Smoking on Madison Avenue

October 9, 2009

I am not old enough to have experienced the environment shown on Mad Men, but I worked on Madison Avenue in the 1970s and had quite a lot of interesting experiences.

The smoking and drinking on the TV show put me off, but they reminded me of one funny situation that I encountered while working in the headquarters of one of the largest advertising agencies in the world.

There was a particular area in the corner of one Creative floor, the eighth, where people would hang out and smoke.  Smoking was pretty universal.  Although I never smoked, my guess would be that more than half the people working in the agency business smoked.

But the smoking I am talking about here was not tobacco.  And this smoking was pretty broadly accepted in the industry too.  However, when the big bosses came down to the eighth floor the roaches were quickly tossed behind the radiators.  Time and time again.

Over the whole summer this would happen quite a few times, maybe once or twice a week.  But it never seemed to bother anyone, neither the smokers or the management who must have smelled it in the air.

The problem occurred the first cold day of the fall.  That was the day the radiators were turned on.  The result was a regional high.  No smoke, just a resinous haze coming from all those roaches.

Not sure much got accomplished that day.  But everyone felt good and was hungry for some snacks.

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