Fewer people smoke now than ever, which means way more people bum cigarettes. No one buys packs of their own. They just get a whiff of tobacco and go, “Hey! Smoking! I want to smoke, too!” Most of the time they offer to buy the cigarette, but they know I’m not going to accept their money. What’s the point? Stores don’t sell cigarette singles. If they did, the bummers wouldn’t have to bum.
If I walk past a guy with a nice-smelling burrito, I don’t stop and say, “Hey, could I buy a bite off you?” If I really want a burrito, I’ll buy my own goddamn burrito. I know what you’re thinking: what if I don’t want a whole burrito? Well, then I’m shit out of luck, because everyone is not required to share with me.
If a friend had a nice-smelling burrito, I might ask for a bite. That’s because friends are required to share with me, and vice versa. Likewise, I will gladly offer a friend a cigarette. I’ll even cut some slack to non-friends who I’m talking to in a friendly way. Stray cigarettes are for people I like, not for goony strangers with gingerly affectations.
If you are a bummer, you should know that acting shy and apologetic about the whole thing actually makes you more annoying. You come up to us, pause like a nerd, smile like a jerk, then say “Excuse me… could I… buy a cigarette off you?” as though the smoker stands to gain from the transaction. Then you stand around thanking us and sometimes even try to make conversation. Don’t do that. Get the cigarette and leave.
But actually don’t get the cigarette. Here’s the thing: I smoke because I am addicted to smoking. Being addicted to smoking is not a good thing. It is costing me a lot of money and hastening my death. Everyone knows this about smoking addiction and that’s why few people in this city are addicted anymore. Those of us who are still addicted enjoy just two benefits: solidarity with one another, and the pleasure of smoking. We shouldn’t have to share them with pink-lunged gawkers.
Bummers, if you must smoke, either bum from a friend or buy your own pack. I know you’re afraid that if you buy a pack for social occasions only, you might find yourself smoking during non-social times. But that’s the risk you run when you smoke.
If you think it’s too risky, don’t smoke. You shouldn’t smoke anyway.