Saturday, October 30, 2010

Smoking Induces The Strangest Encounters

I'm a smoker. A relatively polite smoker at that. But a smoker nonetheless.

There are places I won't smoke, like the car, restaurants, or in someones face basically. I respect the fact that people aren't fond of second hand smoke. So I trudge outside and away from people. Invariably someone tracks me down though when I'm outside of the mall where I work to "chit chat."

Now if they're a fellow smoker there's no real harm in this. I can't kill them with my second hand smoke any worse than the first hand smoke they inflict upon themselves I figure. But to tell you the truth I don't go outside to socialize with anyone. I'm not a social smoker. I'm on the clock and just trying to inhale and exhale as quickly as possible and get back to work. The whole speaking and smoking at the same time thing slows the process down. I really have no interest in multi-tasking during the course of one of life's death inducing activities simple pleasures for me.

In essence I just want to be left alone to inflict this damage to myself.

Friday afternoon I exit the mall, make the right turn down the sidewalk, and trudge about 20 yards away from the mall entrance, only to be followed by someone. A short rotund old lady rose off the bus waiting bench her ass was warming to speak to me. A non-smoking short rotund old lady.

This sidewalk leads to... exactly nowhere. Exactly the place a polite smoker goes to smoke. (You know, away from short rotund old ladies as a matter of fact.)

As I see her waddling toward me I turn away from her and wander down another 5 yards to the end of the sidewalk to nowhere. I turn to see this hasn't deterred her advance upon me. It then hit me what she was after, or so I thought at the time, she wanted a cigarette. As she draws nearer I dig one out, and my lighter. I figured I'd just save some time, hand it over, and be able to smoke in peace.

Wrong move apparently, as the following conversation took place:

Short Rotund Old Lady: Put that damn thing away.
Me: Um, okay.
Short Rotund Old Lady: Nasty damn habit.
Me: What can I do for you ma'am?
Short Rotund Old Lady: Young man, don't you know those things can kill you?
Me: Well ma'am, you're not the first to tell me that.
Short Rotund Old Lady: I used to smoke myself. If I can quit anyone can. You need to quit smoking. Now I can't even stand the smell of those damn things any more.
Me: Is this what you came over here for?
Short Rotund Old Lady: Yes. 
Me: Well, thanks for the advice, but I've got to get back to work.
Short Rotund Old Lady: Are you going to quit?
Me: Ma'am, really, thank you for your concern, but no I'm not going to quit.
Short Rotund Old Lady: Don't you care about your health? Don't you have any will power?
Me: Ma'am I'm sure your intentions are very good here, but I don't know you, I'm not bothering anyone, unless they decide to chase me down and give me a lecture, so I think it's just best if we part ways now.
Short Rotund Old Lady: So now you're scared of an old lady, huh?
Me: Okay ma'am, my boss is a pretty understanding guy so I guess we can discuss this a little more if you really want to. I can deal with crazy intrusive people when necessary.
Short Rotund Old Lady: I'm not crazy, and whatever that other word is either!
Me: Ma'am, you got off a bench that is located about 10 yards from the mall entrance, followed me approximately 35 yards away from said bench, to intrude upon my time. My much preferred alone time and much preferred alone spot away from people who don't like the smell and second hand smoke of cigarettes. Now.....

(And then I stop and remind myself she's an old lady. Just walk away I tell myself, walk away. 

As I start to step around her she grabs my arm.)

Short Rotund Old Lady: Don't you care about your health? What about the cost smoking puts on our health care system? We all have to pay for this nasty habit you know. I'm a senior citizen who has trouble paying for insurance as it is. This habit costs all of us.

(Fuck, fuck, fuck.... ah fuck it.)

