One of my nasty habits is that I enjoy a cigarette. I’ve smoked since I was sixteen, only cutting down and quitting at times since I hit my thirties.
I’m well aware that it is one of the biggest mistakes of my life. My health has suffered dramatically – I have a reduced lung capacity, I find it more difficult to exercise and I have developed a nasty cough on occasions, and over the years I have spent thousands on my habit.
I consider myself to be a reasonably rational and intelligent person, but I’ve gained nothing from smoking, and yet still can’t seem to completely quit. It’s almost like an emotional crux, often accompanying a drink, and there’s no better feeling than lighting up and taking that first drag after a stressful few days. I love it. For those first few moments all the tension, anxiety and worries disappear with each exhale.
Most of my friends are now non-smokers, having seen sense years ago and kicked the addiction, and with the smoking laws I often find myself outside bars and restaurants alone, quietly enjoying the nicotine rush by myself. Unfortunately, this also means that I seem to have a sign above my head that says ‘Free Cigarettes’ in neon flashing lights. Sometimes I oblige, but not as much as I used to. The other day, when standing outside the pub, I was approached by no less than three people in the space of just a few minutes, all of them asking the same question:
“Excuse me love, can I pinch a cigarette?”
I responded with a simple ‘no, sorry,’ to the first three. I only had a few left, and normally I try and be reasonably polite, but by the fourth one I was getting a bit hacked off. A fourth, however, was far more blunt:
“Give us a cig, love.”
I responded with an evil look and quite a snappy ‘no,’ and he seemed quite surprised at my reaction.
“Alright love, go f*ck yourself you miserable b*tch.”
This isn’t the first time I have had a negative reaction from a scumbag. I remember a very drunken woman yelling at me because I was a ‘tight b*tch’ and that I have an iPhone so I ‘should be able to give out a cig to someone else.’ I don’t have a problem with helping people out – I help out who I can, when I can, I give to charity, I have adopted several animals, I buy food for homeless men and women when I’m out in the city, I fundraise, I give my stuff to charity shops and I collect items every year for an amazing homeless charity. I’m not a snob, and I don’t feel that I’m better than anyone else. The problem I have is the assumption that some people have that they are entitled to something for nothing, and that it’s acceptable to approach a complete stranger and abuse them when they don’t respond in the way that they’d like. Smoking is a luxury, something that I pay for with money that I work bloody hard for, and I’m getting a bit annoyed with those that assume that everything should be given to them for free, and get nasty when it isn’t. I’d love to be able to go up to a business person and say ‘give me some money because I want a bigger TV and a foreign holiday because you earn more than me,’ but I don’t, because I have what I have and I work for it.
It isn’t just smoking. It isn’t uncommon for people to ask to borrow my phone, or ask for 20 pence (what the hell is 20 pence going to get you?). There have even been instances where I have been eating a sandwich and have been asked for the other half, or in the queue at McDonalds and asked by a very drunken man behind me to buy him a cheeseburger (?!), but the smoking thing really annoys me. Buy your own bloody cigarettes!!!
What about you? Are you often approached by people in the street asking for things? How do you deal with it?
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All the time! I will occasionally oblige just to get rid of them, but at times I have been called names for saying ‘no’ as you were. The only thing I really hate are repeat offenders- don’t take advantage twice!
It’s so rude isn’t it? There are those that won’t take no for an answer and will follow me for a while when I walk away. They only seem to do it when I’m on my own though!
They follow you? Oh, that’s just creepy. Be careful.
I will – perhaps it’s because I look younger than I am, but I can be quite feisty when I need to… There’s a lot of weirdos out there!
No. Not approached.
I guess walking around with a scowl and a ‘Don’t even go there’ type of mean-ass look, tends to be off putting. 🙂
You must practice a mean look in the mirror. Rather like being a tree in Drama lessons. . . but don’t hold your arms out or else someone might frisk you and nick your posh iPhone. Wished I earned enough for one of them. . .
ps Giz a ciggie will ya.
