September 27, 2006

Phillip? Morris? You Owe Me New Towels.

It occurred to me last night, in the middle of my cob of corn and soydog-in-a-blanket, that I love my apartment. I don’t often find much to praise, but I have to say that my current living situation really rocks out; a roommate who doesn’t bug the shit out of me, quiet neighbors (for the most part), and ten-minute bus ride to work. I shouldn’t have anything to complain about. And I didn’t, before the smokers moved in next door.

I don’t have a problem with people smoking, in general. Which is to say, in abstract, when I think there are people in the world who smoke, it doesn’t bother me. When they live five feet away, and smoke constantly, to the point where if I move an inch toward the western wall of my apartment I need my inhaler, and if I happen to need a Glad bag it’s going to have to wait until tomorrow morning because the smell of smoke has permeated the inside of my cabinets, and my hallway is littered with stubs because these people are apparently new to a state where it annually goes below zero and the recent cold front of 45 degrees is only a hint of what’s to come so get your damn jacket and smoke in the open air, dumbass—then it bothers me. So you can imagine how annoyed I was when Rod Serling and Dean Martin decided to share the apartement next to mine, wafting their habit into my hallway, on opposite shifts for maximum air toxicity. Never mind that it stinks. Never mind the inability to get a Q-tip until you’re sure the Nic Twins have left the building. Imagine standing on a kitchen chair at 2:17 am because they have, once again, set off your smoke alarm. This is where I’m coming from.

I’ve never had to deal with cigarette smoke inside a building before; I was fairly young when the “no smoking in public areas” rules were handed down. I’m not sure if “don’t smoke anywhere that babies and old people, or really, any other people are” made sense to me because I had asthma, or because I didn’t personally smoke, but I thought the engineer who decided that a wall is not an effective barrier against an airborne carcinogen was pretty spot-on. Especially ineffective is the half-inch of drywall used to separate five different individual living spaces, all of which sharing the same of air filtration system dating back to the Nixon Administration. For some reason, my landlord has yet to see the light on this discovery, and has allowed smokers and non- to cohabitate, which is one of those situations that sounds awesome in theory but fails abysmally in actual practice (see: communism). I’m not asking that the entire building be nonsmoking—which, I don’t see why it couldn’t be, but if somehow that’s too much to ask—but couldn’t just the lower level be nonsmoking? On the theory that the smoke rises? On the further assumption that the upper levels have balconies that smokers can utilize for easier cold-weather avoidance? Or if they chose to leave the windows closed and smoke the place up ‘til their eyeballs bulge and they asphyxiate in their own filmy, yellowed Death Sauna… nobody on the bottom floor need be bothered? Or is that mean?

Before any smokers start to see me as unsympathetic, let me explain the difference between ‘addiction’ and ‘inconsideration’. I have an addiction. I’m a caffeine addict. Now, I’m sorry my addiction is more socially acceptable than yours, but it might have something to do with the fact that my drinking coffee will never give you cancer. Also, my insurance doesn’t go up because I drink coffee, as an unattended latte has never once cause the wholesale incineration of an apartment complex; neither does it posses the ability to cover every textile and surface in your home (and in my bathroom closet) with increasing layers of its stench, so that Stanley Steemer banks triple overtime if you ever decide to move out. So yes, I confess it’s a litte unfair. However, neither addiction is illegal, so I have the right to walk into a Starbucks and get my fix without judgment, just as you have the right to walk into a corner shop for yours. What we don’t get is the right to force everyone into our addiction with us. I don’t have the right to pour shots of espresso down every person in my general vicinity whether they want them or not, and you don’t have the right to inflict your cigarette smoke on anyone else. I understand it’s hard to keep smoke to yourself, as it is more inclined to surround and envelop anywhere / one it pleases. That’s why you go outside. Out. Side. Yeah, this is Michigan, and we’re headed into the -BER months, but I doubt the Ethiopian babies are going to weep for you because you need to put your coat on to consume your first-world indulgence of choice. Suck. It. Up.

I understand that addiction is an uncontrollable urge, thereby making you a victim, a slave to the nicotine. It’s a way of life and nonsmokers don’t get it. Here’s a hypothetical: If a coke addict breaks into your house for drug money, do you really care about his addiction? No, you care that he’s taking your stuff. Similarly, I don’t care that you have a need to smoke—I care that you do it where I’m trying to breathe, leave the stubs on my doormat, stink up my cabinets and leave me the unenviable choice between burnt carpet smell or an overenthusiastic, headache-inducing Glade Plug-In—and then get all pissy when I tell you to take your ass outside. I’ll tell you something; I have never bough a latte, gone in someone else’s house to drink it, spilled it on their carpet then thrown the cup on the floor, and returned their protests with a “it’s cold outside! I have an addiction!” The addiction isn’t the problem; the problem is you’re an asshole, and you’re using the fact that you have an addiction to excuse your behavior. You don’t want to go outside to smoke? Tough titties. If you want to eat, you cook. Or you starve. I hate cooking, but starving’s not an option. Put your damn coat on. And long as your fingers haven’t gone necrotic you can pick your butts off my welcome mat on your way out.

1 comment:

Team-C4 said...

You are so exacty right. Call your landlord. And your congressman.