08 June 2007

Smoked Out

I was waiting for the Orange Line at Downtown Crossing this afternoon. I walked to the northernmost end of the northbound platform, because when I get off the train at Wellington, the escalators are at that end of the platform, and it's just easier to already be at that end of the train. Yes, I know this is a compulsive personality thing, but when you have to run for a bus that comes only every 20 minutes, the 60 seconds you save walking from the back end of the train can make a difference between getting the bus and getting stuck waiting for the next one.

Anyway, I got to the far end of the platform, and there were a few other people waiting at that end. A minute later a youngish guy came along, went all the way to the wall, and lit a cigarette. This is something I cannot tolerate, not only for the health implications of secondhand smoke, but also because it's just such an incredibly rude and selfish thing to do when you're stuck in a confined space underground. I really don't care how bad your pathetic nicotine addiction is, don't put it in my face when I can't escape it. So while everyone stands around looking annoyed or pretending they don't notice, I'm the person who goes up to the smoker and asks them to put it out. I always do it politely, and the person almost always complies.

This guy looked at me, looked at his cigarette, and looked back at me and said, in utter seriousness, "What, there's not enough wind down here for you?" It's like he was thinking yeah, I know I'm doing something disgusting and obnoxious, but instead of admitting that you called me on it, I'm going to be as much of an asshole about it as possible.
In addition to people who have the nerve to smoke in T stations, I don't deal too well with defiance either, especially when it's coming from someone who is in the wrong and obviously knows it.

I probably should have taken a moment to compose my thoughts, to come up with some really good comeback, but I managed only, "The air down here is bad enough without your carcinogens adding to it." I know, what an idiot, right? I actually used the word "carcinogens." I'd blown it. He looked at me like I was from space, then I just gave up and moved away. It took another two or three minutes for the train to come, and somewhere during that time he either finished the cigarette or got rid of it, because when we got on the train he didn't have it. It's a good thing; I probably would have leaped on him and yanked it out of his hand at that point.

When I got off the train, I was sort of looking over my shoulder, because the smoking guy got off at the same stop. I worried that he would end up on my bus and would know which stop I got off at, but that's just a little paranoia resulting from having a minor confrontation with someone over their behavior. I thought to myself, I shouldn't even be in this kind of situation, but when someone behaves this way, I just can't help myself. Because if no one says anything, then the offender believes that it's somehow okay. And it's not. When I witness someone crossing the line of socially acceptable behavior, I can't ignore it. It's probably going to get me in trouble some day.

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