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Surprising baggage.

Surprising Baggage

Slogging toward the lake through the thick green overgrowth in summer woods with my big red dogs tonight, I walked through a cobweb. When I stepped out of the trees and onto the bank of the lake, I looked down and saw a very dead, very dehydrated fly, legs neatly folded against its chest, sticking with spider glue to my white T-shirt. It's always a surprise when you discover yourself carrying around unpleasant baggage that you somehow stumbled into as you moved through the world.

For the past 18 months, the ASAE staff have been engaged in a serious tug-of-war over the issue of smoking in the office. In June the antismokers finally pulled the knot over the puddle and although a date has not been set, we made the decision to ban all smoking in the office in the near future.

In case you don't know, I'm a serious smoker, and the decision made me feel angry, frightened, ashamed, threatened, and violated. I am intellectually sensitive to the issue of second-hand smoke and do somersaults to avoid bothering nonsmokers. But I have felt for some time that some nonsmokers are colossally insensitive to my feelings.

To cushion the impact--on the smokers and productivity--ASAE brought in the Stop Smoking Institute, Silver Spring, Maryland, to offer a two-month clinic to any staffer inclined to attend.

Even the news of the clinic violated my independent sensibilities, and while I felt a sense of duty as part of the management team to support it with my presence, I went with hot blood to the first class.

The instructor, an ex-smoker, used the class to explain that nicotine in tobacco is addictive--physically. The course is rich in self-exploration and uses a variety of techniques to help smokers shake the habit. The core of the process is to wean the user, through a series of changes to progressively lighter brands and a diminishing number of cigarettes a day, away from physical dependence and emotional brand attachment. In the first few classes, I've learned a lot about myself and my habit. I'm paying attention to when, where, and why I smoke. And I'm astonishing myself with some of the answers.

I have a month to go, so the effectiveness of this process for me remains to be seen (see for yourself at the convention this month).

But pass (quit) or fail, I have turned 180 degrees in my feeling about being assaulted by my employer.

The more I understand--really understand--about what I'm doing to myself with my habit, the more I appreciate the intervention of ASAE and my co-workers.

I guess I have every right to sport a dead fly on my chest, but--believe me--if you see one on me, I really do want you to tell me and help me shake it off.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:smoking habit as unnecessary burden in life
Author:Myers, Elissa Matulis
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:column
Date:Aug 1, 1991
Words:470
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