Should i quit my apprenticeship?
August 17, 2009 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Should i quit my apprenticeship?

Ok i just started an apprenticeship at a glass shop here in town and i love it, even though my skills aren't up to par yet. Here is the problem:

I'm was a straight edge for a large chunk of my youth and at 27 have just barely started drinking casually (and alcohol still does little for me). The shop master and the second in command apprentice smoke pot for the majority of our work day. They noticed that i don't smoke with them this saturday and started questioning me about it. I just said it wasn't my thing. They decided that they wouldn't let me make a piece of glass until i smoked with them. They didn't hold me to this this weekend, but i am a little apprehensive that it's going to come up again.

So at this point you are probably thinking "what's this guy's problem with pot?"

well i don't neccesarily have one, but having been a straight edge and never partaken and having had an ex-girlfriend who i dated for a long time who thought i looked down on her for having been a habitual pot smoker before we got together, it feels like it would be more than a little hypocritical to try it now. I don't imagine it would do anything for me either. Their thing is their thing and as long as i don't get hurt they can smoke all they want, that said i don't want to be peer pressured into this. It's like a bad after school special and we are all adults (i'm 27, the 2nd in command is 28 and i don't know his age but the master of the shop has been doing this for 20 years, so is probably in his mid 40's).

So should i stick with it? They are the only glass shop in town, and other than that situation i have a lot of fun being there and I am learning a lot.
posted by djduckie to Grab Bag (29 answers total)
Their attitude strikes me as pushy and disrespectful. I'd stay firm--as a smoker, I don't think your first time smoking should be a situation where you're forced into it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:20 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

A quick, honest question: you're aware that a good deal of the financial opportunities for glassblowers come from the weed market, right? If you're so committed to avoiding marijuana that you're uncomfortable making bongs and bowls, maybe this isn't the right profession for you.

In terms of saying no: most people who smoke pot are aware that there are a lot of reasons not to. Say that it makes you too paranoid or something. Just remember that:
1) Weed makes a lot of people feel really happy and warm and good, and they honestly think they're helping you out by asking you to smoke.
2) Weed sometimes makes you forget things, so you'll probably have to repeat your chosen reason for not smoking quite a few times.

Honestly, it's your business whether you smoke or not, but there's nothing hypocritical about becoming more open-minded as you get older. You've already done this with alcohol. Just saying.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:20 AM on August 17, 2009

Note to self: use "honestly" less often. Honestly.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:22 AM on August 17, 2009

Yes stick with it and continue to say "No" until you WANT to try it, not when they want you to try it. Maybe that comes soon or never. Not trying it because it is hypocritical seems like the wrong reason not to try it. You don't need a reason, but that seems odd to me. Also, seems like those guys like you and are trying to include you, not force you to smoke against your will.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:22 AM on August 17, 2009

Response by poster: oh odd additional information:

since apprentices work for free and it's not exactly easy there is high turnover. I have been struggling my last couple of visits in and i was under the impression the master didn't like me that much, but we were talking on saturday about other people that had left and he said "well don't get weeded out like the rest of these guys". A non-pun intented statement of encouragement, which was weird. (but also oddly pun-y)
posted by djduckie at 8:27 AM on August 17, 2009

Response by poster: Most glass pipe work is done in india. The master of my shop doesn't make pipes and/or bongs and said he doesn't know how to.
posted by djduckie at 8:30 AM on August 17, 2009

Just be a grown-up about it.

"Look, I'm committed to this apprenticeship and I want to do well here and learn from you guys. I don't care if you smoke but I'm not going to. If that's seriously going to be a problem for you guys, tell me now. Otherwise, someone teach me how to make a bong. OK?"
posted by DarlingBri at 8:32 AM on August 17, 2009 [6 favorites]

Your question seems to assume there are two options:
1) Smoke pot with them
2) Quit the job.

There may be a third option, which is to explain to them, in the friendliest way possible, that you've never smoked pot, and would rather not start now (and that it's totally cool with you if they do, and that you really love working there, etc, etc). It might be that their insistence that you need to smoke with them if you want to work there proves to be more flexible than it seems to you right now...
posted by ManInSuit at 8:32 AM on August 17, 2009

(oh.. pretty much what DarlingBri said...)
posted by ManInSuit at 8:33 AM on August 17, 2009

you don't have to smoke if you don't want to. they're probably pressuring you because when you do, you'll be in on the "secret" and more likely to keep your mouth shut. they may just be paranoid because you know what they do and they don't know whether you're prone to running your mouth or not. i mean, you have posted this with enough information to kinda pinpoint them, haven't you?
posted by elle.jeezy at 8:36 AM on August 17, 2009

Even as an unpaid apprentice you have rights. I would seriously consider getting the law involved if you do quit, because they are essentially forcing you out of a job/opportunity because you are refusing to take an illegal drug with them. Imagine if corporate America started forcing people to do meth so they can work 16 hour days. I dont see how this is any different. This is the kind of shit people deserve to lose their businesses over.

