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Old 07-19-2014, 09:43 AM
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My Employee smells like skunk

I have an employee who regularly comes to work smelling like she's lost a fight with a skunk, Now, I'm pretty naive when it comes to these things, but isn't that a fairly strong indication of pot smoking? Not sure where I heard that, so this is a serious question.

Just to stop the madness before it begins: we are a Government contractor in an area where even medical marijuana is illegal, and yes, if this is the case then what she's doing on her own time is indeed my business, and it's my job to act on it. If you strongly wish this weren't the case, then please start your own thread to whinge about it.

If I'm right about the smell, then I need to put her on the testing schedule.

Am I right? Or do I just need to counsel her on a hygiene issue? Any medical issues I should know about which might result in this distinctive odor?

Thanks!
Old 07-19-2014, 09:51 AM
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You mean she smells like a skunk? I don't believe there is any connection between the smell of the animal and the smell of the strong weed. It's just a coincidence that they bear the same name.

If she smells like she's been in a fight with a skunk then she's probably been in a fight with a skunk
Old 07-19-2014, 09:53 AM
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Smoking pot is not going to make her smell skunky, it is the actual pot that smells like skunk. If she were carrying pot on her person in a loosely sealed container you might smell it that way.
Old 07-19-2014, 09:55 AM
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Yes I was just going to come back and say the same thing. You might smell it on her if she smoked it in the previous 5 or 10 minutes but not all day.

Last edited by scoots; 07-19-2014 at 09:56 AM.
Old 07-19-2014, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by scoots View Post
You mean she smells like a skunk? I don't believe there is any connection between the smell of the animal and the smell of the strong weed. It's just a coincidence that they bear the same name.

If she smells like she's been in a fight with a skunk then she's probably been in a fight with a skunk
Some strains of pot, particularly indica or indica blends do indeed smell quite skunky, even strongly skunky, and that is where the reference to skunk bud comes from.
Old 07-19-2014, 09:57 AM
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I've never smelled a skunk, but I very much doubt they smell anything like weed. I mean, skunks are supposed to smell bad, right?

The idea that a bad smell coming from someone is a "strong indication" of any kind of drug use is bizarre.
Old 07-19-2014, 09:57 AM
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Can we also get a cite for the claim that your job is to police your subordinates' time away from work and ferret out any possible criminal activity? Just saying "Government Contractor!" isn't exactly persuasive.
Old 07-19-2014, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Dallas Jones View Post
Some strains of pot, particularly indica or indica blends do indeed smell quite skunky, even strongly skunky, and that is where the reference to skunk bud comes from.
If you say so. I've never smelt a skunk but I thought they smelt bad. Skunk (the weed) is pungent but not massively unpleasant
Old 07-19-2014, 10:02 AM
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It could mean she's got really good weed in her purse or pocket.

@Bozuit, yes, 'good' weed and skunk do smell surprisingly similar. Personally, I don't mind the smell of skunk when it's off at a distance (as opposed to say running one over with my car). Skunk also tends to be very over powering, but there are times where it's hard to tell if you're smelling skunk or the person in the car in front of you is getting high.
Old 07-19-2014, 10:03 AM
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Yes some, but not all, marijuana has a smell very much like that of skunk. (My nose is my cite, but if you care to google it, it's well known.) The unburned pot smells more like skunk than the smoke that clings to clothes and hair. If she smells skunky and it's related to weed, she's probably got the weed on her, not in her.

Sulfur based medications (including some antibiotics) and/or a diet high in onions and garlic can cause a decidedly skunky body odor. Many antidepressants can cause increased sweating, which will often indirectly worsen and/or alter body odor.

There's a rare condition called trimethylaminuria that causes really foul body odor when people with it eat foods with choline. That odor is usually described as "fishy" rather than skunky, but it can vary.

Skunks also smell skunky, and if one lives under your porch, even if it's not spraying, the odor can permeate your house and belongings.

So I'd say that if her work and behavior is adequate and safe, you don't have enough information to act. Could it be weed? Yes. But it could be several other things as well.

