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Thank You For Smoking


As of January 1st of this new year of our Lord, the great state of Illinois (great because, well, I live here) has passed a ban on smoking in public places and a strict policy of smokers having to inhale 15 feet away from doors.

Neither of these things do I feel one way or another about, truth be told. I was a smoker for many years, so I feel sorry for all of the people who are hip enough to head out to bars (unlike myself, who is now so tragically unhip that I spend my Friday nights in track pants wondering why all of the good programming is hiding far, far away from my TV set) and now have to go and hide to smoke.

What DOES bug me about this is that each door leading in to a public place now has a number that you can call someone from the state presumably and complain if they see someone not abiding by the 15 feet rule.

As a former smoker, I got really sick and tired of people who would make outrageously obscene commentary if I snuck outside for a quickie. The point of smoking outside is precisely to avoid sticking someone else in an enclosed room, so I had been trying to do everyone a FAVOR by not subjecting them to it.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, secondhand smoke smells bad. It does, I’m not denying that.

But to be fair, so does liberally dousing yourself in Adidas cologne or deciding that showers are overrated and deodorant is for pussies. Sure, maybe these personal hygiene choices don’t cause cancer, but I’m pretty sure that the 0.4 seconds you were near my lit cigarette would not make much of a difference either way.

Besides, you can’t tell me having to sit inside a bathroom stall in which someone has just blown liberal ass all over the place, isn’t at least mildly carcinogenic (and infinitely more disgusting).

(Obviously, if someone is an ashmatic or allergic, well, that makes sense.)

But even now, two kids later, I would never be rude enough to flail my arms wildly and make a huge production about how “smoking sucks” in front of someone who was sneaking a puff. Really, come on, we all know it’s not the most healthful thing to be doing, but neither is behaving like a rudely retarded child in public, because sooner or later, you’re going to get your ass kicked.

I can only see Bad Things happening with the new complaint line, and I’m sorry as hell for anyone staffing that call center. Truth be told, I feel sorry for anyone staffing ANY call center ANYWHERE. “Complaint Lines” I can only imagine bring out the few and the proud (freaks), who can call and complain about anything (only in fine print does it tell you what you’re complaining about when you call that number, to be fair to the freaks who program such numbers into their phones) such as their muscle aches, the price and quality of generic brand toilet paper, and their neighbors cat WHO MAY BE SPYING ON THEIR HOUSE AS WE SPEAK.

Besides, even if you do call and complain that someone is smoking too close to the doors, what the hell are these people in this remote call center going to freaking do about it? By the time any ball could get rolling, the Bad Person Smoker would be long gone, just as I would be.

Even I’m not dumb enough to stick around to see what the punishment/fine is for this. I mean, shit, I have even been known to drive off while a Chicago cop was in the process of writing me a ticket, because, what the hell was he going to do? My car goes faster than his legs. Oh, SNAP!

(Dave, upon learning that I had done this, was suitably impressed and horrified by my behavior. Apparently, even after all these years, I can still shock, disgust, and amaze him).

So tell your Aunt Becky, providing that you are not burning effigies of her in your yard for defending Bad People Smokers, what is the strangest complaint that you have ever heard (even if it’s not happened to you) about anything at all?

I’ll go first. Your goal is to outdo me. It should be simple.

I worked for several summers at at outdoor bar/grill that happened to be situated right along a river. It was beautiful vista, complete with ducks a-swimming, bikers a-biking (it was right along the bike trail, too), and (gross) carp a-carping, but it was also situated squarely in an Old Money WASP’s nest, so our customers were often both snobby and cross. As only a mess of servers can, we bonded together in an us-vs-them way.

One day, as I was just coming onto my afternoon/evening shift, and in the process of putting out the Citronella candles, I was motioned over by a group of women. I sat the candle down between them, and one of them looked at me squarely in the face and demanded “Can’t you do something about these BUGS.”

It wasn’t a question.

And what she apparently had not noticed is that we were outside.

Being a smartass, and knowing that this was not my tip on the line, I met her gaze and fired back, “Yeah, you know what you can do? GO INSIDE.” Then I walked away.

Your turn.

14 Comments to

“Thank You For Smoking”

  1. On January 20th, 2008 at 6:42 pm Stefanie Says:

    Having waited tables for many many years in my life, people are assholes. Nuff said.

