It’s funny how you can be a totally rational and calm human being in one moment, and in the next have the anger and rage-fueled strength to tear a door off a car and throw it on a roof. Such a moment occurred today without the door tossing, but what was thrown got the whole thing started.
Before we get into it, let me be clear: I have no problems with what anyone does in this world, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else or affect anyone else negatively. You are your own person, who am I to tell you how to live your life? Smoking cigarettes falls into this category. I don’t know why someone would start doing something that’s addictive, costs a fair amount of money, and will kill you slowly and painfully if you continue unabated. That’s your decision to make. But what do you do with that cigarette after you smoke it?
Sitting in the Future Shop parking lot going through my “time to drive away” routine, I glanced over as the world’s biggest truck/compensation-device-on-wheels pulled into the three spots in front of me. I say three spots because they parked in three spots, which at 11 in the morning in an almost empty parking lot wasn’t too big a deal for me. What came flying nonchalantly out the driver’s side window a second later was.
A cigarette butt, still smoking, somersaulted through the air, across the parking lot and landed about 10 feet in front of my car, where it smouldered on the asphalt. I was surprised at how violently I reacted internally; thoughts of getting out of my car, walking over, picking it up and throwing back into their car ran through my head fairly quickly. That along with the word “asshole” repeating in the background.
As I defogged back to reality, I noticed the driver had turned, glanced at me, and sheepishly looked away as quickly as they made eye-contact. They refused to look me in the eye again as I slowly drove out of the parking lot, giving them the most vehicularly dangerous stare down I can remember. Thankfully there was no one else in the parking lot, because instead of focusing on where my car was idling along to, I realized I had removed all concentration and thoughts from my head save for one: “Shame. SHAME on you. Dirty cigarette smoker. I SAW that.”
In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal. But honestly, if I put something chalk full of chemicals in my mouth, set it on fire, then threw it on the ground in front of you, what would your reaction be? If you want to smoke, go ahead, keep something in your car you can throw it out in afterwards, and life can continue on it’s merry way. It’s the same as littering. Just do what I do: Start building Garbage Mountain in your backseat (or put it in a bag behind your seat) and throw it out when you get somewhere that has a garbage. It’s that simple. Respect spaces that aren’t personally yours, and others will do the same.
The whole thing lasted 10 seconds tops. But in that moment, I was someone else. I became a protector of the Earth, a “you’re not getting away with THAT” guy, a “who the FUCK do you think YOU are” confrontationalist. Like an internet tough-guy behind a windscreen instead of a computer screen. It felt good. I was proud. I drove off. I triumphantly took a swig of my coffee…
…which I promptly spilled on my shirt. Touché Universe.