Last edited by WhyNot; 07-19-2014 at 10:04 AM.
Old 07-19-2014, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Erdosain View Post
Can we also get a cite for the claim that your job is to police your subordinates' time away from work and ferret out any possible criminal activity? Just saying "Government Contractor!" isn't exactly persuasive.
Just Say NO! to derailing the thread, the OP even asked you to start your own thread if you had an issue with it.
Old 07-19-2014, 10:05 AM
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Could it be weed? Yes. But it could be several other things as well.
It could also be a case of her smelling bad because she doesn't shower (or has a medical condition) but she also smokes weed.
Old 07-19-2014, 10:08 AM
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Just Say NO! to derailing the thread, the OP even asked you to start your own thread if you had an issue with it.
I guess. I don't really think it's fair to preemptively say, "I'm going to ask advice about an ethically gray action and YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO QUESTION ME!" I don't really care enough to start a new thread. The OP is allowed to ignore me.

This is a discussion board, not an answering service.
Old 07-19-2014, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Erdosain View Post
I guess. I don't really think it's fair to preemptively say, "I'm going to ask advice about an ethically gray action and YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO QUESTION ME!" I don't really care enough to start a new thread. The OP is allowed to ignore me.

This is a discussion board, not an answering service.
Pretend like the question was "if someone smells like skunk does it mean they smoke pot?" and ignore the rest of it.

I don't think it's ethically gray at all. There's plenty of jobs where it's strictly prohibited for the people they hire to use illegal drugs of any sort, that seems to be the OP's case.

Pretend like next week a city bus crashed into a bus stop and you found out that one of the workers at the bus depot had mentioned that the driver 'smelled like skunk and they were debating whether or not to drug test them', is that ethically gray or would you still suggest that what that bus driver did at home is their business, even if they did come into work reeking of pot/skunk...and that's another thing, whatever this person is doing at home, they're bringing into work so it's plausible, if they are smoking pot, they're doing it on the way to work or on their break or in the bathroom. If you get high at home, you don't smell like weed all day. Just like someone that smokes a few cigarettes in the morning only smells for the first hour or two.

Anyways...
Old 07-19-2014, 10:27 AM
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If a skunk sprayed her car or house her clothes could be picking up the smell even weeks or months later. I've also noticed that sometimes male cat pee smells a bit skunky. And it, too, is a an odor that can linger for months and months. Skunk and cat pee smells can seem to go away and then resurface during humid or rainy weather.

Is there any correlation between what she's wearing and when she smells skunky? A jacket? A pair of shoes?
Old 07-19-2014, 10:29 AM
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Occasionally my dogs will get skunked in the morning. I bathe them (skunk-off shampoo) and I'll smell spunky for a day. If my employer accused me of anything illicit, I'd talk to an attorney.
Old 07-19-2014, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
Occasionally my dogs will get skunked in the morning. I bathe them (skunk-off shampoo) and I'll smell spunky for a day. If my employer accused me of anything illicit, I'd talk to an attorney.
But if your contract allowed for your employer to drug test you, they wouldn't have to accuse you, just tell you that you need to go to the testing facility on Tuesday morning before work for a random drug test.

If you're in an At Will state (like Wisconsin) you can be fired for smelling like weed, or skunk, or having a dog that smells like skunk, or having a dog or having a kayak or liking kayaks for that matter so getting a lawyer because your employer said "we think you're smokin' weed' is just going to be a waste of your money. If you're clean, piss in a cup and prove them wrong, if you're not, your probably better off walking away if smoking weed isn't allowed based on your contract with the company.
Old 07-19-2014, 10:48 AM
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Why not ask her if she hit a skunk with her car? If she says No,then go on with what you must do.. You might make sure her name comes up in the next "random test"
Old 07-19-2014, 10:59 AM
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Most importantly, if something was suspected at the customer site, all 156 of us could find ourselves out of work. The customer can't manage my employees, but they can decide that this is the year to re-compete the contract. (We're in the first of five Option Years.)

