettes and had to start "rolling", and that they were probably on break more than they were working) which started to hold up the process.  The person left their immediate co-worker high and dry on a number of occasions throughout the day (I was constantly having to track the person down outside) which left the process not running as smoothly as it did with all of my other poll divisions.

Why is it that it was the only smoker in the room who caused these issues?  Why is it the inherent "right" of the smoker that because they chose to become addicted to nicotine that they deserve more breaks than anyone else in the room?  Why did I get constant eye-rolling every time I had to go out and grab the person to do the work that they were being paid to do?  And why did I get the blame for them "wasting" cigarettes throughout the day because I made them butt-out to come back to work at least half a dozen times.

The day is long.  I called each of the workers the night before and let them know that a) there was kitchen facilities available to them throughout the day, b) to pack everything that they would need as they were not allowed to leave the facilities and c) that if they had questions they could contact me before the election or during the day.  I also reminded them that it would be a long day, and to get a lot of sleep.

They were told in training all of this same stuff (with the exception of the kitchen facilities - we were lucky to have that) and they were told that it is a long day.  They were also informed that they may not be able to break at key times of the day due to demand, unless competely necessary (like they were going to pee their pants). They were also given the option to back out at that time if they didn't feel like they could handle the demands of the day.  Elections Canada is very good at letting you know many of the issues that you will be faced with so that you can get a fairly accurate idea of what is expected of you.

But after all that, it still boiled down to issues with my one smoker.  All the other people managed to take quick breaks to warm up food, go to the bathroom or stand by the open door to get a quick breath of fresh air that didn't effect the process.  But it was the one smoker who caused the most grief, didn't work as much or as hard as the other employees, and caused the most back-up in the process - especially at 7:15 when they decided they needed yet another smoke break fifteen minutes before the polls closed for the day.

Is it any shock that I have little to no respect for smokers?

7 Comments

  1. hmmm i dont think its so much the smoking as a simple lack of work ethic. I smoke, and i dont feel the need to take breaks all the time, but watch as others seem to do it.

    I also encourage my girls to take non smoking smoke breaks. Everyone deserves breaks!

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  2. Yes - you're definitely right about that - I guess I just notice more with a lack of work ethic and correlate that with their extended smoke breaks.

    I definitely know more than enough people who just dick off at their desks too!

    And yes - everyone needs to get up, stretch and get away from their desks!! Very important!

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  3. My stance on smoke breaks: They are completely ludacris and shouldn't exist.

    If an employee has a designated break that they would like to spend smoking, go for it. But smokers should not get more breaks than a non-smoker.

    Ever.

    It just doesn't make sense.

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  4. Anonymous5:51 PM

    Smoke break was just their excuse to be a lazy worker.
    When I went to vote at the elections, I saw more than one incompetent employee there. It was like they didn't even know how to direct people to the right lines. So useless. I felt bad that you had to supervise

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  5. That's always irritated me. If I wanted to go sit outside for 15 minutes and stare at the sky, I would be viewed as lazy. No one says anything about smokers though.

    It used to be really bad at my company because we had a hardcore smoker as a founder. He allowed smoking in offices (he smoked in the building), which is gross to everyone else, but I wonder if he did it so people stayed at their desks!

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  6. Anonymous7:51 PM

    I have never known a company that gives more breaks to smokers, if you smoke than you do it on your scheduled break, If someone is lazy and not doing their job its because they are lazy, not because they are a smoker.

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  7. No - no company "gives" more breaks to smokers... but the majority of smokers I have worked with say things like "well, instead of one 15 minute break, I take three five minute breaks". Yeah - if they don't count the time they're scrounging for their cigarettes, gathering their smoke buddies, walking to the "smoke pit", and then meandering back... which really means that three five minute breaks just turned into three fifteen minute breaks. I wish I had worked with a smoker that would break that view I have of them, but I can't think of one in 20 years of working...

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