To access my office building, I got up several flights of exterior stairs. At the top of the stairs, there is a courtyard type area with picnic tables, and a large building overhang, to protect the doors from the elements. This seems to be an area where the people who smoke in my building like to congregate. Regardless of the signs and the many email that circulate each year, these smokers continue to stand under the building overhand while they enjoy their cigarettes. While I generally don’t dislike people who smoke on a whole, I tend to get very frustrated by this very belligerent bunch. I feel bad for them that they must go outside to smoke, and that there is no way to provide a sheltered area within the building (with it’s own HVAC system) accommodate these people, but it continues to make me cranky when I have to walk through the stench and the smoke of their bad habit every morning on my way to work.
I feel like they aren’t being very thoughtful of people who don’t smoke. While you could argue that non-smokers are very intolerant of people who do smoke, there is sound evidence showing that even second hand smoke harms people. I am quite allergic to smoke, and like many things only one or two sniffs of the offending substance can cause a full blown allergic reaction. While I’m not going to stop breathing or anything like that, sinus headaches and congestion is no fun to deal with either.
I guess my major issue is that I chose to not smoke. I chose to keep my lungs clear of things that cause allergic reactions and harm to my body (and baby), because I went the best quality of life that I can provide for myself and for my kids. It offends my nose and my sensibilities that I have to walk through someone else’s choice of bad health every day. Why can’t they stand out in the open air, where the wind can come through and blow the smoke away? I understand that it’s colder, but isn’t that kind of a consequence for their actions and choices?
Speaking of that, my youth group is doing a series on being intolerant, because some stuff is just stupid**. I guess this kind of falls in to that category, along with accepting bad behaviour from your friends, family and peers. It’s been pretty interesting so far, and I hope that the kids and I can find something to take away.
** side note: I’m not teaching them to be dumb. I’m not teaching them to be bigots, but to stand up for themselves. If their friends constantly say “God damn” and it offends them, then it’s completely ok to ask them to not say that in their presence, or that if their friends are going to go get high, it’s ok to tell them that you think that they shouldn’t. I’m teaching them, above all, to be respectful and kind, but to not be a door mat.