Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why Does Everybody Hate Me?

Honestly, people are rude these days.

I am a smoker. I love to smoke. When I die, you are going to have to pry the cigarette out of my cold dead hand. (Yes, yes, I know what I'm liable to die shut up already. I've already cut down from two and a half packs a day to less than one, but I'm not going any further than that. So there.)

However, because I truly hate people snapping and snarling at me, I go through the most amazing contortions to make myself the world's most considerate smoker. Obviously I don't smoke in other people's homes or cars or in airplane bathrooms or any of the other places you're not allowed to smoke (i.e., everywhere in the entire sidereal universe). And when I go away for the weekend to one of my family, all of whom live in houses with gardens, I even take a baggie with me so that they won't be stuck with filters all over their lawns. Tobacco is biodegradable - filters aren't. So I don't leave them in other people's gardens.

You can therefore understand why I get so infuriated when, after all that I go through to keep my horrible habit as unannoying as possible, people go out of their way to attack me.

I mean, perfect strangers. I was calmly walking down the street one day when some young girl made a detour to tell me I should quit smoking. I had never seen this person before in my life. Another time I was standing outside my office having a cigarette when some guy (again a perfect stranger) walked all the way across the building's plaza to tell me not to smoke. Well, if it bothers him that much, why the hell is he coming so close to the cigarette? And once I came out of a building on 57th and 6th during rush hour. There were city buses and about ten trucks (not to mention the usual cars and taxis) in a huge traffic jam in the street, all honking madly and sending up completely visible plumes of black exhaust. As soon as I lit my cigarette, some guy walking by started to cough ostentatiously (and in a very fake manner - trust me, I know coughs) and wave his hand around in front of his face. My God, if the guy is that goddamn sensitive, whatever is he doing on a midtown street at rush hour to begin with?

But my all-time favorite was the day in Washington Square Park when I was sitting on a bench reading a book and smoking. Now I had carefully picked this particular bench because it was empty and there were very few people anywhere near it (I said I was considerate, didn't I?). Then a woman sitting on the bench opposite me, across a rather wide path, sent her four year old daughter over to tell me that "Mommy says you shouldn't smoke."

Now we're getting into the realm of complete idiocy. Can you imagine sending a four year old to talk to a stranger in the middle of Washington Square for any reason? Given the amount of space between where I was and where this mother was, I could have easily knifed the kid before her mom could even get off the bench. This is loony behavior.

Honestly, I have often wanted to stop total strangers on the street to complain about what they're doing (being a tourist in Times Square when I'm trying to get to the subway during the Christmas season is one of my grounds for complaint). And I see these huge fat families walking along eating enormous ice cream cones with bag of potato chips tucked in their pockets and I want to grab them and say, "What on EARTH are you doing to your body?" And many, many times (such as when we had that snow a few days ago and I spotted some poor fashion victim tromping about with bare legs and leopard print stilettos on) I have wanted to grab someone and yell, "For God's sake, don't you know how to dress?"

But I don't. Because I have manners and I don't think it's any of my business how other people choose to live if they're not doing it in my lap. (Although I might make an exception for those damn tourists, who ARE doing it in my lap by stopping dead in their tracks without warning to go, "Look at them lights, Maud!")

I mean, really...just let me go to hell in my own way and I'll let you go in yours, okay?

Love, Wendy

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