I’m 32 but look much younger, so perhaps this makes me look more vulnerable… I’ll start giving them my best teacher face!
Lol Suzie.. Totally with you on the bumming of cigarettes. Usually I’m approached by ‘partying folk’. I ask, ‘why don’t you have any?’ (I already know the answer.. Tight ass) ‘because I only smoke the odd one when I’m drinking’. Lame. I’ve been known to retort with ‘well then, a packet will last you a long time!’
Sometimes I don’t bother with that though and feel generous enough to oblige… But only once. If a second request is made I generally question it.
I sometimes offer cigarettes to people begging on the street though.
I do that – if I haven’t got any money I’ll give a cig to a homeless person… I’ve had that conversation you’ve had so many times – I think we should try it they next time we’re out and see if we can get some instead!
Lol… I’d never make a nuisance of myself like that. I rarely have a lighter though… So I’m a bit of a flame scabber 😆
Ooh Flame Scabber – I like that!
And I go back to janis Joplin – Oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz, my friends all drive Porshes I must make amends …….
I’m going to have that song in my head all night now!
One of my oldest friends is called Mercedes and we used to sing it to her all the time – it’s one of those that stick in your head… Love Janis Joplin too!
Ask and ye shall receive… isn’t that supposed to be the formula? Oh, wait, you aren’t God. Hmm…
I always feel bad when saying no, like I’m doing something wrong…
You must be really approachable, this has never happened to me, lol. Well I don’t smoke but the other things. I like that bit about smoking is a luxury which you pay for… really like that.
Thanks! It’s an expensive habit, but a luxury in my opinion as it isn’t necessary for survival.
Yes, exactly. It just made me think about how often people who think luxuries are rights, when they are not. They are luxuries and they need to be paid for.
Definitely! I should just start going to random people and asking them to buy me a chocolate bar, or pay for my bus fare, or buy me a drink at the bar!
I don’t remember any stranger asking me to give her/him anything and I consider myself a kind man. Strange! Do I have negative electricity?
If you do, could you send some my way? Perhaps I just look like a pushover…
While I was working in France I was still smoking, before I have quit – see my reports here. It is true what they wrote about France. There you see yourself constantly asked for a cigarette when you smoke in public, be it in Paris or a small border town.
I’ve also noticed a growing sense of entitlement, but there are still good people out there, like you, who aren’t like that.
Aww thanks! It would be nice for everyone t try and help everyone else, but unfortunately lots don’t seem to want to…
I’m often approached for money and many times I will say “I’m sorry I don’t have anything” because honestly I don’t….unless they want the lint from the bottom of my purse.
Sometimes their new shoes or Iphone will warrant a look like “Really? you are asking me for change?” …if they can come up with the money for designer duds/shoes or a fancy phone then they can manage on their own just fine.
There was a time that I gave $20 to a person but it was a man that I had often see at a street corner holding up a sign stating he needed money for his wife’s medication. This man was elderly and come rain or shine he was standing there hoping for some help…..when I handed him my last bit of cash tears filled his eyes, I smiled and he nodded and went on my way.
That made me smile. The Bloke did the same last Christmas so the guy couldn’t get a few nights in homeless shelter and the man cried…
I don’t smoke. I’ve lost more than half of my family to cancer, so it’s simply not going to happen for me, but my brother does smoke and I’ve seen this happen to him. The difference being, he’s physically larger than a lot of the guys that approach him and carries a gun, so people tend to be intimidated even though he is one of the most approachable people, very “Hail fellow, well met.” I’m the exact opposite, so it’s not uncommon for me to be called names, but if he says no, people are totally cool with it. Disappointed, but cool with it. Just because we’re women, doesn’t mean we deserve to be abused for saying no, in any capacity.
