27.04.2006 21:07 - Drug Tourism
I used to work at an ISP where my fellow colleagues attitudes to certain substances were, shall we say, lax.
On one occasion one of the younger employees, in full view of everyone else, sparked up what can only be described, by the smell coming from it, as the old Jazz tobacco, just as the boss entered the room. Far from the disciplinary action that would have inevitably followed at some employers (no names, no pack drill), the boss asked to have a drag.
Now, I don't particularly like pot, but as long as it wasn't disturbing me, I wasn't bothered. There were occasions where the fug would get a bit strong, but that was alleviated when the smokers decided that it would be best to confine consumption to the kitchen, so that awkward questions would not be asked by any potential clients.
The problem came when we all decided to go on holiday together.
This was to be a team-bonding experience. We were going to learn to sail a Dutch twin-hulled barge. I personally wasn't that keen on bonding with anyone, save possibly the attractive Sicilian secretary, but I had little choice. The place would be shut anyway, because everyone else would be on holiday, so I went.
We arrived in the Netherlands just in time for me to develop an evil cold. The Italian secretary wasn't much better off, either, although she had excelled herself in cooking us all an italian dish which consisted of cheese, with soft cheese, hard chees, more cheese, and different cheese mixed in, and parmesan sprinkled on the top. I think it was called "Troppo Formaggio". In fact, thinking about it, that's probably how I caught the cold.
This cold was not helped by the fact that everyone, apart from me and the Italian Secretary, were taking advantage of Holland's lax laws upon the obtaining and smoking of alternatives to tobacco. My eyes were already red and watering from the cold, but after two evenings of sitting watching my colleagues play doppelkopf (a rather confusing card-game which requires you remove some cards from a standard pack, meaning that the pack can't be used to play anything else) and smoking themselves comatose, my eyes were even more red and sore, as was my throat. My nose was alternating between so bunged up I woke up at night unable to breathe, and feeling like someone had used it as a hash pipe.
But there was worse to come.
Have you ever been on a Dutch sailbarge on the inland sea when a gail whips up?
Now normally, I have a formidable pair of sea-legs, having been through a force ten gale on the SS Uganda in the Med. Whilst all my schoolfriends were saying "Blargh!" into paper bags I was on deck, seeing how high I could jump if I timed it correctly to the uppermost point of the parabolic motion of the ship's roll. (which was really quite spectacular. In retrospect, I was bloody lucky not to miss the ship on the way down and end up abandoned in the middle of the Med).
Unfortunately, I was now on a flat-bottomed boat, with a minimal keel, a horrible cold, a killer headache and the after-effects of two nights of passive pot-smoking. I didn't hurl, but we all wrapped up and sat on the deck looking out to sea, as that minimised the confusion of the senses caused by sitting below-decks whilst the room underwent unusual sideways accelerations. This latter effect was enough to get even the most hardened sailor queasy. The eyes said no, but the stomach said otherwise.
About the only thing I can say for the holiday was that I got a load of Grolsch cap washers to use on my guitar straps.
Even now, the smell of pot-smoke is enough to bring back a horrible queasy feeling.