Have you ever observed people who take smoke breaks? I have a pretty good view from my office window of the area where the smoker's from the office building congregate to light up. Most of the time it annoys me. I think of healthcare costs, how smokers effect group rates and hinder the progress of wellness plans.
However, there are those days when I remove my attention from my computer screen and I watch as a stranger exits the building, shoulders high, neck tight, face strained. He leans against the side of the brick building and digs in his pocket for a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I can tell he's trying to be patient but his fingers fumble the pack and the lighter in anticipation for the fix. Next, he slips the end of a cigarette inside the very outside edge of his lips and lights the end of the cig. He breathes in heavilyand quickly, holds his breath and slooooowwwwwlllllyyyyyy releases the smoke. And he melts. His shoulders, neck and face relax. He stands up a little taller and no longer leans on the building seemingly defeated.
It's days like this, when I take it all in that I think if not for the health risks and obvious addiction issues, I would be a smoker. In a perfect world, that little nicotine filled cylinder would just help you melt. It wouldn't cause cancer or emphysema or birth defects and it wouldn't smell terrible or cause you to age and wrinkle more quickly. It would just allow you to leave your desk for 15 minutes every 3 1/2 hours to melt away the stress.
I am jealous of smokers. It's as if in this culture you have to have a vice in order to get a break. They get breaks in addition to a 30 minute to 1 hour lunch and two 15 minute breaks. Anytime they have the need to get their fix, they can walk outside for an additional 15 minutes and release their day with the smoke.
While this may seem like I am supporting cigarette addiction, I am not. It's just one of those things I think about on days when the work day seems never-ending, when employment law is so extreme that a small business just can't win, when employees take advantage of the kindness of a God fearing company and when the negative emails about benefits, salaries, time off, ergonomic chairs and what brand of coffee we should buy for the breakroom keep rolling in.
Later, I usually see one of my case studies, who earlier in the day I was jealous of, leave the building for the day. We walk in close proximity to our cars and he suddently stops to hack-ack-AAACK-huhrgle-ugh, his throat gurgling with phlegm and who knows what else. A handsome 30 something man who sounds like a monster and who, in a few years, will look much older than his years. And then the appeal has worn off and I think about what I could do to release the day, besides pray, of course.
Today, one of my brothers invited me to dinner and a movie. That sounds more fun than smoking a cigarette and I'm sure by the end of the night my face won't look so strained and I can start fresh tomorrow.