Thursday, November 06, 2003

I am tired, stayed up too late last night. We picked up a friend at the airport, and her plane got in at 12:30 am. Afterwards we went out for a drink, since it is the only time we had to visit. When we got to the bar, she asked me if I minded, and then she lit up a cigarette. It didn't occur to me that this is now illegal in NYS, as I don't smoke, and also, I very rarely go to a true bar anymore. By that I mean, a place where booze, not food is the primary focus. Anyway, the bartender quickly told her that she couldn't "do that in here." There were Yankee Candles on the bar, for pete's sake. She moved to Virginia before the new legislation was passed and didn't get it, asking, "you mean this isn't the smoking section?" So we both explained the law.

Bob and I accompanied her outside, because we hadn't seen her since March and we all wanted to chat. Before we left, she wanted to smoke again, so we went back outside. On our way out that second time, the bartender asked, rather anxiously, "are you folks all finished?" and we said "yes." I thought he wanted to clear the table, but instead he followed us out the door, and once outside, he lit up a cigarette too. After the night was over, and we were on our way home, Bob had the funniest observation. The bar was empty, not because there were no customers, but because all the smokers were outside, smoking. The nonsmokers were outside, visiting with the smokers. And, the person who was supposed to be helped by the law, the bartender, was outside, also smoking. (Earlier, he had grumbled, "the law is supposed to protect my health, but since the smokers were chased away and business is down, I can't afford health insurance.")

Yes, bars are more pleasant for me without the smoke, but I don't frequent bars, and I think people who do either smoke or don't mind. I don't know a lot of nonsmoking bartenders, actually. Or maybe a compromise, there should be a special rule - ban suspended after midnight, when no-one cares, or should care. Standing on the sidewalk with this group while absorbing secondhand smoke, we were panhandled three times. So it seems the bums are the folks who really benefitted from the smoking ban.

Anyhow, once again, my sleepiness seems to have postively impacted class...discussion was better than usual. Wish I could bottle the demeanor.

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