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Each year the equivalent of a small city dies...

Sam North
Happy smoking? Just don't read the slogans on the cigarette packs, they might kill you.

The warning is right there on the packet. You never smoke alone 'someone is sharing your air'. The warnings are on the bus, the trains and in every restaurant. You can’t do that here don’t you know ‘tobacco smoke hurts babies’, are you stupid ‘where’s there’s smoke there’s hydrogen cyanide’.
It’s probably meant to scare smokers to death. If so it isn’t very effective. There’s probably fifteen million Canadians standing outside their place of work, school, restaurant or shopping mall smoking furiously before they go back in and breathe the ‘pure’ air.

Now there are statistics that prove that public sector workers are the most likely to be smokers, develop lung or heart diseases and be absent from work for ‘health’ related problems. (Particularly in Montreal.) There are statistics I say, but I’m not trotting them out here because there is a new phenomenon out there that hasn’t yet got a warning on the packet. It’s called in-house training. Every company has a human resource department (even if they still call it personnel).
They used to be the people you bitch to when problems occur with your pay packet and that’s all. But now management are using them as a ‘tool’ to retrain, reshape and trim the workforce. This workforce that is usually standing outside in the rain in training to ‘kill babies’ and enjoying their hourly fix of ‘hydrogen cyanide’.

(Imagine trying to get cigarettes through the FDA new drugs approval scheme now –Anything we should know? ‘Yeah well there’s just a little nicotine in there, a portion of cyanide, just a few side-effects, we see it as a lifestyle shortening assistant - who do we have to pay off?)

Human Resources are a different kind of enemy, but one just as deeply engrained in our society with fundamental long-term health side effects.
Recently a company that shall be nameless, but they are large and have something of a monopoly on telephones in Canada, decided to retrain their staff to be more responsive and consumer friendly.

It worked, the staff are more friendly and they smile a lot now as they tell you that you can have anything you want, but not yet, not for quite a while actually. Old hands tell me that in the old days it was like Moscow central in there, no smiles, lousy service and you never got what you wanted. Now it is all change. You can have almost anything as long as you don’t want it now and are prepared to wait. Waiting isn’t something Canadians like to do, as it happens. Americans won’t wait at all and Brits would rather wait than anything else, as long as they are not being billed for it.

Of course this Canadian company probably made contact with British Telecom back in the UK and asked how long people were prepared to wait for new phones and ADSL lines and when they found out promptly lowered their service to match BT. It’s the new thing. Lower your service to match your competitors. I kind of hope it doesn’t catch on, particularly in the aircraft building companies.

So I can’t get a new phone line or ADSL for around three weeks, but that’s OK because the staff smiled at me when they said it. That’s fine. The training worked. I just surrendered. No point in blowing a fuse or going to AT&T – you’d just meet people coming the other way. Of course when you get worked up most people just want to light up a cigarette, but I’m staring at this slogan that says ‘Cigarettes cause strokes’. Thanks a lot. I slink away towards an endless line waiting for the bus in pouring rain and there in the gutter is another empty packet of cigs emblazoned with ‘Cigarettes cause mouth diseases’. Nice picture guys, taking that one to my grave.

Maybe I should stop for a coffee and calm down. In Vancouver, where only the bravehearted dare smoke, the stress is building and there’s a rumour that there’s so much caffeine in the water around the city the fish are acting strange. But hey, that’s OK because guess what, with Seattle and Vancouver fishermen taking out 180,000 tonnes of hake this year, never mind quotas on all the other species, there won’t actually be any fish next year, so that’s another problem solved hey?
They tell me this city has the least smokers in all of Canada -but that almost all of them are teenagers and old chinese men. Knowing teens I think they should be switching the slogans to
'Smoking is good for you' or 'Smoking makes you fat
' a little psychology here might just make inroads here in teen weed habits. There's no hope at all for the Chinese men they already know it helps you live forever.

© Sam North July 2002

Vancouver City of clean air and empty seas. It’s your future they’re selling.
PS Ranting on the other hand is very stress relieving

So you want to be a Canadian see New Canadians start here

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