Involuntary Secondhand Smoke

Smoking is an addicting lifestyle choice. I get it. I have friends who smoke and though it’s not my cup of tea, they’re pretty respectful about it (i.e. won’t blow smoke in my face, open the car windows if they do decide to smoke whilst driving, etc).

I’ve never smoked cigarettes. What can I say? I guess the D.A.R.E. assemblies got to me. And probably because of that, it never seemed worth it.

There’s also the story my dad’s told me a hundred times (that I never get tired of hearing): He and my mom were dating for a while and when he popped the question, she said she would only marry him if he quit smoking. He called over the waiter (they were out to dinner at the time), crumbled up his carton of cigs, and asked him to take them away. She said yes, they married, and I am here in this moment typing to you. The epilogue to that story is when he would get cravings, especially at work, he would leave his office and go for a run. And he would hack and hack, unable to breathe, the wind completely taken from his lungs. His cravings stopped then, when he came face-to-face with what the cigarettes were doing to his body.

He’s hasn’t smoked since.

Every day I try to go for a walk. My schedule doesn’t always allow it; Sometimes it rains, I wake up late, forget, get preoccupied, but I do try. I had a busy morning today, so after dinner I made a shotgun decision to go to the track (which I’m a short walk away from) and just do it (Nike style).

I try to go for about 45 minutes, break a sweat, breathe in some fresh air, take in the sky. The track’s the only place I can really dream and visualize the Cosmos – Earth as a big blue marble spinning and rotating around the Sun and all that. It all makes sense to me there.

So anyway, I’m on my second to last lap when I notice two people (a man and woman who appeared to be younger than me) blowing out smoke while walking around the track. And when I get closer, lo and behold they actually are smoking cigarettes while walking around the track. Really careless about it, disrespectful, making fun of a man in front of them who’s lifting his arms while walking. Also, the track is packed with people, especially elderly people trying to get in some physical fitness to maybe extend their lifespan. There’s also larger people there, trying to be active to maybe decrease that chance of heart attack or stroke. And here are these careless individuals holding hands, smoking cigarettes, and making fun of the nightly regulars while they exercise. It made me really upset.

I hustled past them. I thought about saying something but didn’t. What would I say? What would change? If it became a repeat occurrence, I think I could see myself calling them out…I don’t know. It’s just not right. Go smoke near the swing set, the bleachers, but not the track. People are trying to be healthy there. They could have literally walked anywhere else.

Humans are despicable sometimes. Don’t make us suffer with you. I wanna breathe in the fresh night air, not your pitiful secondhand smoke. Keep it in the car next time.