smoking
A can of paint dumped on a rock that Michelle Schile uses for her smoke breaks. (Michelle Schile/Facebook)

An anti-smoking crusader has made national headlines following months of passive-aggressive behaviour directed at a Saanich school employee who’s just trying to enjoy a cigarette.

Michelle Schile, an employee at Lochside Elementary School, told the National Post that she’s taken her smoke breaks on a rock alongside a pathway near Lochside Drive for 15 years.

Schile said she chose the spot because it keeps her out of view of students, and is one of the few places it’s still legal to smoke in the area. (She even confirmed as much with the municipality.)

However, that tranquility was finally disturbed in January when Schile came out to her rock only to find someone had piled mud and manure on top of it.

“Now I understand smoking is a dirty habit, but someone felt it was their duty to send me a message in this way,” wrote Schile in a Facebook post.

Schile told the National Post that cyclists will hurl abuse at her as often as twice a week when passing by. “Usually they’ll say ‘stop smoking!’ … and another guy, every time he went by he would cough really loudly and aggressively,” she said.

But the mud and manure was different. And even that was just the start, with the displays becoming more and more elaborate as the months proceeded.

Schile has come outside to find her rock covered in paint, oil, bacon grease, garbage, and even discarded crab shells. And no matter how many times she cleans it off, the mystery aggressor just piles on stuff again.

At one point, another individual got in on the action, adorning the rock with a wooden cross and a sign reading “Jesus is Lord.”

Schile told the National Post that she doesn’t know who’s behind the garbage. But she thinks she may have met them in person, as an older man once stopped his bike to ask her, “why don’t you just smoke in your car and keep the cancer in your own family?”

Saanich police told the National Post that they can’t press criminal harassment charges unless they have cause to believe Schile is in personal danger. Sgt. Jereme Leslie confirmed as much when contacted by Victoria Buzz.

But besides grainy video footage that captured someone from the waist down dumping garbage on the rock, Schile and Saanich police have nothing to go on in finding the perpetrator.

Schile said up to 12 cyclists pass her during each break, making the suspect’s identity a mystery.

“Every time one goes by I think, ‘it could be any one of these people,'” she said.

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