"When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it. I didn't inhale and never tried it again." –Bill Clinton
It was labor day weekend, and I was the manager on duty. The grocery store was one of those "no frills" places where people bagged their own groceries and took them out to their car. The floor was cement and the shelves were made out of wooden 2 x 4s. The products were often still the boxes they were shipped in, just cut open with easy access for customers to get what they needed. By far, we had the best prices, but the warehouse feeling of the store was almost too much for some people.
We were just about to close up for the night when a very loud whistling sound came from the far back corner of the store. It was like nothing I'd heard before. I tried to call the store manager, but he was out of town. The same was true for the store owner.
My assistant for the night was a cute girl who weighed maybe half of what I did. We looked at each other in concern, and then decided to check it out.
As we got closer to the back corner, the sound was so loud, we couldn't hear each other speak. It was from a large closet of sorts where the noise was originating. There was a fine, white mist coming from the room, but it wasn't smoke--nothing smelled like it was burning.
I told my assistant to wait outside the closet and I would go check it out. (That was me being the brave macho manager dude). I opened the door to find the room was filled with this white mist. In the room was all sorts of machines--none of which I recognized. I stepped in further, trying to see what was causing the issue. Very quickly, I started to feel light headed, and there was spots dancing before my eyes. A still small voice told me to get the heck out of there.
So I turned, and panicked for a moment when I couldn't see the door. I was really getting dizzy now and stumbled my way toward where I thought the door was. I found it and got out. The world was spinning now, and my assistant looked at me with pure fear in her eyes.
Somehow she helped me get to the front of the store--to this day, I'm not sure how. She must have been working out to get such a tall guy like me to move when my body didn't want to. At the front of the store was the fire department and an ambulance. Even in my foggy state, I wondered who had called them, to find out later, the fire alarm had tripped.
The next part was fuzzy, but I recall being placed in the ambulance next to my assistant where we were both put on oxygen. It turns out that that one of the compressors that kept the freezers cold sprung a leak and was spewing Freon into the air. Now, I don't know a lot about such things, but I was told breathing in Freon was bad--like too much and it could kill you kind of bad.
I survived, and I took a deeper lesson from it. Many times in my life, I've been placed in situations, both professionally and socially, where there are things around me that are dangerous. I'm not only talking about physical things, but also behaviors. At one of my places of employment where I ended up leaving on my own, the "air" was becoming polluted with negativity, micromanaging, double standards and questionable ethical behaviors.
Just like when I was in the room with the white mist that seemingly was harmless at first, longer exposure would most certainly have led to unpleasant results. So, again, I listened to that still small voice in my head that told me to "Get out!"--and I did.