Lastly, even the dumbest most ignorant stoners (which these people sound like they are) know that people who self-identify as straight-edge are that way because of addiction issues or other issues. Taunting them is a dick move.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:41 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wouldn't there be some safety concerns that you can bring up? I don't think that your first time smoking pot should be around extremely high temperatures and glass. I'm just generally paranoid though. You don't know how your body will react to it. Most pot smokers think that other people need to smoke so that they can chill the fuck out. You can just say "Do you. I'm good".
posted by mokeydraws at 8:45 AM on August 17, 2009

Worrying whether it would be "hypocritical" to try it now sounds like an excuse. If you want to try it, try it. I used to rail against alcohol in all forms back in my know-it-all days. Now I love beer.

Point being, doesn't matter what you are or were, if you want to try it, try it, with a clear mind and conscience. If you don't, don't. I will say that trying pot the first time with pushy people, rather than friends, sounds like a recipe for disaster.
posted by notsnot at 8:45 AM on August 17, 2009

While I agree with the others that you should keep at it (because it sounds like you really enjoy it) and just firmly say no if you don't want to smoke,

having had an ex-girlfriend who i dated for a long time who thought i looked down on her for having been a habitual pot smoker before we got together, it feels like it would be more than a little hypocritical to try it now.

It wouldn't be hypocritical and you don't owe anything to an ex in this respect. People change, and unless you currently disapprove of smoking weed, there is no need to hold your current actions hostage to your past beliefs (or to your ex-girlfriend's hypothetical opinion of you).
posted by advil at 8:50 AM on August 17, 2009

If you allow them to control the narrative on your whole situation, then you might easily come off as "the square" or whatever in their minds. Just leaving it at "No thanks" means they can project any reasoning they want onto you. Get in front of the issue by explaining your reasons for being straight edge. Tell them in some heartfelt, detailed, and honest way exactly why you chose not to use any substances. I'm sure your reasoning for it is a little more detailed than just "Don't feel like it." The desire to train your body to run on just what it naturally produces, wanting to keep a clear and focused mind, not wanting to come to rely on anything to alter your perception of the world, etc.

While they may not agree with your reasons, they should (hopefully) at least respect that you have some. And once you've laid them out, it makes it harder for them to mentally put words into your mouth about it.
posted by reticulatedspline at 8:56 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I find the concept of you having to smoke marijuana before they will teach you absolutely appalling. That's irrespective of whether you enjoy it yourself or not.

Be honest with them. Tell them that you don't want to smoke pot, and that if that is going to affect your apprenticeship, then you'd rather know now than later. Worst case, it is going to be a problem, at which point look for something else to do. If they're going to teach you even if you don't smoke, then there's not a problem.

That said, you work with glass all day. Do you really want the people who are going to have to call the ambulance for you, should there be an accident, to be stoned?
posted by Solomon at 8:57 AM on August 17, 2009

I'm leaning towards "quit," but need a little more info re: his tone:

is it kind of a jocular, "you can't blow glass til you hit the bong lol," or is he seriously predicating your employment on getting high with him?

If the former, that's still obnoxious, but you may just be able to laugh it off - "good one, boss!" - and get on with the job. (It sounds like you already sort of did this once.)

If it's the latter, that's really fucked up and I would quit. What I wouldn't do in either case is give them any kind of explanation as to why you don't want to get high. "No thanks" is reason enough to any sane person. And especially don't tell them you never tried it before. If they think they can make a new convert they will never ever ever stop bothering you.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:58 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

You can tell them "sorry I don't would interfere with my high from crack cocaine" and leave it at that.

Or you can lie and tell them you finally tried it over the weekend with your friend, and it just wasn't for you.

I empathize with you and I'm disturbed by the number of comments here saying, "have an open mind, just do it", etc. Why does the poster need to participate in their recreation for them to feel comfortable? This is lame and stupid. If it's all about this so-called openmindedness, the employer should realize that not everybody needs to get high to have a good time, fer chrissakes.
posted by thisperon at 9:06 AM on August 17, 2009

So at this point you are probably thinking "what's this guy's problem with pot?"

I am, but the "guy" in question is the master, not you. Next time they bring it up, be firm in your position, and clear that you're not interested in that being a condition of working there. If they don't immediately, and without question, relent, then walk.

That said, this:

having been a straight edge and never partaken and having had an ex-girlfriend who i dated for a long time who thought i looked down on her for having been a habitual pot smoker before we got together, it feels like it would be more than a little hypocritical to try it now.

is fairly hyperbolic reasoning. If you're curious about trying pot, try some. It won't turn you into a wastoid overnight. Lots of people do things in their adulthood that they looked down upon in their earlier years.
posted by mkultra at 9:14 AM on August 17, 2009

They noticed that i don't smoke with them this saturday and started questioning me about it. I just said it wasn't my thing. They decided that they wouldn't let me make a piece of glass until i smoked with them. They didn't hold me to this this weekend, but i am a little apprehensive that it's going to come up again.

You can either quit this job, or you can stand up to peer pressure. I vote for the latter. Probably with a "seriously, is this an afterschool special!?" reference.