Erdosain, I'm sorry, but that's as much explanation as you're going to get on this one.

OK, so it sounds like there is a reasonable suspicion or concern, which is the standard I have to follow.

Thanks all.


Crap.



ETA: Joey P. Thanks for trying!

Last edited by TruCelt; 07-19-2014 at 11:00 AM.
Old 07-19-2014, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Bozuit View Post
I've never smelled a skunk...
I read that and, because skunks are so universally distributed over here, I wondered, "Wow, what color is the sky on your world..." and then I noticed your location and got my answer: "Cloudy."

A fresh skunk shot smells like burning rubber plus roofing tar plus rotting fruit - strong rotting fruit, like a bucket of old plums. When not fresh, it's heavy on the burning rubber smell. We used to live in a place with a fairly large skunk population, including one little SOB who would come up under our porch and fire off a good shot for no identifiable reason. We'd scramble like a fire drill to close all the doors and windows.

Only occasionally get a whiff up here in the northeast, but there was a good road-splatter one a few days ago that made everyone remember our porch friend.
Old 07-19-2014, 11:14 AM
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and ferret out any possible criminal activity?
In other words, stop badgering her.

Last edited by jtur88; 07-19-2014 at 11:16 AM.
Old 07-19-2014, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
and I'll smell spunky for a day.
That's a totally different smell, one which I detect now and then at work and which sometimes- depending on the closeness of the relationship with the coworker- results in a knowing look and/or a high-five.
Old 07-19-2014, 05:21 PM
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Is the employee in question good at his or her job?

Shows up on time, gets his work done in a timely manner, gets along with co-workers, etc?

In other words, stop being a tool.
Old 07-19-2014, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Stringbean View Post
Is the employee in question good at his or her job?

Shows up on time, gets his work done in a timely manner, gets along with co-workers, etc?

In other words, stop being a tool.
I'm sorry to say there's more to it than that. And I'm not being a tool. If she's smoking pot, she's a complete idiot to be doing it in this job, and knows perfectly well that she could be putting all of our jobs at risk.

That's a lovely little world you live in dear, but it's not the same one I inhabit.
Old 07-19-2014, 05:46 PM
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My first thought was maybe she dabs some kind of essential oil on her or wears a diffuser with oil. Patchouli oil smells bad to me, not like skunk, but more like smelly feet. Valerian oil stinks too.
Old 07-19-2014, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by TruCelt View Post
I'm sorry to say there's more to it than that. And I'm not being a tool. If she's smoking pot, she's a complete idiot to be doing it in this job, and knows perfectly well that she could be putting all of our jobs at risk.

That's a lovely little world you live in dear, but it's not the same one I inhabit.
You don't know anything about cannabis to the extent that you're on an internet forum asking if a faint smell of skunk, outside of any other indications in their behavior, is proof that the person is high and needs to piss in a cup to satisfy your ignorance-based curiosity.

Maybe you need to grow up, honey.
Old 07-19-2014, 05:53 PM
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In other words, stop badgering her.
Yes, no need to ferret it out.
Old 07-19-2014, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Stringbean View Post
You don't know anything about cannabis to the extent that you're on an internet forum asking if a faint smell of skunk, outside of any other indications in their behavior, is proof that the person is high and needs to piss in a cup to satisfy your ignorance-based curiosity.

