Got a light?

I don’t think people rant about smokers the way they used to. I know I don’t. It would be like ragging on crack-heads. I don’t know any former smokers. Banned from their offices, from restaurants, even from bars in some cities… they huddle outside buildings in their shirt-sleeves in February, stamping their feet trying to keep warm. I always wonder what they’re talking about. Are they pissed about being “sent outdoors?” Or are they embarrassed that their addiction has brought them to this sorry state of affairs?

I try not to stare as I walk by. I hate seeing their furtive, defensive glances. They remind me, for all the world, of convicts in some 1940’s movie, milling around The Yard…waiting for the screws to tell them to go back to their cells. Or street bums huddled around a burn-barrel, sucking on a butt in some bombed-out neighborhood. Curious as I am about what drives these lost souls, I never approach them. I came close recently.

I was in the airport, walking past one of those little glass rooms they’ve constructed for smokers. There they were, jammed in, staring at the floor, the smoke so thick you could barely see them. I couldn’t resist. I took a picture. I took a couple. When they finally noticed me, some waved…one guy gave me the finger. I know it was insensitive of me. Like sneaking into the amputee ward at the hospital. But I couldn’t help myself. What –I wondered– could compel someone to sit in that little smoky room?

But that sounds like I have more sympathy than I do. Most of the smokers I know are pretty militant these days. (“Fuck you! I’ll smoke if I want to.”) I mean, where do they think it will all end. What goes through their heads when they see an emphysema sufferer dragging that little oxygen bottle through the mall? “Whoa. That looks like a drag.”

This is a recycled rant from an old Website. I dug it out after noticing that more people seem to be smoking today than ever before. Seems like I see lots of young smokers. I admire their fearlessness in braving what will probably be a long and agonizing death.

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