Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Lately, I'm noticing that things make me madder than they used to. It's probably the perimenopausal hormonal rushes and insomnia kicking in, but I'm finding that I have far less tolerance for human rudeness and stupidity than at any other time in my life. Or, maybe it's being a parent. Maybe the responsiblity of guiding my two little boys into manhood in a world in which courtesy and common sense seem to be vanishing right along with the polar ice caps has turned me into a short-tempered harpy. Whatever the reason, I'm all fired up. Again. I know. What else is new?

So, what set me off today? Well, if you've been following along for a while, you might guess that it has something to do with political bickering and immaturity in our country. Nope, not this time. The extreme under-funding of education in the U.S., which, I have recently learned, is most likely going to result in me losing my position as a middle school counselor at the end of this year? Not today. That's a blog for another time. And, blog I will...Could it be people who continue to yak on their cellphones while driving, selfishly oblivious to the chaos they are leaving in their wake, as the rest of us attempt to safely navigate the roads while they are cutting us off, swerving into our lanes, or simply sitting at a green light, talking, instead of moving? Uh uh.

Today, I'm taking on smokers. In particular, the man in the car in front of me on my way home from work. The man who apparently thought it was perfectly appropriate to flick his ashes and cigarette butts right out the window of his car as he drove along. No worries. No thoughts about the people around him. No guilt over littering. Unconcerned that his cigarette butts were hitting the window of the car behind him. My window. Just going along his merry way...That man, and other smokers like him. The ones who just don't seem to care about anyone but themselves.

Here's the thing: I'm all for personal freedom. (Except when it comes to guns. Sorry, folks, I stand firmly against that one. Bring it on...I can take it!) If you want to inhale deadly, addictive toxins into your lungs, accepting the life-threatening effects on your health, not to mention disgusting breath, stinking hair, and yellow all means, go ahead! But, do it in your own space. Don't breathe your secondhand smoke into my family's oxygen supply. We're not choosing lung cancer. Why should it be OK for you to put us in jeopardy, just because you're choosing that for yourself? And, while we're on the subject of secondhand smoke, don't smoke in your car, when you have kids in that car. Geez, people! This is the computer age. Just Google "secondhand smoke", and you can read all about the effects your secondhand smoke is having on your children. Let's not sugar coat it. You could be killing them. Your own kids. Of course, you won't be around to see it, because you will have died of lung cancer or emphysema or some other horrible smoking-related affliction long before you see the health effects your smoking has had on your own children. And, what is it with smokers, like the man in the car in front of me today, who just throw their ashes and butts right on the ground, as if it isn't littering? Is there some sort of psychological block that happens in their brains? They have no issue polluting their bodies, so they don't mind polluting the planet or the people around them either? Is that what's going on?

I just don't get it. I'm a counselor. I do understand addiction and unhealthy coping mechanisms and all that... And, I know how incredibly difficult it can be to quit something that has such a strong psychological and physiological hold on you. But, I'm not talking about addiction, here. I'm talking about selfishness and discourtesy and flat-out laziness. Because, addicted or not, I know people who are "polite smokers". They smoke in private, in places where they aren't putting others at risk. They have a room in their house that is their "smoking room", and they forbid their children to enter it. They put their ashes and butts into ashtrays (and then into the garbage), instead of throwing them on the ground or out the window of their car. Imagine that! They actually respect the rights of the people around them to breathe air that isn't polluted with smoke and to walk down the street without having to step over cigarette butts.

So, please, smokers everywhere. Take a look around you. Look at the moms, who have to tell their little kids to hold their breath as they walk by, so they won't breathe your poisonous fumes into their little lungs. Look at all the cigarette butts scattered on the sidewalk, in the street, in the parks where families play. They're everywhere! Look at the people who walk away coughing after being near you for a moment or two. What if one of them has asthma or an immune deficiency? Your cigarette smoke could literally be shortening their lives. Are you really as selfish as you seem? Do you really care so little for the people around you and the planet we live on, that you just don't give a damn? Do you honestly not care that you might be killing someone? Do you seriously believe that your right to inhale and exhale carcinogenic substances trumps everyone else's right to breathe clean air and to live full, healthy lives, unaffected by your toxic smoke? If you do, I feel sorry for you. It must be lonely to be that selfish and self-centered. And, I feel sorry for the rest of us, because we are your victims.

1 comment:

  1. Brava!

    I know I should add more, but really, you've said it so well there's nothing else to say!