As the founder of Drug-Safe Workplaces I have a few unusual stories to tell. Some I will never be able to divulge. But this is one of the strangest, and I can talk about it.
Early in the development of the alcohol and other drugs industry good work was hard to come by. So I would accept any opportunity to develop my skills and knowledge. Particularly when I was able to charge for my services.
Then one day I got this call…
In those days I attended every business event and networking meeting I could find. Looking back I have presented my Drug-Safe vision to groups of 1 person to over 500. Each time, no matter what the circumstances I delivered the best presentation I possibly could. Any questions that came up I answered as honestly and straightforward as possible.
An Interesting Invitation
One day a gentleman rang me after seeing me present as part of the CEO Institute (Blacktown Syndicate). He wanted me to present a Drug Awareness workshop to one of his teams. I asked him why would he want me to present to just the one team. He replied he had some concern that they didn’t understand the risks associated with their job. In fact someone had seen them smoking marijuana after work.
“What’s their job then?” I replied.
“They’re a building demolition team and they work with heavy equipment and the potential of disaster every day. So they need to be on their toes but to their credit they do have a very good supervisor. He’s a KIWI”.
We set a date and a time that would be after the crew returned to the depot, where the drug awareness presentation was planned to occur.
“What do you need?” he asked.
“I’ll bring my data projector and presentation plus some pamphlets they may find interesting” I responded. “Could you please ensure we have a presentation room set up with enough seats.”
“No worries” he replied.
“Plus I’ll need a screen to project the presentation onto……” I started.
“Yep can do!”
“And I’ll need a white board to explain the finer points of drug effects upon the brain and how …”
“Yeah mate no problem I’ll get it sorted. See you at the depot half an hour before they get back.”
Drug Awareness Training Day
So the day arrived and I prepared as planned to give my best presentation to an industry group I was more and more eager to get to know.
Where Is This Place?
I had more difficulty than I imagined finding the depot. Eventually I identified it by a handwritten company name written on a three ply board in TEXTA. It was more of an abandoned fuel bunker than work site. But I found it suited their purpose pretty well. Rescued items of any value could be stored in relative security until a scrap materials buyer could make an offer and clear the lot out.
My contact found me looking around, welcomed me and looked excited to see my presentation.
I asked where the presentation room was so that I could set up.
Where’s the Training Room?
“Right there” pointing to what appeared to be a bomb sight with a cleared section in the middle for two rows of theatre seats with plush red velvet seating.
There were two rows of 15 seats which was a lot more than I’d need.
“Got that lot from when we knocked down the Lyceum. Good enough?”
“Pretty impressive actually”, I replied with a smile.
“But what about the screen to show…?”
“No worries we have a piece of the wall from the old community hall that’s white and the boys are bringing it over now. See the forklift coming this way? Watch yourself.”
“… and my white board?”
“Well we had trouble with that and had to settle for a black-board. But we have some chalk! Raylene is bringing it over from the back shed.”
Raylene arrived with a black board which she placed near my packing crate lectern. It was about 1 metre high by 800 mil wide. Up the left side and flowing artistically across the top was a painted ivy under which were the words “Today’s specials”.
“Yeah we got that from the canteen when we knocked down the works depot.”
The chalk she handed me was contained in a small plastic box and consisted of all the end bits of every colour imaginable. Some were not actually identifiable as they had spent too much time rubbing up against their tiny cell mates.
“Excellent. Ready to go” I said once I had plugged in the projector and focused the first image. “Where’s the crew?”
“Relax, give them a few minutes… traffic probably”.
So I sat in the plush Lyceum seat with the least number of stains and went over my presentation, waiting for the audience.
Drug Training Delivery
Three crew-cab trucks bumped into the yard and stopped in allotted parking areas. Out poured a huge lava-flow of Polynesian humanity that moved across to totally fill the theatre seating that creaked under the strain. Some of them removed their Hi Viz jackets to give a little more room.
However, within a few minutes they were all settled and looking at me expectantly.
I started my best presentation with jokes thrown in and great drawings, arrows, underlines everywhere and carefully spelled names of drugs and their effects.
I was doing well in spite of the chalk in the fingernails and key-stoning effect on the swaying wall. No questions apart from the supervisor and I thought this was excellent and being absorbed by my audience.
It was then I realised that the quiet attention I mistook for enrapture at my presentation skills was the result of a reefer being passed from one team member to the other. As it passed along there was a pfft! Cans of beer were opened and consumed while waiting for the next reefer to come along.
Thanks for the talk, Bro!
I stopped and asked them if anything I had said had sunken in?
The supervisor responded on behalf of the team.
“Oh, no worries mate they liked it! Show us some of them drug photos again.”
“Why” I said.
“Well, they think they can recognise some and as they can’t speak English or understand you it gives them something to remember. They’re Samoan…. And thanks for the talk Bro. I enjoyed it.”
End of Story
Hopefully you don’t recognise too much of your own company in this story. Drug and alcohol can have serious, life-altering consequences. For your company, your employees and the general public. In fact, 80% of all injuries in drug-related incidents are suffered by bystanders who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The risks associated with company image and legal liability are immense. Not to mention we are dealing with people’s lives. Therefore, do yourself, your employees and their families a favour. Invest in a drug and alcohol safety program that is tailored to your companies’ needs and language.
I promise we’ll still deliver the best drug awareness training we possibly can. We will happily use chalk to draw on blackboards and have our projector screen sway in the wind. But we want your people and company safe. Hopefully without beer and drugs being consumed in the meantime.