Friday, June 1, 2012

Smokers and non-smokers standoff. How interesting

(Sun pm) Preface: I wrote this a few days ago and held it. Mostly because I desperately wish to avoid offending anybody on this. Pets, smoking, kids, religion are all dangerous places to play. But a trusted buddy managed to see it and endorsed it. OK then, but I'm still nervous...

Interesting social event today. Invited to come out to lunch by a couple of great friends who said there'd be other great people there.

I turned up on time, admittedly to the minute, and found my buddies sitting inside. Nice group. I also heard there were a couple of others outside.

After we had moved to a larger table in anticipation of our two other friends, one came in and said "we're outside, aren't you coming out?"

Umm. Uncomfortable silence, amongst candid discussions that outside meant "we can smoke quite freely and that's what we like to do".

This cascades a whole heap of emotional baggage from childhood. You can see how I've moved past it. Ahem.

I was never a smoker. As a kid the message to me was "if you don't like my smoke, then sit somewhere else". I was always made very aware of smokers' rights. And a personal dislike of mine is when people who don't smoke seem to feel they're morally superior to those who do.

So back to the cafe, 2012. The quiet message was "come on, come outside so that we can smoke freely because we enjoy it" and when the group wouldn't, there were two separate lunch dates.

It's a little weird. If I had've turned up and everybody was outside, then I'd be drinking my nice Serafino wine and eating my very nice gnocchi puttanesca amongst intermittent bouts of blue smoke. But the guys would probably have been considerate, no?

So, weird. I'll just speak to my general position around smoking. Nobody's action offends me if it doesn't harm me, or offend my basic values (very subjective I know). But smoking in itself is not offensive to me. It's not immoral, it's not a drain on the public purse (the taxes will have covered those medical bills) and in fact it gives pleasure to many people. No issue.

But I do find the smell unpleasant. If I sat at a table and could smell a person's body odour from three metres away I'd be a little unhappy. And I certainly wouldn't look for opportunities to be near Mr BO.

Almost always on a brisk winter morning, if I choose to sit outside I will have to share the air with another person's blue smoke. First world problems, I know.

So I know the concern of a person who likes a cigarette. Is there nowhere I can go to do this legal activity? Take it from me. If you're within - I think - ten metres of any other person then you can't be performing your legal activity without reducing another person's pleasure.

So to the friend I haven't really met yet, I respect your decision to enjoy your meal the way you like. Did the people around you have the same option? And it's unfortunate we didn't get to sit together, but we may, one day.

And circumstances might make it that I simply have to suck it up and shut up. As I have done - with smoking - at various times in my life. And often it's been worth it. But not today.

Man, I hope this doesn't look like I think I'm better than people who enjoy a cigarette. Alas, I'm sure some will take it that way.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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