  2. On January 20th, 2008 at 8:08 pm Angela Says:

    I work in the QA lab at a chemical plant, and you would be shocked by how often someone from production will come in and complain to me about my testing results. I mean, what do you want me to do? You made the stupid stuff, it’s not my fault that it’s all wrong.

    My SO once yelled–I mean, YELLED–at me for breathing heavily into my cell phone as I was walking up the stairs. Yeah, you guessed right, it had nothing to do with me or my breathing; he had just had a really bad day 😛

  3. On January 20th, 2008 at 8:07 pm Valerie Says:

    I think this is my first time commenting here, but I’m not thinking straight this week, so… 🙂

    My personal feeling on the issue is that bars and restaurants are not public places. The owner of such an establishment has the right to refuse me service. I have the choice to patronize (or not) such an establishment. A public place is somewhere funded by tax dollars: a library, a school, a courthouse. Big difference.

    I’m in Ohio and they passed a similar ban last year. I’m a former smoker who now still lights up when I drink. What amuses me about the ban is that everywhere I go, the people out on the patio (many bars have converted their outdoor patios to heated, sheltered ones for the winter) smoking vastly outnumber those inside the actual bar. What the proponents of these laws fail to realize is that the people most vehemently in favor of a ban in bars weren’t going to the bars in the first place. We heard constantly, “Non-smokers will be going out in droves.” We’re still waiting.

    In the meantime, a lot of the little neighborhood bars are either closing shop due to lack of business or ignoring the ban completely. I guess they figure they have nothing to lose.

  4. On January 20th, 2008 at 8:08 pm Valerie Says:

    Oops. Sorry, I just realized that I didn’t actually do what you asked. 🙂 Give me some time… I’ll try to come up with something.

  5. On January 20th, 2008 at 9:53 pm Juli Says:

    Most of the complaints I get nowadays are from my kid (which means I am free to ignore them.) (And I do.) But as a recent ex-smoker, I will tell you about the time I was hiding behind a tree in an outside venue, quietly having a cigarette out of the way, so as not to bother/offend others. A lady followed me, for the sole purpose of harassing me. After firing off several “second hand smoke” and “you’ll get cancer” bon mots with no real success, she finally decided she’d try to appeal to my vanity, and said, “Well, fine. But when you turn thirty and your skin looks like you’re sixty, you’ll be sorry.” I replied calmly, “I appreciate your concern. But since I turned 40 eight months ago, I think you need to find a better argument.”

  6. On January 20th, 2008 at 10:02 pm Liz Says:

    My favorite was when they managed to pass the smoking ban in Kentucky..the Tobacco state!! impressive

    Here’s my story: My two roommates and I had 4 dogs between us. Big dogs, friendly dogs, but really good dogs. Our neighbor HATED dogs. Her husband told us so the day we moved in. “Good luck” he told us. For the next two years she did everything she could to try to get us to move out. Complained that our grass wasn’t cut low enough, or often enough (she sent the city out TWICE after us, both times they rolled their eyes at her), left notes on our trashcans saying they were too close to the street (as opposed to say, inside the house, where we could invite the garbage man inside for cocco and cookies while he collected our trash). The kicker was when she called our landlord at 3AM to complain about “all that racket those damn dogs are making, keeping me up! I’m a sick old woman who needs her sleep!” (she was 40 and nothing was wrong with her) So our landlord called us to tell us to bring the dogs inside. We told him that not only were we all inside, but we, including all the dogs, were all in a different state for a wedding. No joke.

  7. On January 20th, 2008 at 10:58 pm Heather Says:

    Why would you go and have a baby? I guess you won’t be seeing *me* anymore. Our neighbor’s daughter (who E and I were both friends with) said this to us at a dinner party when she found out I was pregnant, and she’s a woman of her word. She never spoke to either of us again. How’s that for a complaint?! Damn those procreaters! She was apparently hatched from an egg.

  8. On January 21st, 2008 at 9:34 am Pauline Says:

    My favorite complaint (from a patient who brought a gun to the clinic to show another patient): Let me preface by saying that I have seen this this man walk in and out of the clinic, read his weight from the scale, watch t.v., and read newspapers. His reply on being questioned about the gun since the clinic has clearly posted signs about no firearms: “But I’m legally blind. I can’t read that sign,” which, by the way is about three times larger than the digital weight on the scale.