Me: Ma'am, I'm going to leave you with a thought about the cost of health care. One just as valid as the one you're trying to shove up my ass. There are studies that have shown obesity costs us far more than smoking does. I'm willing to make a deal with you. I'm going to guess that you're approximately 75 pounds overweight. When you lose 50 of those pounds come back and see me. I'll quit smoking and we can crusade together hitting up every buffet in the state railing against the people who fill up more than 3 plates of food. We can wreak havoc and mayhem stealing their plates, blocking the buffet line, overturning the dessert bar, what ever it takes, all in the name of caring about their health and the obesity problem plaguing this country. Is that a deal?
Short Rotund Old Lady: What? Huh? What are you talking about?
Me: Nothing, I'm just talking about my need to get back to work, and away from busybodies.
Short Rotund Old Lady: You just don't.... what are you....? I'm confused.
Me: Yes you are, but have a nice day regardless.

So now I'm not only a non-social smoker but an asshole as well. I reduced myself from six feet tall to about 6 inches tall in stature in less than 5 minutes. Man, I know better than this. If this person had been my age, or younger, there would be absolutely no remorse, and probably harsher words said in all reality. I'm hoping I was just tired though due to only getting about 4 hours of sleep the night before. I'm usually polite and deferring to senior citizens. Even crazy ones. Damn.   


Mustang Sally said...

You know JPT, of all the things you've written here, I don't think I've ever disagreed with any thing you've said, or any action you've taken in a given situation until now. Sometimes I think we went to the same school of thought, but I have to tell you this time I think you're in the wrong.

You may be an asshole, but if you are this isn't the reason. The way I see it the woman was WAY overdue for a lesson in manners ... and you delivered.

I know, I know, respect of elders and all ... and for the most part I agree with that and try to live that way myself. But just as that "Customer is always right" crap is a line of hooey, so is the idea you get a pass on all matters of shit just because you've lived of few years longer.

She obvious hasn't used those years very well if she hasn't yet learned you don't just jump a random stranger's ass over something that is none of your business to begin with.

If it makes you feel any better, think of it like this ... you were used by the universe as an instrument of instant karma. I had a similar instance once, only it regarded driving rather than smoking. I felt guilty too, for about a minute lol.

GoofyGirl said...

I tend to, when told that I should quit because "it will kill [me]!", make my eyes really wide, pretend to tear up, drop the cigarette and stomp it out crying "Oh my god! really?! Thank you so much, I had no idea!" Then I lunge at them for a hug. ... they usually back away rather quickly at that point.
The other reply, depending on my mood that day/moment is to reply with "you know what kills faster than cigarettes? Smokers that are being interrupted by strangers giving unsolicited advice."

Best part? Free laugh for me.

Jane said...

You have a right to do what you choose to do. It's no one else's flaming business.


Gail said...

I think you did very well! And once again have given me something to smile are good!

Sarahf said...

I'm not a smoker, I hate the smell of smoke almost as much as I hate inconsiderate smokers blowing smoke in my face. But, you have the right to shorten your life in any way you please, as long as you don't force it on other people. I choose ice cream and beer, you choose cigarettes. The old lady was being an asshole, not you. I only wish I could be as articulate.

Just Plain Tired said...

Mustang Sally -- I usually give old folks a pass, especially the crazy ones. did get a great night of sleep last night though. Maybe it was worth it.

GoofyGirl -- Now there's some things for me to consider trying myself. ;)

Jane -- There's that for sure.

Gail -- I try to bring a little smile and sunshine into one's life on occasion. ;)

Sarahf -- All good points. (Naturally they're good when I agree with them anyway.) ;)

Michelle Andaya said...

Nice post.

Why do you surround yourself with these kind of women? Lol.

Anyway, I am a non smoker. But I tried it once.

My husband chews tobacco. And incidentally, I scheduled him for auriculotherapy next Saturday so he can quit for good. I told him I'll be supportive 100% this time. He quit once before but I was not really all that helpful then. This time, I told him, when he feels like chewing and is having a nicotine fit, tell me and I'll do ANYTHING to help. Man, he's been very willing and keeps asking me if I'm "keeping my end of the bargain."

