Thursday, February 21, 2002

I'm up late because I spent the evening at a bingo hall. Not playing bingo, but working at the hall. Part of the funding for our community centre comes from sending volunteers (like myself) to work at various scheduled bingos throughout the year. The money goes towards paying staff at the community centre, subsidizing registration fees, buying sports equipment, upkeep of the hall and all the other little things that are part of the community centre and association.

The working conditions for my seven-and-a-half hour shift at the Golden Wings weren't too bad except for one thing - the smoke. The company and places that I frequent are for the most part smoke-free. This is definitely NOT the case at the bingo halls. I watched two women go through two whole packs of cigarettes in less than three hours. Multiply that by the 350 to 400 people in the hall, and then take out any hope of fresh air - they recirculate the air through six woefully inadequate ceiling-mounted filters. I emerged from my shift with irritated eyes, a terrible taste in my mouth, a bad headache and (I'm guessing) clothes, hair and skin that stunk.

I have good memories of bingo games. My great-grandmother used to be a five-day-a-week player. As a youth, I would accompany her once every two or three months to her afternoon game. I remember people smoking, but I don't remember it being as terrible as it was tonight. Is the severity of my reaction a result of non-exposure to smoke? As a child, my father was a pack-a-day smoker.

Calgary is becoming more and more smoke-free. I was musing with a coworker tonight that perhaps they do a poor job of filtering/circulating the air on purpose. Maybe the atmosphere (literally) is a draw for smokers that want to be:
- in a social setting that doesn't frown on their habit
- in a place that is convienient to smoke (ashtrays, consession selling smokes, sitting still doing a mind-numbing task)
- also in an enriched second-hand smoke environment

As much as I think bingo is a good social event (much like playing cards or scrabble or any other in-a-group, take-a-turn game), and a group gaming atmosphere that promotes community cohesion in a simple task-oriented event, I don't think I could enjoy sitting and visiting in such conditions.


No comments: