Sorry, no sale it's smoko time

What's the difference between going to do a proper job at work and mucking around at home?

It's smoko, morning tea, coffee break - whatever you call it.

On the home front morning tea is a highly moveable feast, possibly starting before breakfast, frequently going on past lunch time, sometimes merging into afternoon coffee.

It may be a one, two or three cup break and it may go for one, two or three hours, alone or in the company of others however few or many.

But at work there's a sacred structure about tea breaks which are enshrined in law, surrounded by customs.

They may be as important a part of the day for information exchange, gossip, ideas and tips as any of the hours inbetween.

People are having morning tea, at afternoon tea, on a smoko break and telephone callers are told just that.

Those you phone, even if returning a call, have become as inaccessible as stars.

That's fair enough for the hassled worker needs a break. But it is mighty strange when the top brass, perhaps even the owner, is unavailable at 10 or 3.

This week I set out to spend a fair sum - $315 had been quoted - in one of several stores stocking what I wanted. But I did need to speak to someone in charge about the purchase. So at the first stop, probably mid-morning, I asked if I might have a quick word with the manager? Sorry no: he is at morning tea. Could I come back?

Maybe I thought, wandering on to the second stockist, but the boss there was "tied up with a sales rep and could I wait say 10 or 15 minutes?"

Think not, quietly back car out of park and head home, slowing down outside a garage sale sign.

You can guess the rest - found what I wanted. I would have spent more and bought new had anyone been keen to make a sale.

Workers hang out for that coffee break. I know, been there.

But surely those running the place can drink tea before or after 10am or 3pm.

It must matter more to secure a sale than swig a coffee if you are the boss of the business, and in these straitened times?


The Southland Times