Where There’s Smoke, There’s a ‘No Smoking’ Sign

“It is now proved beyond doubt that smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.” – Fletcher Knebel (Reader’s Digest, Dec. 1961)

One thing that makes riding the bus in an unfamiliar city slightly intimidating is not knowing what your destination looks like. Unsure of what to look for, how do you know which is your stop? With Google Maps proving to be a lousy travel mate, I had to rely on gut feeling. One late afternoon, after watching the bus pull away, I realised my ‘gut feeling’ was just heart-burn. I had no idea where I was, and there was no bus schedule in sight.

With only the general direction of the bus as a guide, I headed off to the next bus stop, hoping to find a bus schedule and some sense of direction. I eventually found both of these, along with St. John’s’ largest ash tray.

Smoker caught on camera smoking in front of a 'No Smoking' Sign

No smoking! That means YOU!

I was horrified by the sheer volume of cigarette butts – especially considering the numerous ‘No Smoking’ signs at the bus stop. More curious than the lack of buses that stopped there was the number of people that did – and they weren’t waiting for a bus at all. They came, they smoked, they left. It was like a smoking area at an airport.

It then occurred to me that this bus stop was right in front of a hospital. A sickly-looking patient slowly wheeled her IV stand to the bus stop. I felt terrible for her. She was obviously not in good health, and she had to wait among the cigarette butts and polluted air for the arrival of a family member. How dare people smoke at a hospital bus stop which is clearly demarcated as a smoke-free area! Then, in an instant, she pulled out a couple of cigarettes and lit both of them! I guess she was healthier than I thought. Either that, or she was a patient for very good reason.

Hospital patient enjoying a couple of cigarettes

Patient enjoying a drag of fresh air…

A bus did finally arrive, and I was able to leave the smoke and mirrors of the hospital bus stop. As the bus took off into the sunset like a Malboro cowboy, there was no knowing which stop the journey of life would bring me to next. I could only hope it was to a smoke-free zone in which the ‘No Smoking’ signs were actually adhered to.

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2 Comments

  1. Amazing how things have changed. I still remember when folks smoked EVERYWHERE without a second thought: in the movies, restaurants, on buses, literally everywhere (even inside hospitals). It’s actually interesting how the culture has changed attitudes so much. Pity that advertising (or whatever) is still hooking so many youngsters into starting the nasty habit. So very hard to quit once one is addicted (voice of experience here!) 😉

    • This is very true. I’ve heard that it is harder to quit smoking than it is to quit a multitude of other things.

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