Some months ago, Mark Evanier wrote about the bad old days, when smoking allowed on most airplanes. He linked to a New York Times article, What Flying Was Like Before the Smoke Cleared, which was terrible, especially for the flight attendants.
I wrote in this blog some years ago: “Airplanes used to have smoking and non-smoking sections. I remember sitting in row 22, the last non-smoking row. Wouldn’t you know that the smoke did not have the courtesy to go back from row 23, but instead wafted forward?”
Still, here’s a story about a smoker I did feel just a little sorry for:
It was in the early 1990s. My then-Significant Other and I took the bus from Albany to New York City for the day. The 7:30 departure back to Albany, then on to Montreal, was so busy that the bus company needed a second bus, which we got on.
About 20 miles north of New York City, the bus driver, while continuing to operate the vehicle, yelled back to the passengers, “Is someone in the bathroom?” The SO and I were sitting three rows from the back, and I hollered back, “Yes.”
“Is someone SMOKING in the bathroom?” My ultra-sensitive nose knew that someone had lit up somewhere near me. I didn’t want to rat out anybody, yet he was clearly seeking confirmation of what he already expected. “Yes,” I replied.
The bus driver pulled over on the side of the New York State Thruway, and walked towards the back. By this point, the woman in the loo had come out and returned to her seat.
He walked up to her and said, “There’s no smoking on this bus!” She said nothing.
“Do you want me to let you out here?” She replied, in a distinct French Canadian accent, “Oh, no, no!”
We get to Albany without further incident. But then everyone was supposed to get off our bus, with those traveling north of Albany getting on that first bus that left NYC.
The smoker did not understand; she thought she was finally being booted off for her transgression from a couple hours earlier. No, they just needed one busload to go from Albany to Montreal. I’m not sure HOW she finally figured out to get on the other bus.
THAT smoker I ALMOST felt sorry for.
The Great American Smokeout is today. Tobacco undoubtedly contributed to the deaths this year alone of our friend Bonnie, actor Leonard Nimoy, and many others. Chewing tobacco killed baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn last year. The sooner one quits, the better.