Monday, February 20, 2012

Not Nail Polish: Language & Smoking

I've been wanting to post something about my Dad and then get back to nail polish, but first, I want to say a few words about the language used in regards to smokers.

1. I have smoked off and on since I was a teenager; I'm 36 now, so I've smoked a lot. (At one job, e.g., we took so many smoke breaks that I have no idea how we got any work done.)

2. I've smoked unfiltered Luckies, Camel Lighrts, Salem Lights, Winstons, Marlboro Reds, Marlboro special blend, Newports, and off-brand cheap smokes, but I always come back to Camels. They don't burn out as fast, and they taste better to me. And I found out this weekend that my maternal grandfather used to smoke them; his wife smoked Luckies, and that's who I stole my first cigarette from. They also used to sharecrop tobacco, so I often joke that I'm just following in tradition and supporting the (failing) local economy.

3. People who don't want you to smoke don't really do anything about it because they don't want to offend anybody, which leads me to the following examples:

1. At the hospital in Danville, there are countless signs proclaiming the hospital campus as a no smoking zone. This makes sense since it's a hospital. However, I only had one encounter during the entire 8 days I was up there with Daddy where someone actually asked me to move off hospital property. It was raining and gross outside the first weekend we were there, so my Uncle Harold and Aunt Bertha and I would hang out near the door with a few other smokers, huddling under the entrance awning to stay out of the rain. Only one security guard had the balls to tell us to move, so even though she got on my nerves, kudos to the chunky black security guard lady for actually enforcing rules. Other people would exit the hospital (and this always happened during off hours, not during the middle of the day when patients were coming in) and then mutter under their breath or gesture about us smokers as they walked away. Not a single one of them stopped to say anything to us, despite my overly loud taunting of someone to say something to my face, and the occasionally muttering of "Feeling froggy, motherfucker? Then jump."

2. I'm in graduate school at Winston-Salem State University, which has a "no smoking within 100 feet of any campus building" rule. Like the hospital, though, no one enforces this rule. I've been outside smoking lots of times, but today is the first time anyone actually said anything to me. "You do know that you can't smoke within 100 feet of campus buildings, right?" she said. "Yes," I replied with a smile. Of course I know this. There are signs all over the place. But did she ask me to move? Nope. Did she ask me to put out the cigarette? Nope. She just said that I could get a ticket for smoking too close to the buildings. Big deal, thought I. Bring on your stupid useless tickets.

Moral of the story:

If you are a non-smoker or someone who is a stickler for rules, and you catch someone smoking where they shouldn't be smoking, don't be a pussy. Tell the smoker that they need to move. Don't just mitigate your speech by framing your anti-smoking comment as a question. Fuck your questions. If you want to change someone's behavior, try asking the smoker(s) nicely to move to another location. I was outside with my Saudi Arabian friend, and I told her that if the woman had actually asked me to move -- instead of being borderline passive-aggressive about it -- I would have gladly moved away from the building. Just asking me a rhetorical question isn't going to cut it, and I'm pretty sure other smokers agree with my way of thinking.

A rule is only a rule if you have the cajones to enforce it.


  1. I want a "Feeling Froggy, Motherfucker?" t-shirt.

  2. Well, you've told me! My work just enforced a no-smoking on the property policy, if you want to smoke you have to go to the street's sidewalk. The other day I went sit on a bench outside my work (on property) and one of my coworkers was sitting there smoking, I should've have told his ass to MOVE!



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