Today is an odd day at work. Most of the kids are either playing in a basketball game at another school, or were allowed to come along and watch. The handful of students left in the school are the ones who were not allowed to go, mostly because of bad behavior.
So while there are very few students, the ones left are the ones who usually give us the most trouble, so it's not much of a break really. And for some reason, maybe resentment over not being allowed to go to the game, they're especially squirrelly.
Just a while ago, on the way up from lunch, I ran into the boys' washroom, rather than the teacher's washroom, just because it was on my way. I noticed a smell when I walked in-- someone had been smoking a cigarette.
Our students smoke. I would guess that of the 120 students we have enrolled, you could count the non-smokers on one hand. What's unusual about this is that it contrasts so starkly to the population at large. People don't smoke as much, and when they do, it's not indoors, increasingly.
I can remember as a kid people smoking all around me. In stores, in elevators. Someone in your car would think nothing of lighting up without asking. People smoked on airplanes, trains and Greyhound buses. At my high school, there was an unofficial "smoking" washroom.
I remember my parents meeting with some guy-- I don't know if it was an insurance or real estate guy. He casually sat and smoked a cigarette as he talked to them. At some point, he accidentally set the cigarette down on my hand and burned it. I still have the scar on my first knuckle of my right pinky finger from the burn. I'm guessing my parents didn't buy whatever he was selling.
Now, almost everywhere is a non-smoking area. Stores, elevators, buses, planes. Nobody would think about lighting a cigarette in your car without asking. Even restaurants and bars-- more and more of them are non-smoking. The restaurant I work at has gone completely non-smoking, except on their patio in the summer.
I am not a fanatical anti-smoker. I think it's an unhealthy-- and increasingly expensive-- habit, but I still think it's a personal choice. It's strange to me, how this habit, ingrained into our culture, has become increasingly marginalized. It's odd, to me, even as a non-smoker, that the familiar old smell of a cigarette has become a rarity.