What is it with smoking!
So, I’m sitting here in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s a lovely day, I’ve had a lovely walk and a lovely meal. I’ve seen some lovely things, and I’m drinking some very lovely wheat beer. There are two almost lovely girls sitting at the table to my right. Nearly irrelevantly, I was here before them, but really, that is a distraction and irrelevant. As soon as they sat down, out came a box of “Pall Mall” fags, and out came a lighter. Both items are remaining on the table for frequent use. Cigarets have been lit up, and drifting smoke is slithering over to me.
I’ve come to a pretty simple position on this. I don’t care about the health effects one jot. In fact, if tomorrow, smoking is found to beneficial, like salad foods that are coloured red, that doesn’t change this entire diatribe one bit.
<<< Stage directions: please add in one second of delay between each of the following words, and sound them in your mind with ludicrous gravitas >>>
<<< Thank you. First use of caps lock on my Mac. >>>
It makes my eyes sting. It covers up the delicious tastes of my meal. It wafts about me and makes my clothes, unkempt hair and skin stink. It’s very simple: it’s foul, disgusting, horrible, and extremely inconsiderate.
Here’s how I look at it. If I’m sitting in a restaurant or a café, I don’t listen to music loudly on my headphones, or listen to personal music at all, in fact. I don’t shout obscenities at people passing by, or curse under my breath. I don’t belch. I try not to fart, and if I do, I do it quietly and feel damn embarrassed if it’s a smelly one. If I cough, I cover my mouth. I almost never walk about asking people crazy questions about whether they think the week begins on a Sunday or Monday. I certainly make sure that I’ve washed some time in the last week or so. I don’t sit outside a nice café and piss myself or crap in my pants. Hypothetically, should this ever happen, I’d leave really quickly. I’d probably make for a loo and try to somehow clean up. I’m not sure what I’d do next.
What I try to do, above all, is not to impinge on other people’s lovely times by being obnoxious.
Incredibly, I am able to pull off this feat – this enormous effort of politeness and tact – almost without the slightest, microscopic, infinitesimal quantum of effort. In fact, I think I can safely say that it requires absolutely no conscious effort on my part whatsoever.
Just occasionally, I screw up. At the moment, for example, I’m battling a near irrepressible urge to approach the two almost lovely girls at the table adjacent, and ask them if they’d like to scan over the very words you are currently reading. As they’re just defecating in to the air for the third time since sitting down, preventing myself from doing this is requiring the application of considerable self control.
And here is a problem, I must reflect on the fact that many people might even find my use of a laptop in this jolly nice café extremely unpleasant. They could be offended by my rather shabby shoes; or by my warn black t-shirt, that I noticed earlier while walking by the river, has holes in the armpits. My black socks with “Thursday” embroidered on them in red, when it is quite clearly Sunday afternoon, might cause disquiet. Perhaps some, might be offended by me being here single, or by me getting a dollop of quite excellent sauce on my chin while munching from my smashing burger. Given: my hair is in appalling need of very significant attention. Should that be the case, I am truly sorry, and I think within reason, if informed of causing offence, I would try my level best to adjust, or find some way to accommodate the position of those with a different set of priorities to myself.
But – I’m still sure there is a lot of common ground between us humans sitting in lovely cafés. Shouting vulgarities at passers by is right out. Rubbing your own shit or vomit on your companions, the table, the wall close to you, and flicking the left overs at anyone close by, similarly, is frowned upon. It’s just incredible to me that, apparently, lighting up a foul smelling weeds rolled up in paper, while people around you are sitting down and trying to eat and drink, is apparently still “just fine, no problem, thanks” here in very lovely Dusseldorf.