Oct 27, 2008
I gave up smoking two years ago. I did it for many reasons. I was feeling like shit at the end of the day. My kids bugged me constantly to quit. My mother-in-law had just died from emphysema. And not least of all, because I was starting to feel like a social leper. The places where you could light up in public were getting to be few and far between. And if you did find a place you were reduced to shamefully puffing away while all the non-smokers waited patiently for you to hurry up already.
Every year more and more cities, counties and even states are passing laws that prohibit smoking in one place or another. I don't regret giving up the "cancer sticks". But as someone with an addictive personality I have to admit I still miss it. But I fight the urges and carry on.
Today I received quite a shock. I served jury duty today. As anybody who has performed this important, but very boring civic duty, can tell you, it involves quite a bit of sitting around and waiting in a confined space.
At the start of our morning a very nice court employee was explaining the lay of the land to everybody. She was quite entertaining. As she was nearing the end of the rules she asked "Any smokers here?".
Everybody looked from side to side. At first only about three or four people in a room of well over 200 people raised their hands. Seriously, three or four people. We all knew there were more of them out there. But they weren't 'fessing up.
"Now c'mon, this will be important to you. Raise your hand if you're a smoker." the nice court lady encouraged them in a very motherly tone of voice. Sheepishly a few more raised their hands. "Well, at break time you are the only jurors allowed to go outside. Everybody else has to stay in the building." You could hear the gasps in the room. Then the mumbling and grumbling started.
She then told the the smokers that we were going to have to get started at 9:00am sharp and that they had just enough time to sneak out for a quick smoke. I was standing near the front counter as the nice lady behind the counter dumped out a healthy supply of "loaner lighters" for the smokers since theirs had been confiscated on the way into the courtroom.
There was a stampede. As I suspected, the jury pool certainly had more than the dozen smokers who had raised their hands. I fully expected somebody to complain about this special priviliege. Especially since it was being bestowed upon "smokers". Maybe it was the courthouse setting or perhaps, like me, some of them were former smokers and could empathize. Not one person complained.
I think I know why the court makes an exception for smokers. It isn't in anybody's best interest to have a cranky, distracted juror. I'm sure the whole "fair and impartial" thing is really hard to control under the influence of nicotine withdrawal. I certainly wouldn't want my fate resting in the hands of a heavy smoker who had gone without a fix for the whole day all because of me. Innocent until proven guilty my ass.
The only thing that keeps me from starting to smoke again is knowing how hard it was to quit. I hope those smokers enjoyed every minute. Light one up for me!