Friday, October 14, 2016

Above and Below


From my window I have a view of the sky and some pines and poplars peeking over the roof top of the next wing of the facility. It's a pleasure to rest my eyes on them, especially when the evening sun catches the poplar leaves and makes them sparkle. Then, when the sun is gone, my eyes drift down to the circle assembled on the patio.

At first it looked like a cocktail party that met three or four times a day, with convivial little groups scattered around. "How nice," I thought. Then I started paying attention. 

Just before 4 they began to gather -- the eager ones a bit early. They form their groups and as I watch I see they are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the aide who dispenses the smokes. All are tense, faces turned toward the door. They lean forward a little as the door opens then slump back in disappointment when the newcomer is just another smoker.

One impatient fella begins to dig around in the covered ashtray at his side till he finds a butt end big enough to light and, producing a lighter from his pocket, fires up the butt and inhales deeply.

Some, presumably more shaky than others, are covered with vast aprons, fireproof, I suppose, to guard against a dropped cigarette. There is someone with a tracheotomy tube . . .



When the aide with the cigarettes arrives, she passes among the eager congregants, handing out cigarettes and lighting them. It seems an act of sacrament. 


And possibly it is. Having never been a smoker myself, I can have no idea of the comfort, the relief, the pleasure these sessions must bring folks who are hurting. The look that comes with the first inhalation suggests how it must be.





7 comments:

Ms. A said...

No longer a smoker, but I can remember the calming effect it had on me when needed. I rather miss that. Seems they always provided just what one needs at that particular moment, whether to calm down, sharpen the mind, or even to wake up, or go to sleep.

Anvilcloud said...

This kind of floors me: an aide dispensing smokes in a hospital. I guess it's the humane thing to do in a way.

Vicki Lane said...

AC-That was my first thought. But then I thought again and came to the same conclusion.

Barbara Rogers said...

As a former smoker, I do know the relief that first puff gives to the body craving nicotine...that's the addiction of it. Oh my. Why don't they just give those poor people a patch? Seems a simple answer to the drug itself, but I guess they have a choice. But when you mentioned the group of people meeting together, that brings back the social aspect of smoking. Before it was banned from all public buildings, before folks huddled at the entrances of office buildings, smoking was part of social interactions. I loved cocktails and a smoke. So we've sort of moved on. The joke I heard in the 90s was that a foreign visitor to the US saw the huddled crowd of women smoking outside an office door and said "How nice that you provide hookers for the office workers."

Frances said...

How well you described this late afternoon ritual, Vicki. I wonder if a similar circle might form in other nearby outdoor locations throughout the day. As a non-smoker, I am in doubt that one session would suffice.

I wonder if the tobacco companies use this as an advertising opportunity? So many questions arise. The family of one of my best NYC friends were NC tobacco farmers. Decades ago, they did sell the farm.

xo

Stella Jones said...

Read and noted! It is so destructive. I wish people would stop doing it.

Jim Egerton said...

I quit 27 years ago with help of the patch. 3 packs a day. I would not be here today without quiting when I did. It is a horrible addiction. I feel for those people, who even knowing they are dying from smoking, continue to put another nail in their coffin