The Smoker's Code
There definitely is a smoker's code that is unwritten but universally understood by cigarette smokers of varying degrees. It is, however, only somewhat understood as peoples' definition of what is appropriate varies greatly. To be more specific, I'm talking about the style and frequency of people asking me to give them cigarettes. This happens daily at least and more than ten times a day depending on what area of town I'm in. Sometimes they offer to pay me, sometimes they demand, sometimes they outright plea, all giving me a look that says we are in the same club: The Smoker's Club. I suppose because we are in the same club I should support it by supplying needy members as some sort of dues. Maybe I was elected Treasurer and instead of managing funds I'm actually managing the distribution of cigarettes. Could someone please remove my name from the ballot and from the club all together? I don't want ya bastards!
I've racked my brain trying to come up with a convincing argument that no one should ever ask me for cigarettes but besides the fact that it can be rude I'm coming up short. Cigarettes are luxury items. They are expensive and they (despite what many smokers will tell you) are not necessary to function. It's not like food and water which actually help you to live. Cigarettes will inevitably lead to your demise. The fact that I always have a pack of cigarettes on me implies that I am person who has disposable income. This makes me a target for bums, drunk people and fellow smokers expecting a little sympathy. So because I am a person with disposable income enough to support my foul smoking habit and am an elected officer in the Smoker's Club, I am obligated to dish out cigarettes to anyone who asks.
I am not a wealthy person at all. I also am well known for frugality. I have a very set allowance per month for cigarettes because I am addicted. If I go over the allowance, it will impact my budget. I cannot afford to be as charitable as people want me to be. You're right. I can't even afford to smoke myself. I already said it wasn't a necessity and it isn't. But I like it. It is one of the few things that gives me some pleasure and I have constructed a very balanced bugdet to support Lee's- and only Lee's- smoking habit.
There is also the point that one should give as good as they expect to get. I have never gone up to a stranger and asked them for a smoke. Because I am a dedicated smoker, I very nearly always have cigarettes on me. On the rare occasion when I've run out and am stuck some place where I can't buy more, I will not ask someone for a cigarette even if it's convenient. I don't for two reasons. (1) I don't like rejection and (2) I hate when people ask me and don't feel like being a hypocrite.
There are several methods of bumming cigarettes. I tend to get a lot of cute, young guys very sheepishly ask me. They think their good looks and boyish charm will make me swoon in the form of offering them cigarettes. There's the drunk people who stagger up to me and try chatting me up a bit before they ask, thinking I will appreciate the conversation and not just having them hit me up off the bat. They don't realize how fucking transparent they are going up to the only smoking person standing alone. There are the people who use intimidation to get cigarettes. They are most often men who approach you in questionable areas: dark, empty streets late at night, bus stops, etc. Their goal is to make you so uncomfortable that you fork over the cigarette immediately. Finally, there are the oh so brilliant ones who offer some amount of change or if they're really confident, a dollar to buy a smoke off of me. These people are saying, "Hey, I'm no bum. I don't take handouts. I'm willing to pay for this cigarette." I'm supposed to think, "Wow, he/she's more honorable than those other beggars" and give them the cigarette. They expect this because when you do decide to take the money, they look miffed.
I can't discourage bumming cigarettes. I can only pray that I can go a day without it happening and offer some tips to all you freeloaders. Here are the top no-no's when trying to ask for cigarettes:
1. If I am carying bags, don't even think about asking. You really expect me to drop what I'm doing to fish a cigarette out of my pocket.
2. If I am in a rush. I'm talking hauling ass somewhere... Don't try to get my attention unless I am on fire or I'm dropping stuff or a gigantic gray alien is following me. It will only really piss me off if you delay me with your annoying request.
3. Don't try to trick me. Friendly enough guys have talked me into reluctantly giving them one and then a meek girl will pop out from behind a column or tree and he will ask me to give his girlfriend one as well. You ask me not for one but two of my pricey little cancer sticks and try to guilt and trick me? You fool me, you can't get fooled again!
4. Don't yell at me as I'm walking past. I may be hard of hearing but I'm jumpy and easily scared. It will put me in a temporary catatonic state and I won't be able to give you anything.
Lastly, if I can't stop you sponges (which I'm sure the only way is to quit)...
5. Be polite. Barking orders works well for dominatrixes and drill sergeants but I do not like being dictated to.
And one more thing: Kids don't ask me for cigarettes because I won't give them to you purely based on your age. Go pilfer in your grandma's purse for them like I did.