You really don't owe them a lengthy explanation and justification, and in fact, giving them a big long story just gives them details with which to quibble. You know very well that it's patently ridiculous for them to to try to bully/haze you into smoking pot before you're permitted to make a piece. You don't have to get all self-righteous, just be cool and stick to your guns. Were it me, I'd go all sarcastic and eye-rolling and making with the zingers, but that's my style.
posted by desuetude at 9:23 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Did you tell them that you are straight edge? That might help settle this, because most people (at least almost everybody else I know) know what straight edge is about. I agree, they shouldn't force you into smoking pot if you don't want to, that's not okay.

Oh, and about feeling hypocritical about trying pot now after looking down on an ex for being a pothead - we all grow older and do things now we'd never imagined doing while we were younger, that's just part of growing up, I guess. I looked down on beer drinkers for a long time and now I really really like beer. ;-)

I agree with notsnot, in other words.
posted by Bearded Dave at 9:45 AM on August 17, 2009

Yes, you should quit. Not only because these grown-assed men feel the need to pressure you into getting high with them when they know you're not into it, but also because you all are working around hazardous materials and eventually someone may get hurt. If you really want to learn the art of glassblowing, apprentice under someone who doesn't make putting your health and safety at risk as part of the job requirement. Even if that means moving to another city.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:42 AM on August 17, 2009

Response by poster: Maybe part of it for me is that my life is still full of people from my past that know and have certain expectations of who i was.

Really my life is entirely in shambles and the shop, my horrible job and school are pretty much all i have outside of my madcap personal life. anyone wants to here that story or thinks they can help any memail me.

But thanks for all the great advice. I'll keep at it.

Also, maybe it's just the city i live in, but even when i was younger i never found too much support of the straight edge movement. I've always thought of myself as a cool rebel, but i am kind of on the chubby side, not too handsome looking and wear glasses, which seems to trigger to everyone else that i am a nerd and i need to be broken of my nerdy tendencies.

I still really don't drink that much, but oddly enough one of my favorite hobbies is homebrewing. (i found out after i started that my grandfather, who also didn't drink, loved to homebrew (his wife (my grandmother) was an alcoholic, and one of the main reasons for my alcohol aversion).
posted by djduckie at 11:05 AM on August 17, 2009

it feels like it would be more than a little hypocritical to try it now

Does this sentiment sound like hypocrisy to you?

"When I was younger I looked down on vegetarians thinking that they were idiots, but today I am a vegetarian myself."

I am not a vegetarian, but I did look down on them when I was younger. Today I support their lifestyle even if it is not something I practice myself. This seems to parallel your opinion of smoking weed. I would hope that nobody would consider myself a hypocrite if I ever did become vegetarian.

I'm not saying you should necessarily cave in to their demand (which is pretty shitty behavior on their part). Just that changing your moral code as you get older and trying something you used to be against isn't, in my opinion, hypocrisy.

If the statement is "don't do something because you're being peer pressured into it" then the corollary is "don't avoid something just to prove you won't be peer pressured into it".
posted by Green With You at 3:40 PM on August 17, 2009

I totally missed the two people who already touched on the hypocrisy thing! I thought I read all of the responses, my mistake.
posted by Green With You at 3:42 PM on August 17, 2009

Pot-smoking glass blowers may consider their products as tools. 'Nail a board before crafting a hammer'. There's an art as well as a science to it.
That said, you can do very well without partaking if you are passionate about learning the subtleties.
I don't know your bosses, or how unpleasantly an ultimatum* was delivered (*did you say you made a piece this weekend?), but smoking/not smoking isn't a professional consideration, possibly excepting the reasoning I've described above. Casually, openly talk to them and clear where you all really stand in this situation. After that, at least you'll know if the question is whether you want to stay on with assholes.
posted by droomoord at 4:59 PM on August 17, 2009

When you start giving out your reasons, you are continuing a debate that doesn't need to happen. So, I wouldn't give any reasons -- the reasons don't matter, your answer is no. So, if it comes up again, I'd just say, "Nah, thanks though. More for you!"

If it continues to come up, and it seems that it's a serious ultimatum instead of an attempt to share, I'd walk away. It's not really an issue about the pot. It's an issue of someone demanding you do something non-work-related in return for being allowed to do the (non-paying, btw) job.

It's your life, and you are allowed to make your choices, especially when those choices hurt nobody. That's my reason for being pro-legalization of pot. That's also my reason for believing there's nothing wrong with not smoking pot.
posted by Houstonian at 7:14 AM on August 18, 2009

Response by poster: i'm not sure if anyone will see this again but the concern has continued. Lately I have actually been making stuff at a level a step back from where i was before. He's still mentioning he's perception of my need to smoke, but not as directly. when i ask for feedback on my work in helping him or my own pieces he implies that my next step is to "puff". It's subtle put still present.
posted by djduckie at 3:30 PM on September 16, 2009

It sounds like you are being "weeded out," as the master warned you. What did you decide to do? There may not be many apprenticeships, but there are several art glass places in Austin, and several of them offer classes. If you are still there, couldn't you just sign up for a class at another studio?
posted by Houstonian at 9:11 PM on September 16, 2009

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