18 November 2005

You are what you throw.

Once upon a time, smokers always used a receptacle to dispose of their cigarette butts. It was called an ashtray.

But smokers seem to have forgotten its basic function. These days, our roadsides, the grass and sidewalks around our buildings are increasingly becoming wastelands of spent coffin nails. People throw cigarettes out of their car in a careless disregard for those around them.

Worse, many throw them STILL LIT. And on the way home Friday afternoon, a lit butt exploded on the road in front of us, thrown out by a minivan-driving soccer mom who had the ciggy in one hand and a cellphone in another (she'd passed us, so I knew this to be true). She must've been one of those Tiger Ridge inbreds I keep hearing about, who live, work, and copulate among theirselves in upper Effingham County. I mean, only a child of incest would have a third arm, with which to keep on the wheel ... right?

This isn't the first time it's happened, and I'm sure it won't be the last. I know cars no longer have ashtrays by default, even though most automakers offer 'em as options. Even if not, you can buy ashtrays with weighted bottoms, designed for car use. My grandmother, who smoked for years before wisely giving it up, had one. My Mom, who has singly kept Salem Menthols swimming in dinero since the early '60s, makes provisions when driving. Mom uses .... what's it called agai-- oh yes, an ASHTRAY.

But most smokers aren't my mother. Why do increasing numbers of nicotine-junkies act as if our (!) great outdoors is their own giant personal dispos-all?

I have a couple of theories:

1) They're acting out, in childish rebellion, against what they perceive as those who have "marginalized" them, forcing them out of their offices, and making them sit in special sections of restaurants. They feel as if their right to smoke trumps the rights of those who wish to breathe (reasonably) clean air. "They don't let me blow smoke in their face anymore, so I'll show them. I'll litter their little paradise with my butts."

2) Smokers in general have become like most teenagers and 20-somethings: egocentric, lacking in manners, and hostile toward anything and anyone who tells them "no." They care not one bit about the people around them.

I wonder about the homes of these cigarette smokers. I'll bet they don't even have an ashtray in their entire house. Their floors are probably littered with butts. It's a damn wonder more homes haven't gone up in flames.

If you're a smoker, you don't need me to say you should really consider kicking that bad (and expensive) habit.

And if you're a smoker who throws your ciggy 'roaches' out the window, I hope you realize that you're only punishing yourself in the long run. One of these days you're gonna throw out a lit butt into the road in front of a car which:

A) has a gasoline leak .... can you say "that car blowed up REAL GOOD!" (apologies to Big Jim McBob)

B) startles the driver, leading to adverse action, possibly causing a bad accident.

C) is an unmarked police car. Maybe the police are 'looking the other way' (it wouldn't surprise me), but throwing out a butt counts as littering. And in Georgia that packs a nice $1000 punch. C'mon, cops, that's more money toward your quota than piddling $25 seat belt tickets.

D) is driven by a politician or other influential gumment official who carries real weight. Can you say "introduces a bill to prohibit driving while smoking"? It's not that far-fetched, ya know ...

Or, even better:

E) is driven by a 450-pound redneck in a really bad mood. Can you say "ROAD RAGE"?

I don't wish for exploding cars or chain-reaction collisions. But I wouldn't mind a good case of road rage; let that redneck follow that driver to their next stop, and make them drop a load in their pants. If not violence, maybe a good scare.

You're not helping your cause, either. And what's more, you might force people like us to reverse our own libertarian attitudes (your right to smoke ends at my nose), and start pushing for a complete ban of all public cigarette smoking.

In closing, it's really simple: you are what you throw.

Ciao for niao

--Talmadge "Proudly smoke-free since 1965" Gleck

No comments: