Sep 21, 2008

Thank You For NOT Smoking

An epistle to the nicotine addicts of the isle of Manhattan:
(which may sound slightly self-righteous)

I didn't see the movie but I know this much is true:

I express sincere gratitude, as "you"- those with the penchant to indulge a fuming habit formerly thought to be healthy- refrain from doing so.

I'm not apathetic. There exists at least a shred of understanding or degree of sympathy for those who are burdened by the pains of addiction. BUT (yes, there is a BUT) the strength of human will, though not wholly discovered, has been proven throughout history. We, as a human race, can in fact overcome the most difficult of challenges. From surviving the life-threatening infringements of totalitarian governments, to braving scorching coals with bare feet to prove the validity of mind over matter- WE have succeeded time and time again in overcoming a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. And so, straddled quite comfortably on my high horse, I offer these words of encouragement.

and I implore you to do so.

New York State, in an attempt to better the respiratory health of its citizens, implemented smoking bans in publicly used spaces and buildings. We are no longer greeted by a restaurant hostess "smoking or non?" We can enjoy the tart smell of airplane cleaning agents rather than stale recirculated smoke when traveling. We don't have to suffer the health effects of second hand smoke, much thanks to our government ...
or at least those effects are mitigated, right?

WRONG. En route to work I experience a constant cloud of benzene, formaldehyde, tar, ammonia, acetone and other cigarette chemical exhalants - exponentially more than I recall at any other point in my life (excluding a 6 month stint in Rome). Granted, cigarette sales in Salt Lake City probably are markedly lower than other booming metropoli - but really? Car exhaust and air pollution aren't enough? Now I have to deal with your harmful emissions too?

I exit Grand Central and head due East on 42nd - making the trek to a bizarre architectural experiment known as Tudor City, where my present office is located (thank you marci for the enlightenment). Due to the booming canine population, it has been nicknamed "Two Dog City, which I deem as an apt assessment- since I counted 18 dogs on one short block last Thursday. As I cross the avenues of Lexington, Third and Second I strategically pass the morning commuters with a cigarette in tow. I exhale for 10 counts and quickly breath between the small groups of smokers who have gathered outside of their buildings- office outcasts banished to the streets to satiate their addictions. I turn my head. I wave my hand to dissipate your cloud. I cross the street. I spend the ensuing 11 minutes avoiding your unhealthy habits at all costs.

In my self-consumption and personal interest, I can't help but wonder how your poor decisions have become my burden to bear? Why must I work so intently to avoid the consequences of your addictions, while you sit idly on a bench or enjoy a morning chat with those who share your habit? How did YOUR cigarette become MY problem?


Maybe you don't want to quit- and surely I could review the litany of reasons why that decision is inane- but I'll spare you. (Maybe you don't have better things to spend your money on? The cost of a pack of cigarettes averages around $4.50 to $5, including taxes, depending on where you live. In New York it's closer to $7. Using the lower number, a pack-a-day smoker burns through about $31.50 per week, or $1,638 per year.) BUT, that decision, my friend is your prerogative.

My prerogative, however, is to saunter the streets of Manhattan without timing my exhales with the clouds of smoke spilling forth from your nostrils and lips. My prerogative is to arrive at work smelling as fresh and as clean as I did after emerging from a zestfully clean shower, rather than the stale smell of the carcinogenic toxins you blew into my hair. My prerogative is to live a life free of the consequences of tobacco addiction because I've chosen not to first hand, second hand or tenth hand experience a cigarette.

So, in conclusion, I appreciate your help and cooperation in advance.
Thank you for not smoking.


E.F.G. said...

i saw the nastiest thing the other morning...a grubby looking fellow bent down to pick something up from a crack in the sidewalk. i squinted wondering what he could possibly be doing. then i saw him put a half smoked cigarette butt into his mouth and light it. disgusting...DISGUSTING!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for some months now and I have to say that this one is my fav. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I once smoked and I now get it. The nuisance it causes everyone else who does not smoke.

I hate that I can't walk downstairs to get my laundry without smelling like my brother's smoke. thanks for the much needed (much needed) morning laugh

angelique said...

ew, do you remember that wedding luncheon at the restaurant in Arena when we were breathing into our water glasses to try to avoid the all-encompassing pall of second-hand smoke that permeated the entire room? - btw, you should see the movie, hiLARious

Alisha Stamper said...

hilarious. i needed the laugh. can you please write (with your gift for prose) about boys and body odor at shows? or, maybe i just will. Having experienced THAT this weekend, it was nice to just laugh and agree with someone else who wishes the rest of the world would get a clue.

nikki said...

Amen to that. How I always want to shout out when I am walking... "Could you please refrain from blowing your smoke in my baby's face, jerkface!" I refrain but I am shouting it on the inside nonetheless.

Stephanie said...

You should see this movie. It's hilarious.

valerie said...

I miss your tirades in person, but I'll read the written ones gladly.

naomi megan said...

one of my biggest pet peeves.
and no one could have said it any better.
i agree completely.

Rebecca Smylie said...

Yeah. When the babe was first born, I had an instinct to protect. It was about eight days before I realized that there was nothing I could do: she was going to get Asthma.