Herbal Incense


It was just another day at Tafe. The lunch ‘smoko’ break had well and truly finished and I was sitting with my back against the corrugated steel wall that housed the plumbing classrooms and main practical room. The doors hadn’t opened for class yet. Smoko had finished ten minutes previous. No one seemed to care or stick to a schedule at Tafe.

All the doors were locked during each smoko break and it was common for the teachers to start class anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes late.

I was doing my first block of Tafe and was hating every moment of it. It was like being at school again with a classroom full of immature teenage boys. I was the only girl.

As I was leaning my back against the wall, sitting on the hard concrete, I busied myself with my blackberry by playing a game. I tried to make simple conversation with some of the guys in my class but found it hard as most would only give me one worded answers and didn’t really seem keen to talk to me. I had been deemed a lesbian. All girl plumbing apprentices were *lesbians apparently.

I looked at the time on my phone and realized I (as well as the rest of the guys in not only my class, but other classes) had been waiting for 20 minutes.

A couple of meters away alongside the same wall I was leaning on, the roof apprentices were laughing and carrying on. I looked up at them and instantly smelled a smell that I hadn’t smelt before.

I sniffed the air and mentally tried to decipher what the strange smell was. It wasn’t pleasant, nor unpleasant.

It wasn’t food. It wasn’t drink. Could it be a strange deodorant? No, that wasn’t it. It smelled almost like a herbal perfume… like incense. Incense! Someone was burning incense.

I tried to work out where the incense was being burned from and my eyes and nose led me to the group of roof plumbers who were still laughing in their little group.

Inwardly, I was impressed with my sense of smell and to have worked out what the aroma was. Yay me!  Finally a Tafe teacher walked around the corner from the staff room to open up the Tafe shed.

The laughing had increased by a couple of decibels when the teacher arrived and one of the roof apprentices ran towards an open shipping container that was sitting adjacent from where we were all sitting. It perplexed me because it was as if he was running to hide.

There was a lot of swearing and yelling that followed after the roof apprentice ‘Ah you f-wit, who lights a joint just before entering a classroom?’

It was at that moment I realized that what I had smelt was not in fact incense but marijuana. A herbal incense of sorts.

God Almighty I prayed. What was I DOING here?? Who were these apprentices? In all my time at school and even having worked in the transport industry, I had never come across anyone taking drugs.

The Tafe teacher seemed unaware of what he had just walked past. He obviously had no sense of smell to detect the distinct pong that lingered in the air.

While taking drugs on a government campus (or anywhere) is not something I condone, nor would want to make fun of, I laugh at my naivety at suspecting the smell was incense. What male apprentice plumber would light up incense at Tafe?

That was the first and last time I smelt pot being smoked. And it had to be a roof plumber to give me that enlightenment. And no, no one reported him, and yes, he got away with it. I was outnumbered and certainly didn’t want to make a scene especially in my first week of Tafe. But it was a close call and could have turned ugly if the teacher became aware of what he had walked past. Or maybe he did and just didn’t care. That was how Tafe rolled.

Have you ever smelt something unusual?  What was it?

I’m linking up with Laugh Link.

*I don’t want to cause any offense by using this term, but it was used throughout my apprenticeship and as I am retelling what happened, I’m using the lingo used back then.

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