Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pipes and Red Crocs

Around where I work, there's only one tiny area where people are allowed to smoke. So, especially at lunchtime, there's usually a group of 4-8 people huddled together (protected in our ghetto, we People of Smoke). I HATE that forced camaraderie! Honestly, I usually just want to SMOKE my damn cig and NOT necessarily have to make small-talk! God, one rough-looking cleaning lady is always there, always offering me a seat next to her on one of the 2 tiny benches (which would entail my squushing in between her and the other person on the bench). "No thanks, gotta smoke and run," I usually say. (Ugh. I hate having to EXPLAIN why I don't want to wedge myself tightly between 2 strangers on a bench!)

A couple of days ago, my bus let me off near the smoking ghetto with only 5 minutes to spare before I had to be at work. I REALLY just wanted to suck down a cig and then speed-walk the half-block to make it "kinda" on time (i.e., 3 minutes or so late). I saw only one person there, a hulking, pasty-faced young student with a bad haircut. "OK," I thought. "Nerdy guys are often shy about speaking to girls, so maybe, just maybe, I'm safe for a Silent Smoke!"

Nope. I forget what he first asked me, but I grunted something monosyllabic in response. A few seconds of silence, then he tried again: "So, do you work around here?" Now I really HAD to answer, so I told him that I was a temp at a building close by, etc., and added how hard it was to get a smoke in before work with the bus schedule, etc. Which led to his positing wryly that some people might catch an earlier bus to be able to have a more leisurely smoke than I was obviously having! :) Which made me laugh and tell him, honestly, "No, I just prefer to catch the last bus possible and then curse at the red lights and at all the people who don't have their bus passes ready when they get on and at the slow-pokey people crossing the street!"

His chuckling at that put me in a good mood, especially once I relaxed and noticed that this huge young guy was sitting there puffing on a PIPE (the old-fashioned kind, with tobacco in it) and WEARING RED CROCS! :)

Today after work, I stopped at the same place for my cig before catching the bus home. (Always more leisurely than the morning smoke.) And there he was again: same pipe, same Crocs!

"I know you," I said. "I recognize the Crocs."
"Hey, don't judge."
"You never forget the Crocs."
"I think I scared some people the other day. They thought I was a redneck."
"Why would they think that?"
"I came back from an interview and it was hot, so I took off my shirt and sat out here."
"Why is that 'redneck'?"
"Well, because there I was, sitting in just a wife-beater--do you know what a 'wife-beater' is?-- with the Crocs..."
"Um...yeah, I know what a 'wife-beater' is. And no, no one probably thought that you were a redneck! Because I can't think of a single redneck male who would ever be caught dead in Crocs!" :) :)

I also liked hearing about how sometimes when he shaved his head and wore some workboots that he owned, he got a much different vibe from people who assumed he was a skinhead... "And then to really freak 'em out, I try to help old ladies across the street in that outfit!"

And the pipe: He just started smoking it 8 months ago, a company just sent him the wrong lighter for it. I thought butane lighters were a real pain, and that he would be more picturesque once it was cooler and he was puffing away amid the crisp air and falling leaves. I'd tried one of my dad's pipes when I was a kid, but, no, didn't particularly like or dislike it...

Again, I departed from him feeling happy, not depressed by the usual uber-inanity/faked jovial conversations among people FORCED to speak by the 6 x 6 pittance-of-a-space provided for every single smoker in the whole area! It felt GREAT to talk about WEIRD STUFF as opposed to talking in an attempt to make all other strangers present feel what a "good," "insightful" person you are! :)

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