Just Plain Tired said...

Michelle Andaya - I can't help but wonder what your "end of the bargain entails." ;)

But seriously, I hope he can kick the habit.

MichelleLCSW said...

Aw shit, if THAT response to crazy old lady makes you an "asshole," then I am friggin' Satan on earth! Free passes to old people? Maybe ONE, just out of politeness...but if they KEEP on, their "get out of jail free card" is used - and they get the same treatment everyone else gets - REALITY CHECK!!!

Seriously though - I can't even picture you being an asshole (to anyone's face) - you seem like you are the perpetual gentleman to people (and then WE in blogland get to enjoy what was REALLY going on in your mind! tee hee hee)

darev2005 said...

Being rude to busybodies is preferable and more humane and probably more legal than beating them to death with their own limbs, which is what they deserve. And confusing them while being rude is even sweeter. You deserve a medal.

Just Plain Tired said...

MichelleLCSW -- I'm not too sure about being a perpetual gentlemen, but I don't go out of my way to be rude I guess. ;)

darev2005 -- She was definitely confused when I walked away from her. ;)

Miss Melicious said...

I really like old people...always's this odd quirk with me I guess. Anyways, that said, for about 10 awesome seniors you always get a nosey, inconsiderate, meddler. Was it good that you put her in her place? ...well that's debatable... Did she have it coming?..most definitely.

Just Plain Tired said...

Miis Melicious -- You summed it up very well, and pretty much as I see it too. I like old people myself, and do feel they deserve respect.

FallDown Girl said...

I think you did great! You said what needed to be said, stood your ground and although you used some strong words, you were polite about it. You didn't come right out and call HER fat ("overweight" is a MUCH less hurtful word than "fat"). I've also never bought into the "respect your elders" credo. I respect all until they show me they don't deserve my respect. Good job. ~~Marie

Just Plain Tired said...

FallDown Girl -- Thanks! I curbed my tongue with her somewhat I guess.

Jen said...

As a non-smoker with asthma, I appreciate the fact that you find an isolated spot outdoors to smoke. Thank you.

Dazee Dreamer said...

honestly, you had every right to get back in her face. It would have been one thing if you had not cared about others, but for her to follow you, that was just wrong. and what if you had been a seriel killer. huh, what would she have thought then. dumb bitch.

Smart Ass Sara said...

So here's the deal. I've worked with all KINDS of old people for a very long time. The first thing I learned is that people don't just get this way because they're old. Nope- they've been some shade of the same personality their entire lives but for whatever reason, could keep their damn mouths shut. But as soon as you start receiving Social Security Retirement benefits, you apparently get the ok to act like a fucking ignorant asshole. I've seen it time and time again. While I agree people need to be respectful to those older than us more so than our peers.... it's also something that isn't a given. You need to earn it. And if you're going to be a dickweed and be all preachy on someone YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW...then it doesn't matter if you're Jesus himself- you just don't get to do that without opening yourself up for an attack of words.

I'm thrilled that you put her in her place because that? Totally unacceptable. Crazy old people.

JY said...

I tend to agree with most of your readers. Hubs is the same as you...kind of one of those "go stand in a corner and smoke" kinda guy. And while yes... senior citizens do NEED to be respected...they also need to EARN that respect as is not always an automated right! You did well...!

Charlene said...

There are people who think they are perfect and there are people who aren't. She wasn't perfect but thought her age gave her a pass to give you a piece of her mind. This results in crazy.

Noner said...

My dad is a multi-pack a day smoker. I quit trying to talk him into quitting years ago. It sucks that I'll probably lose him to lung cancer (he's lost 4 siblings to cancer, so its safe to say he's probably already genetically predisposed) but you just cant MAKE an addict give up their addiction. Its something one has to chose to do on their own.

Now, I leave him be, and ignore most other smokers as long as I can avoid them.

