toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

June 02, 2012

Toxic workplace drinking culture

When Benet started work at a law firm thirty years ago she neither smoked nor drank but it was evident to her way back then that tobacco was going out of fashion and that alcohol was becoming the drug of choice for the beautiful people – introducing her to a toxic workplace drinking culture.

"I had an ashtray on my desk, just like everybody else," says Benet, "but we used them for paperclips and rubber bands rather than cigarette ash."

"The office manager made it pretty plain to me that she didn't like smokers," laughs Benet, "and it didn't take me long to work out why this was so and what her drug of choice was -- alcohol."

"Back in those day, offices weren't fully air conditioned like they are now," explains Benet. "If you didn't have a window in your office you had to breathe some really stale, stinky air."

"Unfortunately, all of the heavy smoking old lawyers had poky little airless rooms at the back of the building and it was really bad news when I had to go back there," laughs Benet. "I'd come back and hang out the window for a few minutes gasping to get some fresh air."

"So, smoking was an issue way back then, and -- just like today -- rather than tackling the ventilation problem it was easier to shun the smokers."

"It was in that job that I learned how to drink like a fish," sighs Benet. "With my boss lady and the youngish non-smoking lawyers -- the 'beautiful people' -- I'd come back drunk from long lunches, and I'd start work with terrible hangovers after nights on the town with them, too."

"It was all very exciting for a young girl," says Benet, "but soon I became really sick with stomach aches and jitters and was told to stop drinking otherwise I'd turn into an alcoholic with a cirrhotic liver."

"I achieved that milestone by changing my job," explains Benet, "and eventually, in a better ventilated environment, I took up smoking with my new work colleagues in order to calm my nerves more than anything else."

"And then some fifteen years smoking was banned in all buildings and most people quit smoking altogether,” sighs Benet, β€œand now workplaces have a more toxic drinking culture than ever!”

Read more by Benet on this issue:

  • tobacco vs. alcohol
  • Quit smoking leads to alcoholism?

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