I agree. The bigger someone is, the easier people seem to be with them…
By proxy, I do think people respond differently to men. I have no idea why we, as women, are supposed to be such nice, little pushovers. I don’t like or respect that attitude.
Can’t say that happens to me often, but one time last year a homeless guy (so he says, anyhow) asked me for some change. I use my debit card for everything and don’t keep cash on me and I told him so. He went off while walking away. You’d think someone with (allegedly) nothing left wouldn’t make a scene like that in front of other potential panhandling victims.
It sounds really snobbish, but I often get harassed by people that can clearly afford their own stuff – they choose to skive off others rather than buying things themselves. I always marvel at the fact that they think that being rude to me will make me change my mind…
It’s amazing how many people try to influence others with douchebaggery. I often wonder what made them think it would work.
Someone asked for half of your sandwich? That’s mental. We call sandwiches, pieces and certainly have given him a piece – of my mind. What type of sandwich was it? I’d launched it into a group of seagulls and told him to go fetch and watch as he got shat on again and again. Oooooo
Haha! Has that made you angry Steve? I was eating a cheese salad sandwich (or butty, as it’s called where I’m from), so it wasn’t even a posh one!
I can relate so much to your article. Up until last year I used to smoke and just hated being abused. There was a time when I cut it short and then I was the one pinching from people constantly at work, because I was afraid that if I buy a whole pack it’ll make me smoke more again. However, every time I went on a business trip I bought a carton for half the price you pay in Ireland and basically just paid everyone back. Again, this was at work so we knew each other. I’d never ever give a stranger a cigarette. Why?? As you rightly put it, it’s my money and I’m working hard for it. Smoking is a luxury at €10 a pack now so if you can’t or don’t want to afford it then give kick the habit rather than hassle (and in your case insult!) people if they don’t want share. I often get asked for €2 for the bus in Dublin and I always decline. Seriously, €2 is still a city centre fare and they can walk! Why should I finance them being comfortable. What’s next – money for the taxi fare?
Btw, you should read Alan Carr’s book or listen to one of those no smoking podcasts. I did it last year with my partner and we quit cold turkey. We didn’t even smoke our last cigarette. It’s been 10 months now and I miss nothing! 🙂
It’s amazing how cheeky people can be isn’t it! I have given people a bit of change if they are caught short when getting on the bus and they have always been grateful, but I get really annoyed with drunk men in particular who seem to move from person to person jus to get cash…
I get hit up for change a lot. If I am near a store (there’s a few that hang out at the 7-11 across the street from the homeless shelter) I will offer to buy them a bottle of water on my way out if they ask and are polite.
I did have someone try to get me to buy them buffalo wing potato chips outside of a drugstore once, but since that just sounds disgusting I told her I couldn’t (but would buy her a bottle of water instead LOL).
I always try and give money to the homeless, but I find that I often get harassed by people that are drunk… I seem to attract them!
Wow, arrogant so and so’s! Geesh! In the States, the Entitlement Mentality has taken over due to many factors, political and from the public schools and colleges telling these young skulls full of mush that everyone owes them a living here. Not true.
It didn’t used to be like this. When I was in my 20’s, people worked and earned their way. Today, young people want everything handed to them on a golden platter. Not on my dime, and go get your own bloody smokes! Great post!
Thanks John! When I teach I notice this in the students too – there’s a sense of entitlement from them all because that’s what their parents are like…
It’s irritating, but you live in a place where people ask. Here you have to be careful – someone tried to impose a windscreen clean on me at a red traffic light, and I said no. He continued regardless, and I bowled out of my car door. I was manhandled back inside by two gypsies who appeared from nowhere. Another example: Bigfoot came back from his first week at uni and described how a fellow student was “asked” to hand over his phone in broad daylight at the bus stop by Robin Hoodie. There was a knife pressed to his thigh to encourage him to play ball. Apparently it happens all the time. Bigfoot stood up, and Robin Hoodie did a runner without the phone.