I grew up with it, knew I didn't much care for it (even as a little girl I noticed that second hand smoke made me cough...and it smelled bad) but I didn't realize how much I hated it till I moved away from home.

That was around the same time that someone smoking in their car tossed a lit but out of their car window, which blew into MY car window, landed in my lap and burnt the crap out of my leg. I wish I could have caught up with them and shoved the still lit but down their throat.

However, now that I'm grown up and in the working world I'm thinking of taking up the smoking habit.

Mostly because where I work all the managers smoke, and therefore turn their backs when other smokers who work there go outside several times a day to have a cig (They don't move too far away from the door though...just a few feet over to the left where an ash tray and bench have been set up for them. I've asked for a bench on the other side, away from the smoke, for the rest of us to sit on, but haven't seen one yet) I mean, I'm lucky to get one break in a 10 hour sift because I'm inside covering breaks for the smokers, but if I started smoking maybe I would get more breaks of my own and some other non-smoker could be inside covering MY breaks.

I'm also short and I'm actually about 100 pounds overweight. I'm not old quite yet though, just easing up on 30. Short Morbidly Obese Middle Aged Woman just doesn't have the same flow to it though. However, now that I think of it, it might make a good title for a bad sitcom......or a blog. Heh....

In the past 5 years I've gone to the doctor just a handful of times, 1. I impaled myself on a cup hook at work. 2. I fell off a broken ladder at work while trying to get a tree bigger than me down for a customer. (it was missing a foot, and rocked over to one side tossing my keester off it in the process, and the customer didn't even buy the tree.....) 3. I Caught a nasty case of strep throat from a customer at work. 4. I got pregnant and made a mini-me (well, a mini-hubs actually since it was a boy)

With the exception of my son, I think my job has cost the medical industry more than my weight has. I wonder if that would be a valid reason to quit my job?

Wow, this entire comment is a lot longer than I thought it would be when I started and should be a blog post in its own. Maybe I'll copy it and re-post one day when I have nothing else to say (which is most days actually.)

YummY! Down on This

Noner said...

PS. Sorry for my super long comment. I really didn't realize it was THAT long and just further goes to show that I have no life. (and I also DID use it as a blog post)

Sandra said...

Maybe you were having a nic-fit because shortrotundlady wasn't letting you get a good drag of your cigarette.
I applaud you. And you're still funny when you're trying to take the high road. I like you on the low road. And, the bonus, shortrotundlady said you were a young man (which of course you are, but it's always nice when someone reitirates it) and you successfully confused her. All in all, I'd say it was a good day at the mall.

Just Plain Tired said...

Jen -- I'm a firm believer in not being a douche and smoking around others who don't like it.

Dazee Dreamer -- As always you make a valid point. I could have been a nutcase and she could have been in real trouble then ;)

Smart Ass Sara -- You know something? You're right, ever since I turned 50 I have a tendency to be a bit more blunt in comments to people than when i was younger myself. ;)

JY -- Thanks, and stuff. ;)

Charlene -- Yup. This area of mall seems to have all the crazy people as it's where the bus stop is. There are a lot of strange people who ride that bus out to the mall.

Noner -- Wow, what a lengthy comment, and impressively passive/aggressive at that. While I'm pretty sure what point(s) you were trying to raise, you never really made one clearly. (Other than the fact that you dislike smoking/smokers.)

But hey, I provided you a topic for your blog so that has to count for something, right? ;)

Sandra -- I don't think I can qualify as young any more. Just not senior citizen status as of yet. ;)

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

Love it-just turned 49 and I'm with you on bluntness....great post.

Noner said...

I had actually planned to stop after the first paragraph. Not really meaning to make a point with the rest of it, just running off at the mouth.

Just Plain Tired said...

Nakamuras on Saipan -- Glad I could please you, and stuff.

Noner -- No problem, my mouth can run off at times as well. Sometimes the "written" words a person leaves can be interpreted in many different ways. I was just wondering where your comment was heading is all.