… And of course this post will not be about the haze because I’ve written enough about it. (Actually, one last thing I want to mention regarding the haze was that my office people were nice enough to give me an N95 mask during last year’s haze season because I had an asthmatic history. I ended up not using the mask because it was kinda very uncomfortable and my asthma hadn’t acted up in about a decade, but it was cool nonetheless.)
The topic of today is smoke. Like cigarette smoke.
I generally have a very dim opinion of smokers because most of them are oblivious to the sensibilities of the people around them. During national service I’ve had close contact with a lot of people, a significant portion of whom were very clearly smokers. Now, I worked in an air-conditioned office (where smoking is obviously forbidden) and the electronic biodata I had access to never included such “trivial” information like whether someone was a smoker. (See footnote.) I also never hung out around the smoking area. So how did I manage to conclude that the smokers were in fact smokers?
The answer is obvious to anyone who’s been near a smoker: the smell of tobacco. It’s an unmistakeable stench that announces to the whole world that you just had a smoke. And for logistical reasons, people tended to look for me during their breaks, which, for the smokers (I presume) included smoke breaks either before or after the consultation.
The worst part of all this is that it’s not even difficult to mask the tobacco stench: just get a bunch of mints! I don’t have a particular good sense of smell and the masking provided by typical mints is enough to fool me, so this may very well be selection bias at work, but a lot of people don’t even bother with this basic courtesy. There were some people (I would name names if I remembered them, but alas!) who kept looking for me right after their high sessions—I don’t recall them ever smelling not like smoke—and it really, really pissed me off. (Of course, there were also people who I didn’t even realise smoked for quite a while because they were polite enough to do something about their breath.)
Did I say something before about polytechnic graduates and the military? (The answer is “yes”, but I probably nuked the blog post.) Apparently, being a poly grad (versus JC) is also somewhat correlated with having a smoking habit, though I don’t have much data to support this and it’s probably some combination of selection/confirmation bias hard at work in my brain.
Another thing that used to bug me last year was that I used to take a bus from camp to AMK Hub then walk the remaining distance (about 2 km) home. Stepping out of AMK Hub was horrible—I’d almost immediately encounter hordes of smokers hanging around and smoking without any care in the world. I don’t know why they conglomerate just outside an area with high human traffic instead of having their smoke in some nearby HDB flat void deck, which, on the other hand, are practically devoid of smokers. (These observations were made in the early evenings.)
And speaking of smoking in public areas, a couple of weeks ago I was idly waiting at a bus stop, when a bus (not the one I was waiting for) came by, and some asshole who was smoking just threw her cigarette butt onto the grass to board the bus. Yo, what the hell, the ashtray is just a couple of metres away! I had the urge to just shout “hey bitch, pick up that cigarette” but I didn’t have the courage. I should work on that.
For that matter, just looking around at the ground in Singapore reveals a somewhat startling fact: a huge proportion of litter is made of cigarette butts. (And actually this turns out to be true in a huge part of the world, which goes to show how uninformed I am.) The natural solution to this is to simply outlaw cigarettes, except this won’t be done because presumably the government makes boatloads of dosh from the vice tax. (Put another way: when I do get a job (as if), would I be willing to pay extra in taxes to make up for the loss of income from the vice tax? I’m not sure.)
Footnote: Actually, I probably did have access to the paper records for such biodata, but not the electronic records, and I avoided checking paper records as far as I could for two reasons: first was that I had no business checking their records, and second was that accessing the paper records would’ve required walking a couple of metres.