  9. On January 21st, 2008 at 9:36 am Emily Says:

    Sorry, girl. I am in the “Bad People Smokers” camp. I am so afraid someone will overhear Zach, who has been told many times that smoking makes people sick, as he loudly asks “Is that lady going to get sick?”

    Our neighbors and closest friends here have a little boy he plays with all the time. I cannot stand the smell we all come back with. They would never smoke around us, but the whole house has that stale smell. It is to the point that I think in the future if we had friends who smoke (after we move), I am going to have to avoid their houses.

    And, smoking in front of buildings? Don’t even get me started. I HAVE to walk in that door people. Do you think you could consider smoking four feet to the left? Given my genetics, I am just antsy about smoke.

    After all, I make sure no one is around before I fart and I never do it in an elevator.

    Worst complaint? Hmmm. Perhaps my sister complaining about, well, everything.

  10. On January 21st, 2008 at 11:17 am Calliope Says:

    brilliant. I mean seriously- do you even feel how brilliant you are?

    For some random reason I get mistaken as a person that somebody knows. Meaning I am just walking around minding my own business and people will flag me down yelling, “Mary!!” or “Helen!!” or worse they think I am employed at whatever store we happen to be in. People come up to me ALL the effing time to ask where things are in Target. It’s not like I am walking around in a red shirt with a name badge, gripping a walkie talkie. I guess I just look in charge (heh).

    But the crap thing is that when I correct these people ala, “sorry. I am not Helen.” or “sorry. I don’t work here.” People are PISSED OFF at me. Like I am making it up.


  11. On January 21st, 2008 at 12:12 pm Amy Says:

    When I was in high school and college I worked at our local supermarket. I worked at the customer service desk answering phones, taking complaints and also doing returns, selling lottery tickets, etc. You can only imagine the number of rediculous complaints I heard working at that desk. However I’d say one of my absolute favorites was this:

    A woman walks up to the desk, I say hello and then she looks me straight in the eye and rings the bell that says “ring bell for service” which is obviously there for cases in which I am not at the desk. “Can I help you ma’am?” I ask politely “I hope so, I have a complaint about your baking aisle”. “Ok, what can I do to help?”. “Well,” she says “I am baking a cake and the recipe calls for 2 cups of sifted flour. All I have at home is regular flour, so I drove 15 minutes out to the store and YOU DON’T EVEN CARRY SIFTED FLOUR.” Trying to hold back my laughter I politely say to her “I’m sorry Ma’am but nobody carries sifted flour. You have to put regular flour through a sifter to get sifted flour”. Her face turned beet red and she simply said “oh”. I then offerred to show here where in the baking aisle she could find a flour sifter and she left happy. Some people never cease to amaze me….

  12. On January 22nd, 2008 at 11:21 am honeywine Says:

    Drives away from the cop…somebody’s wearing ’em on the outside! Here the dumbass cop would probably be waiting on you when you got home. They have a lot of time on their hands here.

    Sounds like IL has the big brother routine down. It’s amazing how gov’t thinks we’re all idiots. We didn’t ALL vote for Bush!

    Calliope- I get the same “you must work here” routine. WTF? It even happens in places where they’re all wearing matching uniforms.

    Heather- I LOVE IT! That’s so awesome. Who the hell are you hanging out with?

  13. On January 23rd, 2008 at 4:04 pm PiquantMolly Says:

    These are great. Pauline’s concerns me the most. If he is indeed legally blind, why is he carrying a gun?

  14. On January 25th, 2011 at 1:46 pm Kat Says:

    I used to work at Rite Aid and when one day, this old lady comes up to the register. She starts brandishing her circular in my face and starts to whine about a certain brand of paper towels that was on sale. There was no more left. Seeing as how the circular came out on Sunday and it was Thursday…makes sense there might not be anymore.

    Well, she was pissed. She yelled at me that we should have a stock of all sales items, all the time. “There must be some in the back!!!” She left, yelling about how she was going to call and complain about the store’s poor service. She didn’t let me say that there was another Rite Aid down the road that she could check…

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