It has been uncharacteristically rainy in my neck of the woods. Like mudslide and floods rainy. But there's one segment of the population who's hardier than the rest of us - they scoff in the face of a little squall. Yes, the smokers!
They flee in packs from the draconian Californian anti-smoking laws (as one upstanding colleague from the American South once said, civilized men *chew* tobacco), and huddle outside for mutual protection. Rain or shine, this virtual United Nations (my random sampling revealed that most are coworkers visiting from Europe or Asia) stoically defend their rights and puff away. The rain only seems to strengthen their solidarity and resolve. Go hug your trees, Californians, we shall overcome! Their baleful glances flashed from the hazy canopy underneath their umbrellas make me self-conscious and somewhat ashamed. A short time ago, I too was a smoking apartheidist. Smokers deserve to be the modern-day lepers, I thought! But my trips abroad changed my worldview. Outside the US, as a matter of fact, non-smokers are the outcasts. Over there, I was the one huddled outside in the drizzling rain. Go take your filthy non-smoking ways outside this establishment! We don't want our kids to be exposed to your non-smoke!
So tomorrow, my brothers of the tarred lung, I shall join your cause! I don't smoke, but I will breathe deep of the SUV exhaust permeating our green-conscious Californian parking lot, and we shall embrace, sing Kum-baya, and hack up phlegm together!.