toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

June 13, 2010

smelly co-workers

Carmel is the only smoker at work and she is annoyed that her co-workers deliberately come up close and smell her for a slight waft of cigarette odor on her clothes and hair after she returns from her lunch break.

"I'm 51 and a long-term smoker and I respect the laws in relation to cigarette smoking and reasonably expect non-smokers to respect my right to do as I please in my own time and space," says Carmel, "but my workplace is run by jackbooted nicotine Nazis who constantly harass me - telling me I stink."

"Sometimes the nicotine Nazis are ex-smokers who, like alcoholics, have a daily battle to abstain from their addiction," explains Carmel. "Some ex-smokers are driven crazy by the faintest whiff of cigarette odor. However, most ex-smokers I know outside of my workplace are very tolerant of smokers."

"The worst type of nicotine Nazi is an older woman who has to deal with a smoking man at home," says Carmel. "This type of woman finds it easier to vent her bile on someone she sees as an easy target at work."

"Non-smokers, especially those who went through the education system in the 1980s, are also tyrants about smoking," sighs Carmel. "They adopt an ‘I am superior to you’ attitude and see smokers as disgusting, weak-willed, stupid and unfit to work alongside them."

"Honestly," sighs Carmen, "if given half a chance the nicotine Nazis would put us all in concentration camps and applaud the smoke that rises from the chimney stacks. Don't kid yourself that we're a civilized society - we're not. Scratch the average Joe or Jane at work and there's a little jackbooted storm-trooper waiting for another Hitler to give sanction to their murderous desires."

"I try my best to ignore them," says Carmel. "What I do in my own time is none of their business. However, if a smoker is stuck in a place where nobody else smokes she will need a really thick hide to cope with being shunned, sneered at and lectured on what a filthy habit she has."

"I didn’t raise smoking as an issue when I was being interviewed for this job," says Carmel, "I didn’t think it was relevant. So, if I have to quit my job because of nicotine Nazi harassment then it's going to be very important for me to speak up at interviews in order to avoid this scene again."

"There must be workplaces out there that are tolerant of smokers and provide pleasant smoking areas for staff outside the building," says Carmel. "It’s just a matter of hunting around and finding them."

Read more by Carmel on this issue:

  • workplace nicotine nazis

  • sniffing out smokers

  • rights and responsibilities

  • Is smoking a choice or a need?
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