The Smoke Break

There’s one thing I can always count on when I visit the local Fred Meyer: A group of employees will be standing a few feet from the entrance puffing on cigarettes.

I’m so accustomed this gang of uniformed smokers that I keep an eye out for them when looking for a parking spot. If they are grouped together on the right side of the door, I’ll look for a spot on the left and vice versa.

Sometimes the gang is so large that I can’t avoid their fast moving smoke cloud. Nothing like a nice blast of second hand smoke to the face before heading to the produce section to thump a few cantaloupe.

It shouldn’t be this way.

I don’t know why more business owners don’t designate smoking areas AWAY from where customers can see them. Maybe such areas exist but are not enforced.

If you had an employee with a perpetual flatulence problem, would you have him greet each potential customer with a stink bomb? Yet that’s basically what you’re doing when you allow your employees to blow smoke around the entrance.

Fred Meyer employees are not the only culprits. I’ve pulled up to restaurants only to see a couple of employees sitting on the curb smoking not 20 feet from the entrance. My first thought is, “Are either of those two going to prepare my food?” Lately, I just keep on driving and take my business elsewhere.

Although I find the thought of smoking repulsive, I understand I live in a country where people have the freedom to suck on cancer sticks. What I do not appreciate is having to breath in the pollution this gross habit produces.

As much as I like Fred Meyer, I will take my business elsewhere the next time I notice the chain gang of smokers near the entrance.

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17 thoughts on “The Smoke Break

  1. Have you sent this info. to the management there? My wife happened to fill out a comment card there once about something that concerned her as well and she actually got a call back from the store manager letting her know what they were doing to respond to her comment card concerns.


  2. Hear! Hear!

    Kroger (Fred Meyer’s parent) in our area has gotten the message and the smoker’s table is at the end of the building away from customer traffic.

    We complained regularly to management. Since we often go to different Kroger stores, we think they felt there was a “bunch” of complaints.

    I think they had to negotiate a new union contract to get it done, but you might give it a try… or maybe this post will get somebody’s attention.

    And don’t overlook the “contact us” on their website!
    Good luck!


  3. I feel very strongly about this issue. In Canada we have passed laws in most provinces that make it illegal to smoke within 100 feet of an entrance and no place where there are children, even outdoors. Except that people won’t always stick to this edict, of course and in that case I don’t hesitate in telling them to move it. It embarrasses my husband but I don’t care.

    Why is it considered poor manners for me to say something to a smoker but it’s okay for them to cause me physical pain because of their addiction? What if I stood at a store entrance and just started punching people in the face? At least that doesn’t have long lasting cancer/allergy/asthma after effects.

    I’m sensitive even to third hand smoke: that which is in furniture at my in-laws or that which sticks to the clothes of smokers. It makes me nauseous and lightheaded. Nevermind that it makes me stink too.

    I could profess my indignation all day.


  4. I’m like you and though I think if you want or need to smoke it needs to be done away from the entrances.

    That being said, I am a cigar smoker and I have at times sat outside while my wife went in to shop, smoking my cigar. I made sure I was not near the entrance and tried to distance myself from others. I realize it’s not for everyone. Though I have to tell you I have had many a people, men and women both who have commented on the great smell of the cigar I would be smoking.


  5. Count your blessings, man! I would love it if I only ad to dodge smoke at the entrance to a Freddies.
    We are living in the Balkans right now, where apparently they missed the public health memo on “Smoking is REALLY bad for you. (No, REALLY.)” About half of all Bulgarians smoke, and it is impossible to avoid. I attend medical school here, and I would venture to say that a majority of my medical student friends smoke! Unbelievable.
    It’s horrible. The amount of tracheal surgeries and lung issues here are almost incalculable. Good for business, if you are a pulmonologist or an ENT, I guess.
    Hmmm. I really don’t have a lot to add to this conversation, now that I read what I’ve written… other than to say that it could be a whole lot worse!


  6. I encounter the same smelly situation near the entrance of 2 different Target stores near me. The trick is to find the right combination of timing, speed and wind direction for entering the store!


  7. Ohhh! This reminds me of something that happened to me a few years ago. I was at the drive through at Taco Bell. As I sat in line I watched one of their employees sitting on the curb smoking and desperately picking his nose. I watched him carefully, HOPING that he would not go back in and be the one to fix my food. Just as I pulled up to the window, I saw him get up, walk into the restaurant, and go straight back to the food prep table and start to fix tacos!! Not even stopping for a second to wash his hands. I was mortified. I canceled my order, parked my car and went in to talk to the manager who was completely defensive and told me that he was certain that his employee had washed his hands. I asked him if he (the manager) had indeed seen him wash his hands and of course he said no but “that’s our policy and so I’m sure he washed them first!”

    I have never returned to that Taco Bell.


    1. @Maryanne
      That makes me sick. I will never be able to look at the “Fully Loaded” Nachos again without thinking of your story, Maryanne.


  8. No kidding! I’ve noticed this at fast food restaurants too…while going through the drive-thru. The cooks are in the back smoking and then you know they just go right back in and flip burgers without washing their hands. We ate at Quiznos last week and were so grossed out by the workers that we vowed to never eat there again. I took three bites of my sandwich and dumped it. People are just gross. And yes, I’ve walked through my share of smoke screens at big box stores.


  9. If you look out at the parking lot at Fred Meyer over toward the stop light, there is a “canopy” set up with a bench under it for them. I noticed it go in several months back and thought, “oh good, they won’t smoke by the door anymore.” Looks like it’s time to fill out one of those comment cards.
    And hear, hear Natasha, it’s not rude to ask them to keep there addiction to themselves.


  10. @Mike
    I work with a number of people who make the effort to smoke away from the entrances. They are sensitive to the rest of us who do not work. I don’t mean to classify every smoker as inconsiderate as many go out of their way to make sure their habit does not affect others. I’m just surprised that some business owners fail to recognize how even one or two inconsiderate employees can adversely affect their business.


  11. @Veronica Sopher
    That’s too bad you’ve experienced the same thing at Target. I wonder where the threshold is where the store is high end enough to curtail the smoking. I also expect to see it at Wal-Mart or All-a-Dollar, but not Nordstrom.


  12. Yet another reason I like living in California. There would be an open rebellion here if employees did anything like that. Once, Lance complained to Whole Foods that a guy in produce was dropping f-bombs all loud-like…but that’s about it on the scandal scale.


  13. Our group of smokers have to smoke the sidewalk next to the newspaper. Its great for making the building smoke-free but tough to walk over to the little store for a beverage.
    It reminds me of the old days in high school when the smokers used to smoke across the street at the library.


  14. Wow think you hit a nerve here. A good friend was a manager at Home Depot. At the store he worked at you were not allowed to smoke on the property at all. For companies that have the public visit that seems to be the right call.

    What about the whole smoke break issue. I love the fact if you smoke you are some how “owed” 8 breaks a day (plus travel time to your buddies desk, then outside, then back again, don’t forget to hit the soda machine for a monster…). If we could cut out smoke breaks I am thinking a 10% productivity improvement.


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