Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bum a Smoke

"Bum a smoke?" asked the guy on the street yesterday.

I don't smoke, never have. But I wish I did. I would have said "Nope." then pulled out a full pack and casually lit up.

The "bum a smoke" system works, in theory. Smokers helping out other smokers in need. Sounds good. But don't you think if you could cosmically total up all the ledgers of smoke bummers and bummees, you'd find that there's a whole class of smokers just ruthlessly exploiting the "bum a smoke" courtesy?

And this is just my observation as a non smoker. Do you really think that broke ass kid from the street yesterday with his shaved head and too-low jeans is giving away cigarettes with the same enthusiasm that he's bumming them? I've known plenty of cheap bastards, possibly including myself, and I know a scam when I see one.

Here's my position. If I was a smoker, I'd constantly stock myself with an abundance of packs. This way I'd never need to bum a smoke. And I'd have a strict no charity policy. Well maybe if it was a poor orphan boy who just wanted one cigarette to stay warm, I'd make an exception, but that's it. Maybe I'd sell individual cigarettes to other smokers at a profit-maximizing markup, but no bumming from my stash. The way I see it (and I address this to the bummers) you know you are addicted to cigarettes. You know, approximately, how many you'll need per day. You can plan ahead. You can save money buying cartons, or even cases of cartons, rather than packs. You can, if you want, order name-brand cigarettes for huge discounts from overseas, via the internet. You could stock up for 6 months at a time, even a year. Think, just for a moment, how many dollars you'd save per year doing this.

Smokers have told me they shy from this for two reasons. One, on some weird psychological level, every smoker would like to pretend that this new pack is going to be the last pack. Therefore, to buy in bulk in advance destroys that fantasy. Two, smokers deliberately don't carry a lot of cigarettes around at any one time, using the constant shortage of cigarettes as a simple way to limit their smoking.

Both of those reasons I don't accept. I embrace my addictions. Coffee. Gambling. Junk food. I don't apologize. I don't pretend. I don't walk into a card room saying okay, this will be the last time.

But the guys who bum smokes all the time aren't necessarily caught in a vise of psychological turmoil and denial, they're just cheap bastards who've realized they can endlessly abuse this courtesy and get away scot free. I think it's pathetic. Just look at this verb: bum. To bum. It's an acknowledgement that the person in question is literally begging for a cigarette. That they are a bum. Can I have a cigarette? I am a worthless bum.

I say respect yourself, and own up to your addiction. When was the last time you ever ran out of, say, toilet paper? You don't run out of toilet paper, because you NEED toilet paper. When the supply gets low, you buy more. How often do you run out of gas? Never. The same should apply with cigarettes.

Now I'm tempted to start smoking just so I can carry around extra packs and not give them to people. Thank God I never started. What a truly stupid decision it is, to put that first cigarette in your mouth. But that's another rant.

No comments: