Thursday, September 14, 2006

Smoking Benefits...

OK, firstly, I want you guys to be clear about one thing - Smoking Is Bad. And I knows it. But yes, there ARE benefits of smoking too.

A lot of people has asked me why I started smoking and why didn't I quit since I know it is bad and all. The fact is, I can actually stop smoking at any given time and I can last for months or years without it. So why?

Before I explain, let's go way back to my school days. Some of my friends around me smoke when not within the school compound. Does it make me curious? Not at all. In fact, it looked awful to see a kid in school uniform smoking a cigarette in a town bus. Plus it drains your stamina, which is very bad for me because I was very active in sports. That's why I was never tempted and graduated high school without a single puff.

During my high school days, I was Orchestra Leader in the Chinese Instrumental Group. Sometime after graduation, I was invited back by my juniors to watch the national chinese instrumental group competition in Penang.(It was going to be history, because the following year they would take part of it, it's a FIRST. So they decided to watch the show, to see what they're up against.) I was there to counsel and provide adult supervision to those kids. After the show on the first day, I hung out with a junior and long time friend Carson, at the balcony. He was smoking away and we had a nice talk about our musical group.

Now, as I mentioned before, I often have people pour out their souls to me, telling me their life story naturally, and he was no different. (I don't want to brag, but I just have this aura that makes people tell me things :) ). I love listening to stories about other people so I let him talk. But mid-way through our conversation, when it comes to personal details, he just wouldn't commit further after that. So I tried another approach, I took one of his cigarettes and lit it. I could never forget the look on Carson's face, while exclaiming "Hey! I didn't know you smoked too!". It's as if he found a long-lost brother.:) So then, he opened up, and told me everything about himself from his childhood till his present days.

Side note: That was actually my first puff. And surprisingly, I didn't even choke or cough from the smoke going through my trachea and lungs for the first time. It seemed...natural. As if I had been smoking for a long time. (Which is one of the reasons why it seemed convincing to Carson) All these years of thinking "i wonder how it feels to be smoking" and the conclusion that I get is..... dissapointing. It was nothing really. Other than the slight high you get in your head after each puff, it was a waste of time.

Many years after that, I took from this experience with me when I started working. I find that it helped me a great deal where ever I go.

On my first job I worked at a Civil Engineering company, where I was site supervisor, I was in charge of inspecting the R.C. frame contruction. Same thing -> the contractor talked with me professionally, nothing more. Then I took one of his ciggarettes, and he began to tell me about his wife, and kids automatically .... and also where he cheated on the materials. (I later advised him to repair it, because it may cause the building to collapse, in which he obeyed willingly). Every visit to the site, he would indulge lots of tips and tricks of the building construction world to me, and I learned a lot. I did the same to my peers, the trainees, the site workers, other engineers etc. And I get positive results and "inside stories" on just about anything, related to work or not. A year later, I was many years ahead of anyone with the same position as I am in terms of knowledge and skill. Thanks to my secret weapon - the cigarette. I didn't only use this at work, even at social functions. It's a sure-fire icebreaker.

The reason behind this is simple:
Smokers are shunned in the eyes of the society. You see a kid smoking - it's a teen-gangster. You see a man smoking - he's crude and rude. You see a women smoking - she's a tramp and a vamp. You always see "No Smoking" signs everywhere. Parents see smoking as a weakness. The image of smokers are never nice here in Asia.

By pulling out the cigarette and smoking with them, they feel as if they found another comrade in distress. Smokers are like a groupie of their own. As a result of this exclusion, smokers tend to group in certain places e.g. fire escape stairways, lobby areas, smoking rooms etc. And it is in these "smoking meetings" people meet and talk, because it's rare you get a break like this. Now the "comrade in distress" mentality does not take place all the time, but it's the opportunity to meet people that counts. Sometimes business propositions may even take place. I have rubbed shoulders with many CEOs and Execs at stairways where we learn about each other's businesses.

Additionally, smoking gives me an excuse to take a few minutes of my work, go out and take few minutes break. Now office administrators deemed that this is a sign of low-productivity as it takes time off from work. But I consider this as a lower offence compared to other "crimes" such as repairing make-up, getting up to make coffee often, long breaks at the pantries during tea-break, surfing porn when no-one is looking, checking (junk) mail, walking around looking for chat-mates, checking/sending personal SMS, etc etc.

So do you still think that these are reasons enough to be called "benefits of smoking?". Well, these are just my personal experience on how smoking have benefited me. :)

And actually, I'm in the midst of a resolution to stop smoking now. Because my current work does not require for me to smoke at all. (I'm a system administrator and programmer now, and my job requires me to be on my desk at most times. So I don't get to meet people outdoors much) Hopefully it pans out this time.

I'll be starting on another blog entry on other ...err.... "benefits" of smoking. I'll let you decide on that one. :D

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