Perhaps I've mentioned before that we have a fun break group at work. There are about ten of us when all assembled; all cheerful, healthy and intelligent, with bright eyes and nice glossy coats. Twice a day we congregate at one of the outdoor break areas, a covered pavilion with two picnic tables, nestled in a shady spot in an outside corner of the building. It's the furthest break area from any of the entrances, so it's not frequented much by echt state employees - some of whom routinely get in their cars and drive to the convenience store at the other end of our parking lot, or to the building across our campus where the cafeteria is - either one a distance of well under an eighth of a mile.
There have been one or two times we weren't able to take our break in our usual spot because there's a smoker or group of smokers sitting there. All of the outdoor break areas are designated smoking areas. This wouldn't be entirely unreasonable, except that if there are smokers using all the outdoor break areas, there's no place for the non-smokers to go. Well, we could sit indoors, in the cafeteria or the breakroom, under fluorescent lights in the air conditioning. Or we could go outside and take our chances with the fire ants under a tree across the parking lot. Or we could join the smokers at the table, as other smokers do. The only thing we can't do is sit outside at a table in the shade without cigarette smoke.
It hasn't been that much of an issue, since as I said, only a couple of times has there been a conflict. The only serious inconvenience is the stench from the two ash receptacles: narrow, elongated pyramids, about waist-high with a hole in the top, placed next to the picnic tables. They reek. And if (as happens not infrequently) someone has tossed in a cigarette without extinguishing it, all the butts inside smolder, and the ash receptacles actually blow smoke. So we pick them up (gingerly - they're kind of grody) and move them away from the tables, into the corner next to the wall. When smokers use the area, they move the receptacles back next to the tables.
So far, so good, right? It would be nice if the things had wheels and handles so we didn't have to touch them. It kind of sucks sitting through a whole 45-min^H^H^H^H^H 15-minute break with dirty hands. Plus the receptacles are weighted at the bottom to prevent tipping over, so they're somewhat cumbersome to move.
This morning I arrived at the break area and grabbed the nearest ash receptacle to move it - and my hand slipped off. Eeeewww! There was something slimy on the outside! A closer examination revealed that the entire thing had been sprayed with something greasy, the whole length of it, on all four sides, and the nasty yellowish substance had pooled in the groove around the base. We looked at the second receptacle and sure enough, it had been treated the same way. Apparently someone was tired of us moving their ashtrays.
We damn well moved them anyway, rather slowly, scooting them along the ground with our feet, though we had to touch them to keep them from falling over when we pushed them off the slab the picnic tables sit on. One of my co-breakers sniffed his fingers and tentatively identified the substance as non-stick cooking spray.
I'm really bothered that whoever tries to move them back will discover their condition the same way I did, and will probably think the non-smokers did this to dick over the smokers. Of course, the cleaning staff who empty the damn things will have the worst of it.
Maybe we'll try putting up some "No Smoking" signs.