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Archive for September 14th, 2010

Smoke coming out of my ears.

I work in a high-rise office building, the first five floors of which are a parking garage.  Because I am in the downtown area, parking is at a premium, and I am especially thankful for the fact that I always will have a space, somewhere, inside, waiting for me. 

On the fourth floor of the parking garage, management has thoughtfully converted a corner of the garage into a smoking lounge.  In this smoking lounge there are abandoned and broken down office chairs and an assortment of ashtrays.  It ain’t pretty but to my mind, it gets the job done. 

There is an ordinance on the books in my work city that smoking is not to take place within 25 feet of building entrances.  Management has posted this helpful fact on all the building entrances, including those in the parking garage. 

The question here is:  does anyone pay attention? 

The answer:  well, hell, no. 

Yesterday I was on my way to pick up Spawn after school and rode the elevator down to my second floor parking space.  When I got to the entrance for the second floor parking area, what do I see but a clutch of three women, standing around smoking.  And not only were they just standing there, nowhere near the smoking lounge, they were standing right next to my car

I know, right? 

I held my breath, fixed a polite but icy smile on my face, and pressed through their group so that I could load my laptop into the passenger side of my car.  They had at least a bare minimum of manners to mutter a “sorry” in my direction, and had I felt more brave or courageous I might have said something.  As it was, I went around to the driver’s side, got in, and left. 

My car smelled like smoke. 

I think there is a fine line between being assertive and being confrontational, and most of the time I do not know where that line is.  This is where emotion gets involved.  I’m fairly sure that had I said something to those three smoking women next to my car, it would have fallen more squarely on the confrontational side of the line, since it really did make me angry to see them there.  If I could have been assertive about it — and emotionally detached — I would have been able to say something without it being an invitation to fight. 

I find that most smokers are plenty rude.  They don’t realize, or they don’t care, that they smell.  I don’t want to smell smoke.  And I certainly don’t want to ride around in a car that smells of smoke.  And call me crazy, but I think that I am well within my rights to expect to not have to deal with smoke, particularly since there is an ordinance on the books that delineates smoking zones.

I mean, hell, they don’t even allow smoking in bars around here. 

Still, you never know what you’re going to run up against when you point out to someone that they’re in the wrong.  People don’t have a problem going all Jerry-Springer on you these days.  Women, especially, like to hold grudges.  Had I said something I may have found my car keyed.  I don’t know, I’m just making an assumption here.  But you just don’t know about people.  The thin veneer of civility that this society used to operate under is gone nowadays.  And it seems to have been replaced by a nice, thick, cushy layer of lawsuits. 

Bottom line is, I don’t want to fight.  I just want people to behave themselves. 

— Mox

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