Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Smoke Break

“Can I bum one of those?” asked the guy that works in the financial company upstairs.

“Help yourself,” I answered, milling around near the back door of our office building, warm sunshine beating down on my slightly upturned face.

“Waitaminute…,” he stammered. “This is chalk!”

“Yeah,” I nodded, taking a piece of chalk from my lips and exhaling.

“Why are you ‘smoking’ chalk?”

“I recently read an article about how bad sitting at a desk can be for you.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Well, somehow smokers have worked it out so that they get multiple breaks during the day where they get to get up and go outside for a bit while I’m slaving away upstairs.”

“Yeah, but…”

“So when I take my ‘smoke break’, it allows me to stretch my legs and walk the halls, plus go up and down a couple of flights of stairs. That little bit of exercise really adds up, y’know.”

“Yeah, but…”

“And don’t discount the benefits of a little time in the sunshine. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium and helps form and maintain strong bones. Studies have linked Vitamin D deficiency to a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, several types of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and some autoimmune disorders.”

“Yeah, but…”

“And then there’s the whole concept of a mental break. The benefits of my time away from my workday stress include a mental recess, emotional relief and a physical change of place and pace. It all adds up to a healthy lifestyle.”

“Yeah, but dude… this is chalk.”

“Well,” I explained. “I ran the numbers on smoking and it turns out that the negatives… addiction, cancer, stinky clothes… far outweigh the health benefits of the ‘smoke break’.”


“Chalk,” I grinned.

“Well,” the guy sighed. “At least that explains the hopscotch grid in the parking lot.”


  1. I may have to take up chalking...I need to get up more and walk around at work...this way, I will have a reason!

  2. I miss smoking. But it is a choice between my girlfriend kissing me and smoking. I'm afraid the girlfriend won.

    It's been since last November since I've smoked. OK, I lie. In July I smoked two packs over a long weekend when I was partying with friends. But I didn't smoke before or after that week. Still, I liked smoking. It may have been expensive, given me headaches, made me smell like death, stained my teeth, and burned holes in my clothes but I enjoyed a lot of the habit. I liked blowing smoke around like a fool. I liked gesturing with a cigarette to add emphasis. I liked the forced random social interactions I would have when I ran into other smokers while we huddled outside some building.

    If only chalk would let me blow smoke around like a fool... and other chalkers were forced to congregate in the same spot... it might replace what I miss most of smoking.

  3. Great story.Smoke break: A walk out for fresh air so one can foul it...and relax...

  4. When I was in college I worked at a pizza place where 90% of the employees smoked. They always got a 5 minute smoke break (sometimes more than one), so our manager decided to give all of us non-smokers a "fresh air break". It was kind of corny but I totally appreciated the effort!

    And now 20 years later, I wonder if I could talk my boss into giving fresh air breaks?

  5. That box of chalk should last a few years if you smoke it right!

  6. Nice.
    I used to take a "smoke" break just to actually get my break and be outside and take a little walk. Somehow not needing to smoke had convinced my boss I didn't really need my breaks so I found a way to get them...aaaaand now I have caffeine to fill my breaks with...ahem.

  7. When I worked at a restaurant in high school, my best friend and I would take diet coke breaks. Didn't have to go stand in the rain by the trash bins to do it either.

  8. Love it. As a reformed ex smoker, I still miss the mental little "holiday" the 5 minute smoke break used to give me.

    Off to buy me some chalk!



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