05 August 2002

What do you mean I can't smoke in the office anymore?

Fucking hell. Coding without cigarettes is like scuba diving without a tank. I hate Mondays.

So the decision was made (by who I have no idea) that from today we can't smoke in the office any more. I could see that if there were some non-smokers in the office, but there aren't any. Silly. Not to mention that "not smoking in the office" only means that we hang our heads out the window to puff on our cancer sticks. Irritating, as many a Camel Light has helped me figure out where I forgot to close some tags or other such web nerd nonsense. Instead, I get to haul my ass out of the chair and over to the window where my train of thought is derailed by thoughts along the lines of "Damn, it's nice and sunny out, wish I was at the beach..." Arrrrrrggggg.

Yeah, I know. Big fucking deal, right? But come on, man, this is Italy. A "no smoking" sign is like an open invitation to light up. I can't count the number of times that I've seen some wizened old man exhaling underneath a vietato fumare sign in the metro. Recently a law similar to those in the states has been passed, which bans smoking in certain public places unless the ventilation systems are up to spec. More on this in a bit*. Ponder this little blurb for a minute:

When i went back to the States for xmas '00, the first thing I wanted to do after a 10 hour-journey-with-a-10-hour-layover-somewhere-in-the-middle was light up a goddamned cigarette. Unfortunately,in the US they don't provide us evil horrible excuses of human beings commonly known as "smokers" a small private area to pursue our legal vice. Not even a fucking broom closet. So I had to wait for my bags, get through customs, and then go outside, 15 feet away from any public entrance to the building before I could even begin to think about lighting up a cig and smoking away the stress caused by 10 hours with a screaming baby and a too-nosy-rowmate.

Of course, thanks to some dumb ass tour guide who left half of her group in the baggage claim area, couldn't understand the big sign reading "You cannot re-enter into the baggage claim area once you have cleared customs" and was arguing with the customs agent, the random timer went off when I was passing through. Which meant my bag got searched while Pops the customs guard asked me where I had been, if I had been to Amsterdam, if I had anything illicit on me, and what size panties do you wear, honey? (Yeah, I made the last part up.)

I finally make it out to my mom and two sisters (3 years and 11 years younger than me), hug them briefly, and bless my mother when she tells me the large Thermos she's holding contains fresh margaritas. (Mom is a goddess.) With Cointreau and Patron Silver. Made with lime and frozen. (Italian margaritas are on the rocks affairs usually made with lemons. Sacrilege) Realising my need for nicotine, we scurry outside to an appropriate distance from the entrance where I can finally light up and bitch about the lack of facilities for smokers. As Mom pours out the margaritas into plastic Dixie cups, my (older) younger sister points out that nasty no-open-containers-of-alcohol law. Shit. Well, let's go sit in the car in the parking lot then. No go. Open container in a car, even a non-moving vehicle, is even worse penalty wise. Bugger. We look at each other. (Older) younger sis tells me "Welcome back to the Land of the Free"

It kills me. My tax dollars go to pay for, say, an airport or some other public type place and I don't even have the right to a small little space to light up. I hear some idiot is trying to outlaw smoking in outdoor public places. How fucking nuts is that?! Like you can smell my cigarette smoke from 50 meters away. Your right to "clean air" overrules my right to pollute my lungs? Get fucked, mate. It's all about compromise. I promise not to pollute your air in closed, communal non-ventilated spaces if you promise not to wrinkle your nose when I stroll by in the park with a fag in hand. Oh, and I want broom closet at the airport.

*The new law has affected a few places. And a few steep fines have been handed out. But, like, everything else in Italy, people basically do what they want. And if the table or person or proprietor next to them politely asks them to stop, they do. Thank the deities, anti-smoking mania hasn't reached the lynch-mob proportions like the States.

Enough. There is only so much nicotine-less coding for Opera a girl can do in a day. Off to go sit in the Circo Massimo. With a pack of Camels. And a beer.

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