Now that I’ve kicked cigarettes (it’s been a year and a half), my senses are tuned to any cigarette smoke that blows my way and you can add to that cigar or pipe smoke. And who needs culprits flipping butts over the balcony of a unit above me, sending them spiraling downward to rest on […]

Now that I’ve kicked cigarettes (it’s been a year and a half), my senses are tuned to any cigarette smoke that blows my way and you can add to that cigar or pipe smoke. And who needs culprits flipping butts over the balcony of a unit above me, sending them spiraling downward to rest on my balcony? So far that hasn’t happened, but I heard a resident complain that someone above her unit was regularly flipping menthol cigs onto her lower level unit’s patio. It happens. In fact, flipping stuff over balconies seems to be a form of entertainment in some buildings.  

Before I nixed the noxious weeds, I smelled as bad as the next smoker and often left a trail of smoky scent mixed with Chanel #5 when I exited the elevator. This is a smoke-free building, but that doesn’t stop residents from puffing away in front of the building while waiting for a cab. Stairwells are also popular hideouts in the winter, but I do sympathize with persons who don’t live here but come on other business and just have to have another cigarette.

NO SMOKING sayeth the many signs posted here and there and everywhere. PLEASE.

Shortly after I moved here, I encountered a gentleman smoking in our underground parking garage, which was clearly posted, “NO SMOKING.” I felt sorry for him, huddled near his car, dressed in a plaid bathrobe and bedroom slippers. His roomie must have kicked him out of their unit, and in a nicotine fit, he fled to the building’s bowels to grab a smoke. I told him the building was smoke-free and he laughed and blew smoke my way. Back in my unit, I neurotically fired up an American Spirit.

Several years later, during an elevator ride to the first floor, the same desperate chap proudly told me he had quit smoking but had gained 30 pounds. I know the feeling. Do I miss smoking? Yes. Once upon a time I lived in a great apartment at the Shorecrest Hotel, the home of free-range smoking (the owners lived in the penthouses and favored aromatic cigars). You could light up anywhere. Even the desk clerk always had one going. In the front lobby was a big black cigarette machine.

On occasion, someone up or down the block sets his or her unit ablaze. Of course, this building is loaded with smoke alarms marching across the ceilings in each unit, and their beeping batteries are a pain, but a necessary one. If there’s a genuine problem related to fire, a disembodied voice warns to exit the units and head down the stairwell. DO NOT USE THE ELEVATOR the ghostly voice intones. If you’ve ever walked down multiple flights of stairs on a set of bad knees, I’m here to tell you it isn’t easy, though I say this with a certain degree of shame because a very fit fellow living near me runs up and down multiple flights to keep in shape

He’ll be the first one out in case of fire. He doesn’t smoke either. 

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