Walking down Oxford Street is really cool when you are looking up. At street level there is every shop you can imagine, including Banana Republic, where I work for one more week. Technically that’s on Regent Street, but it’s close. Above the shops is an amazing sight because of all the old buildings. You will have an architectural beauty from long, long ago next to a really cool modern glass building, and it’s so interesting. I was marveling at all of this while I was walking to McDonald’s on my break when suddenly I was choking on thick smoke and ash pieces.
As I said, when you are looking up on Oxford Steet, all is grand. When you are looking down, or rather, straight ahead, it’s a zoo. An absolute (here is where I would say the F word if I said the F word) zoo. Thousands of people are crammed on the street, and some of them like to smoke. Some of them like to smoke when there is construction on the already too small street and the pedestrian traffic is forced to smash together in a tiny line for 5 minutes to go 5 feet down the street.
I can see why people turn insane sometimes. When I realized I had this woman’s cigarette ash my mouth, I wanted to scream “I’M A HUMAN BEING!!!!!” Then I realized that acting crazy was going to get me nowhere because this woman obviously didn’t care about anyone but herself, kind of like the woman who answered her cell phone three times during the busy movie last night and actually had conversations with them. If she did care about people she wouldn’t be smoking on London’s arguably busiest street. After this realization I realized something wonderful. I have a terrible cough. The kind that comes from deep within. The hacking up a lung kind.
Now, it’s not good to start on a random city person. For all you know, they are crazy and will stab you. I figured probably nothing would happen if I were to accidentally cough directly in her face because it’s not an overt kind of craziness or outright confrontation. The street was crowded, lots of people cough uncovered anyway, and if it did kick off I could easily dart away in the crowd so I felt pretty sure I could get away safely.
I waited until we were out of the bottleneck, worked up a really good one, turned my head and hacked up a cough a couple inches from her face. YES. She turned and looked at me, absolutely disgusted, but I got so scared when I saw her boyfriend that I quickly mixed with the crowd and went back to work. Scared though I was, I felt proud!
For a second I thought what I did was childish. But I really don’t think it is. I’m sick to death of getting people’s cigarrette ash in my eyeballs (or in this case mouth) when I’m innocently walking around the city, or signing contracts to live in non-smoking houses only to have my bedroom smell like smoke because the landlord who wrote the non-smoking contract is a chain smoker. Smokers are rude and inconsiderate, and when you ask them to please move, they start rattling on about their “smokers’ rights.”
So I say fine, you can have your rights. You can keep filling my lungs, mouth and eyeballs with smoke and ash, and I will fill your face with every virus I can manage to pick up.