Maybe you need to grow up, honey.
LoL! Have a nice evening.
Old 07-19-2014, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by MissSwitac View Post
My first thought was maybe she dabs some kind of essential oil on her or wears a diffuser with oil. Patchouli oil smells bad to me, not like skunk, but more like smelly feet. Valerian oil stinks too.
I'll second the perfume idea - some perfumes react with some people's chemistry. Back in the day when I wore perfumes, I knew better than to use musk based perfumes - my Mom couldn't either - we both end up stinking of skunk so bad it was unbelievable! Maybe she's wearing a perfume that's reacting with her body chemistry and she isn't aware of it? She may only be aware of the perfume scent itself. Just a thought.
Old 07-19-2014, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Bozuit View Post
I've never smelled a skunk, but I very much doubt they smell anything like weed. I mean, skunks are supposed to smell bad, right?
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Originally Posted by scoots View Post
If you say so. I've never smelt a skunk but I thought they smelt bad. Skunk (the weed) is pungent but not massively unpleasant
If you've never smelled skunk consider yourself blessed. It is horrible. Can't wait for August, it always seems to be the slow and stupid skunk season around here and nothing is quite like road-kill skunk roasting on pavement under a hot August sun. Thank Og, because it's a crime even dead skunks smell like that.

Anyhow, saying pot smells "skunky" is like saying a perfume smells "musky". Yes there is a "note" of that stench, but it's not like pure skunk, the undiluted nightmare. You don't want to rub your face in pure 100% musk, either.

Back to the OP - since there is a clearly an odor it seems you're within reason to call her in for a talk. These sorts of things are always delicate, of course, but perhaps you can start off with "I don't mean to embarrass you, but it's been noticed that some days you have an odor about you... Sometimes people aren't aware of having such a problem and I'm sorry for having to bring this up..."

Or you can just test her for pot - you're allowed to do that for any reason or no reason at all, right?

It could be some dietary issue, some idiosyncratic reaction to a medication, there are some metabolic things that can cause bad body odor... or maybe she needs to leave her pot at home. In any case, if other people are talking then the odor is strong enough to be disruptive so you're within reason to address the issue regardless of origin.
Old 07-19-2014, 07:21 PM
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I'm all for the legalization of pot but if a coworker of mine was showing up at work reeking of the stuff I wouldn't appreciate it. If the coworker's smell could lead to my company losing the contract, and, by extension, cost me my job then I would have already said something to the coworker. If he or she showed up to work reeking of pot again I'd talk to our supervisor.
Old 07-19-2014, 10:58 PM
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It could be some dietary issue, some idiosyncratic reaction to a medication, there are some metabolic things that can cause bad body odor
Or make one's farts smell like dead skunk.
Old 07-20-2014, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by TruCelt View Post
LoL! Have a nice evening.

How hilarious that you can state in your OP, very explicitly, that you just need directions on this one thing and anything else others would like to discuss, they're more than happy to do it....... in their own thread. Yet, apparently reading comprehension, polite discourse and common courtesy can just go hang for some Dopers. Makes me laugh my ass off every time.
Old 07-20-2014, 12:54 PM
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If there's a suspicion, can it hurt to have them put on the drug test list? If you're wrong, then they have nothing to worry about. If you're right, you all have something to worry about. And if this person reports to you, your job is to protect the company.

My job does random drug tests, and tests if there are any accidents in the warehouse.

StG
Old 07-20-2014, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by StGermain View Post
If there's a suspicion, can it hurt to have them put on the drug test list? If you're wrong, then they have nothing to worry about. If you're right, you all have something to worry about. And if this person reports to you, your job is to protect the company.

My job does random drug tests, and tests if there are any accidents in the warehouse.

StG
Mostly correct. Placing her on the list just makes it look like her name came up next on the random. It is completely transparent for everyone except myself and the personnel/security staff I discuss it with. There is a chance though that her clearance comes under review, and the fact that her boss had requested a check would be shared, along with the clear or unclear results. It would be nice to believe that a clear result would then end the matter; I'm not sure I do believe that.

This is, of course, an "if" piled on the "if" stack on top of a "whether or not." But I try to take into account the visible universe of possible unintended consequences before I act. I dearly hope that she has been doing the same.

Old 07-20-2014, 03:17 PM
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How hilarious that you can state in your OP, very explicitly, that you just need directions on this one thing and anything else others would like to discuss, they're more than happy to do it....... in their own thread. Yet, apparently reading comprehension, polite discourse and common courtesy can just go hang for some Dopers. Makes me laugh my ass off every time.
Aww, she couldn't handle the big-girl forum 'cause I questioned her ignorance. Bear in mind she has the power to ruin this employee's professional career and is basing her suspicions on said ignorance.