It’s scary isn’t it! I’m sorry you had to experience that – did anyone help you out?
Did they buggery. I was told I was lucky I was a woman because most of the time they are armed with screwdrivers or knives.
Scumbags. Did you report it to the police?
Nope. No point here unless you are injured because they just register the complaint. They generally end up getting done one way or another, anyway.
I’m not going to preach to someone who clearly enjoys smoking so much, but giving up six years ago was one of the best things I did! I never got approached for freebies, I guess maybe because as a man, I’m not quite as approachable?
I agree – its the only sensible decision, but I think that the main problem is that I just don’t want to. It’s a horrible habit…
I live in Africa. Things are different here. People aproach you for food, money, jobs, handouts all the time…. It is hard, If I gave to all who asked me – I would not be able to get through the month. But I really do try not to be stingy. If he/she is selling some hand made item, I will try to support as much as I can…. But in all honestly sometimes you just have to say – sorry I don’t have any money -cause otherwise you will very quickly be taken advantage of.
Where in Africa do you live?
Namibia – that is in the south western part of Africa. There is a link on my About page if you are interested.
When I finally managed to quit smoking, it was an extra benefit not having so many irritating people asking me for a cigarette. If I get asked now it doesn’t really matter because I tell them I don’t smoke, sometimes I add, “Neither should you if you can’t afford to buy cigarettes”.
I can usually tell when people are about to ask me for money, I give them an aggressive stare and they change their mind. There was a time when I would always help a “down-and-out”, because they genuinely needed help, but now it is usually a professional beggar or people who want to take advantage of other people’s good nature.
By the way, the reason that smoking is so addictive is because the nicotine molecule is very similar to acetylcholine which is one of the main neurotransmitters in the brain. The nicotine molecule mimics the acetylcholine molecule and goes into the places that acetylcholine normally goes.
Sometimes it can be hard to think when you need nicotine because the neural transmission is impaired as a result of nicotine filling the “slots” that would normally have acetylcholine in them, so without nicotine the connection is not made.
The part of the body that sends a message to the brain to light up a cigarette is the bladder. This is because of homeostasis, the system for maintaining a constant environment. Nicotine is acidic, so when the acidic level drops, especially after taking anything that is a diuretic such as tea or coffee, it is time to have a cigarette.
Nicotine is a dual-action drug, it can relax or stimulate, but when you get pleasure from smoking a cigarette it is usually because you are stopping withdrawal symptoms.
Sorry if I have told you stuff you already know, I only intended to send the first paragraph as a comment, I went on roll.
I used to work with a guy who was a notorious cigarette pincher…after awhile, I got enough nerve to tell him no…just like you said, buy your own bloody smokes!
I used to work with one of them too – he earned a ton of money more than me too!
It really freaks me out when people ask me for things like that. I don’t smoke, but when I get the pair of yo-hos (as my dad would call them) who ask me for money b/c his dear friend is ill and has an injury, saying no is the smartest thing for me to do even if they cat call afterwards. Frankly it’s their own fault for not being able to make ends meat. I know I’m a nice enough person, but I know if I help them, I am going to be sucked dry.
This is a great post and here’s a different take on it. I started smoking around age 13, to be cool. I wasn’t doing it a lot, but would bum them from friends when I did. Then one day, they told me to buy my own. I decided that my measly allowance was better spent on other things, so that was my last day smoking. You are so right. Buy your own bloody cigarettes, and anything else you need or want. If someone asks me for something, and I say no, and they respond rudely, then I am glad I didn’t give it to them. Their rudeness shows their entitlement mentality.
I completely agree with you. Rightly done too. I once took a cab a short distance and the driver got very upset, because it wasn’t his expected distance and he wanted to make more money. He called me a f*cking c*nt (in derogatory Cantonese) when I left the cab, swearing under his breath the whole way. He didn’t ask anything from me – but his attitude is no different than expecting something he hasn’t earned.
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