I did a good deed today. Okay, actually not. In fact I was a real bitch but I did take her mind off the problem for a few minutes. Here’s the story: Walking to the library today on relatively clean pavement because the library is a bit off by itself, I met a girl who was most likely leaving the library & mad as a hornet. She was shading to purple right there on the sidewalk. No idea what made her so mad, but what made it worse was that she was out of cigarettes. She clearly wanted to shove one in her face & light up but instead came up with an empty pack – which she wadded up to a ball & threw to the ground, whammo!
As I passed I oinked, not actually like a pig – I am a lady of a certain age, after all – just said “Oink oink”.
“Same to you!” she hollered, & followed this with a stream of abuse I didn’t catch but could figure out for myself. See – now she had me to be furious at too, scrappy old bat making fun of her need. Redirecting anger – isn’t that healthy? No, it’s not. Yes, I grinned all the way home anyway. Mea culpa.
A few years ago I worked for an idealistic travel agency that sent people out as volunteers all over the place. It was really interesting & I admired the people – especially the young people – who paid good money to go work their tails off someplace with no hot water. Once 3 young Frenchmen landed in Vietnam just as a spring flood struck & they were marooned in their hostel for several days. You could hear their emails yelling, they were so frustrated because they couldn’t get cigarettes. (Food was barely mentioned.) Our German cooperation partner & I had a lot of online fun about it, but my boss, who lit up every time things got complicated, wasn’t laughing. I understood, of course. When you’re in a stressful situation, that’s when you really need the nicotine, just like the angry girl who was library-livid today.
The thing is, the rest of us are so annoyed by the general run of smokers that our sympathy is all used up. I remember walking home from a café with a smoker friend who thought she could buy cigs at the train station but could not. She assaulted every person we passed trying to cadge a smoke. Unsuccessfully. It was like the time my little brother thought it was a hoot to wear a silly lady’s hat one of our grandmother’s friends forgot & I walked on the other side of the street, as if that fooled anyone. I guess it was just the demonstration I was going for. You do that when you’re big sis. I didn’t do it with my smoker friend, but the urge was there.
When I first got to Denmark in 1973, half of the population smoked but it seemed like more because they had total dominance. If you asked them not to you were violating their rights & acting prissy as well. If you wanted to take pictures at a party it had to happen in the first hour, after that there was a blue pall you could barely see through, no matter how many children or asthmatics were present. There were already smoking laws in the US & I was appalled at the Danes & their cigs, but always impressed at how clean the streets were. Now there are also smoking laws here, thank goodness, but the streets are no longer so clean. Back then they smoked indoors with ashtrays all around. Now they’re out in the cold & too many smokers just drop their butts where they take the last heave. I know they are a minority but they make a big mess. Maybe they know they are a pain & the reason smokers are the new lepers. Many smokers feel terribly abused. I hope they know they which of their soulmates to thank.
Oink oink – man, that felt good!
Happy New Year!