But let's all play nice in the sandbox and use quietly belittling insults, like adults.
Old 07-20-2014, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Stringbean View Post
Aww, she couldn't handle the big-girl forum 'cause I questioned her ignorance. Bear in mind she has the power to ruin this employee's professional career and is basing her suspicions on said ignorance.

But let's all play nice in the sandbox and use quietly belittling insults, like adults.
No, only the employee has the power to ruin her career. Unless you think everybody in prison is only there because of those meddling cops.

And I'm not sure what you mean by "couldn't handle the big-girl forum", but I promise, you do not have the power to affect my self-esteem or upset me at all. My integrity is intact regardless of your opinion.

Last edited by TruCelt; 07-20-2014 at 03:25 PM.
Old 07-20-2014, 03:48 PM
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Skunk smell is not that bad unless it gets directly on you; I've noticed some beers that come in green bottles have a skunk smell to them. I kind of like those types of beers too.

As far as the employee smelling like an actual skunk? Don't know how to handle that one in an official capacity, but I think I would start asking other people if they smell a skunk odor.

Just pretend you don't know where the odor is coming from:

Do you guys smell that? It smells like a skunk, doesn't it? Someone go check outside! Where is that skunk smell coming from? Hey! It's stronger over here! What is that? Can you smell it? You smell, right?

Is someone smoking pot outside? What is that smell?!?!


Just flip out like that every time she is around, but never let on that you suspect it is her.

It will probably freak her out, and she will get rid of the weed.

Last edited by Absinthe Anecdote; 07-20-2014 at 03:53 PM.
Old 07-20-2014, 04:20 PM
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Someone mentioned "what they do on their own time" – problem is, while 7am may technically be "their own time", if they are using that time to get wasted before showing up at work at 8am, it kind of becomes not their own time. If they drink a quart bottle of wormwood with dinner, trip out, and wake the next morning. refreshed and invigorated, ready for work, no one should care. But that few hours before work is kind of another matter. If a job cannot tolerate stoned or drunk workers, the hours before you come in are not entirely your own.
Old 07-20-2014, 04:33 PM
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Someone mentioned "what they do on their own time" problem is, while 7am may technically be "their own time", if they are using that time to get wasted before showing up at work at 8am, it kind of becomes not their own time. If they drink a quart bottle of wormwood with dinner, trip out, and wake the next morning. refreshed and invigorated, ready for work, no one should care. But that few hours before work is kind of another matter. If a job cannot tolerate stoned or drunk workers, the hours before you come in are not entirely your own.
That makes a lot of sense for the pilot that is about to fly the plane that I'm getting on, and the surgeon who is about to take my tonsils out, and the cop who responds to my house to chase away the bad guys. Yep, that makes perfect sense.

However, I'd really like to hang on to the liberal notion of, "it's their time, they can spend it the way they want to."

So let's not point out obvious things like that, okay?

It's a lot better for my free-wheeling hippie doctrine, if we just sweep pesky realism under the rug.
Old 07-20-2014, 05:05 PM
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That makes a lot of sense for the pilot that is about to fly the plane that I'm getting on, and the surgeon who is about to take my tonsils out, and the cop who responds to my house to chase away the bad guys. Yep, that makes perfect sense.

However, I'd really like to hang on to the liberal notion of, "it's their time, they can spend it the way they want to."

So let's not point out obvious things like that, okay?

It's a lot better for my free-wheeling hippie doctrine, if we just sweep pesky realism under the rug.
Thing is, apart from the places that drop random UAs for the sake of being officious, almost no one gets fired for being stoned or drunk: they get fired for the effect it has on their work. First time I got stoned, I was at work, and the effect it had was that I got everything done in about a third the usual time. So, if I want efficient workers who can concentrate on the job, telling them they cannot ever smoke weed seems a little like the opposite of what I should do maybe I should have the weed at work and tell them they are not to get wasted at home.
Old 07-20-2014, 05:58 PM
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I'm not quite getting the outrage at the OP's concern here. Regardless of how wonderfully skunk girl might perform at her job being THC free is apparently a non-negotiable part of her employment, and if she disregards this requirement it potentially puts the entire contract and the entire work crew in danger of being terminated.

