Smoking cigarettes has always left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Not because I frequently smoke, but because of the effects it has on people. It transforms people from being greedy and selfish to charitable individuals. People who usually abide by the five-second rule (even with soup) become very health conscience. Most impressively of all, is the Rumpelstilkskin-esque ability of most smokers to conjure up money for cigarettes, when otherwise that money would not exist.
People tend to be stingy. I am one of those people. If I am eating a candy bar, Twix for example, and someone wants my other bar, I ignore that person. This person could be in the street starving, and my reluctance to share will not change. This mentality exists mostly because I firmly believe that if I were the Lazarus starving in the street, the rich man would not feed me his scraps. Even though the average man would be unwilling to give you the scraps from his table, I can almost guarantee you that same man would give me a cigarette at a moments notice. Perhaps it is the tar or other carcinogens, but something in the cigarette formula makes them share more than the average consumer.
Once, when I was working, my friend had someone ask him for a cigarette. He immediately reached into his pocket and pulled out his pack of Camels. Instead of picking one out and handing it to him, he extended the open end and said, “Oh, I don’t want to get my germs all over it.” They kindly thanked him and walked off with their germ-free cigarette. What I found ironic about this situation was that my friend was thoughtful enough to keep his harmless germs off of a cancer-causing addiction. The event, to this day, allows me to laugh even in the bleakest of situations.
It is this politeness that I find the most peculiar. Just the other day I was waiting for the shuttle and someone next to me lit up a cigarette. After a cloud of aerial death brushed past my face, they turned to me and apologized.
“Sorry if any of my smoke blows in your face.”
Thanks. The gesture is noticed, but your apology is not accepted. That person may have been genuinely sorry that they blew smoke in my face, but that doesn’t matter. They weren’t courteous enough to not do it in the first place. Let me compare this courtesy to my blatant rudeness. If you pass gas, and it smells, I will cover my nose. If I pass by you, and take a deep breath of your second hand smoke, I will obnoxiously cough. I might even pretend to die of lung cancer, who knows. I am not sorry and will not apologize for being rude, because you are filling my air with noxious fumes.
Passive smoking does a lot of other things to the human body and psyche. Other than increasing the risk of cancer, heart disease and asthma it also can trigger premature birth and cause a number of debilitating conditions in young children. Why worry about those things though?
If you want to spend money on an addictive substance that will slowly kill you, try binge drinking or McDonalds. These are victimless crimes (unless you drink and drive or spill hot coffee on yourself and cause a wreck). I could care less what you do to yourself. I only have a genuine concern what you do to me.