She might be a pot smoker or have a medical issue. Assuming she has reasonable hygiene given the prevalence of very rare medical conditions that would cause this vs recreational pot smoking it's more likely to be weed use than most other explanations.

The OP absolutely needs to nip this in the bud with a private conversation with her, if he doesn't a lot of bad stuff could happen to a lot of people.
Old 07-20-2014, 07:46 PM
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Maybe she raises Ferrets??
Old 07-20-2014, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
That makes a lot of sense for the pilot that is about to fly the plane that I'm getting on, and the surgeon who is about to take my tonsils out, and the cop who responds to my house to chase away the bad guys. Yep, that makes perfect sense.

However, I'd really like to hang on to the liberal notion of, "it's their time, they can spend it the way they want to."

So let's not point out obvious things like that, okay?

It's a lot better for my free-wheeling hippie doctrine, if we just sweep pesky realism under the rug.
By all means, please start yourself a thread to discuss it!
Old 07-20-2014, 07:52 PM
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Thing is, apart from the places that drop random UAs for the sake of being officious, almost no one gets fired for being stoned or drunk: they get fired for the effect it has on their work. First time I got stoned, I was at work, and the effect it had was that I got everything done in about a third the usual time. So, if I want efficient workers who can concentrate on the job, telling them they cannot ever smoke weed seems a little like the opposite of what I should do maybe I should have the weed at work and tell them they are not to get wasted at home.
Again, please, start a thread to talk this through to your heart's content!!!
Old 07-20-2014, 09:12 PM
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The thread police wouldn't give me no peace
They claimed I was a nasty person
Old 07-20-2014, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Stringbean View Post
Aww, she couldn't handle the big-girl forum 'cause I questioned her ignorance. Bear in mind she has the power to ruin this employee's professional career and is basing her suspicions on said ignorance.

But let's all play nice in the sandbox and use quietly belittling insults, like adults.
Take it to the Pit, but don't post in this thread again if you're just going to post pot shots.
Old 07-20-2014, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by eschereal View Post
Thing is, apart from the places that drop random UAs for the sake of being officious, almost no one gets fired for being stoned or drunk: they get fired for the effect it has on their work. First time I got stoned, I was at work, and the effect it had was that I got everything done in about a third the usual time. So, if I want efficient workers who can concentrate on the job, telling them they cannot ever smoke weed seems a little like the opposite of what I should do maybe I should have the weed at work and tell them they are not to get wasted at home.
Put up or shut up. I've been an employer for 30 years. I live in Colorado and there is a dispensary in the same building as my business. Please tell me what magical strain this was so I can buy some a give it to my employees to increase their productivity and my profit.
Old 07-20-2014, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idle Thoughts View Post
Take it to the Pit, but don't post in this thread again if you're just going to post pot shots.
I see what you did there. Don't try to weasel out of it.
Old 07-21-2014, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by TruCelt View Post
Again, please, start a thread to talk this through to your heart's content!!!
Sorry. Your issue is pretty straightforward. You will see that this person gets tested and deal with the outcome as it happens. She will probably be clean, because, IME, skunk-whiff is usually a hygiene issue or you might not find out she is a dealer with poorly packaged product (the best dealers are not users, meaning she would have a clean UA).

Quote:
Originally Posted by chacoguy View Post
Put up or shut up. I've been an employer for 30 years. I live in Colorado and there is a dispensary in the same building as my business. Please tell me what magical strain this was so I can buy some a give it to my employees to increase their productivity and my profit.
Plain old Acapulco Gold, you will find nothing like it these days, the stuff they sell now is five or ten times as strong.
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