posted on May, 26 2008 @ 11:09 PM
This is a rant. This is not going to be logical, or scientific, or even coherent probably.
I am angry. No, I am infuriated.
Today, I went to a Golden Corral restaurant in South Carolina. I have eaten at this restaurant several times in the last few months. They have great
food, friendly waitresses, good prices, and they are located across the street from one of the stores I deliver to.
You see, I rarely eat at a nice restaurant anymore. It's not that I can't afford them; I can. Instead, I usually eat fast food, or even worse,
snacks and chips until I can get back home. I love eating out. I like being around other people. I have been told by many people that I am the life of
any gathering, due to a good sense of humor and an ability to brighten someone's day.
But I rarely interface with other people.
I haven't been to a movie theater in over 15 years.
I shun family gatherings, social events, even worry about visiting friends. I drive a truck for a living, and I purposely chose a night-delivery
schedule, so I could do my job without anyone else around.
I avoid shopping at all costs. When I do have to pick something up from town, I run into and out of the store at a full gallop. I pay with a credit
card so I can sign and go. When practical, I order things I need online.
ATS is at the present my main source of contact with others.
This one restaurant had something I went there specifically for. A smoking area. Yeah, it's silly, I know. I should just quit. It's bad for me. I
should drop dead, I know, I know. But I don't want to stop smoking.
Terrible, yeah. An affront to everything that is civilized, true. But I am a person, and I have rights too!
I am not some piece of trash that should be thrown out.
I am not some pimple on the face of society.
I do not have leprosy!
I do have a digestive malfunction, a combination of high acidity, a weak esophageal valve, a malformed stomach, and a tendency to swallow air that the
doctors could not explain.
There is no medication that helps me. I have tried all sorts of pills when I was younger; nothing helped for more than a week. I went to several
different doctors, several who were gastrointestinal specialists. There is no 'cure', it is simply the way I am. It's not a disease, it's more
like a birth defect.
I no longer have heartburn. Well, that's not exactly true. I cannot feel the heartburn like you do, or like I used to do. I guess that's a blessing,
because it hurt... badly. I do hurt, and it's still bad, but it's not heartburn. It's like a seizure of your insides, combined with severe bloating
It hurts when I eat. It hurts if I don't eat. Chicken soup hurts. Pizza with habaneros hurts. It doesn't matter what I eat. It hurts.
I don't talk about it much usually. There's no good reason to evoke sympathy when there is nothing that can be done. Besides, I found something that
brings a little relief. Cigarettes. It still hurts, but not as much. They seem to relax me inside, and allow things to work more 'normally'.
You would not know about this problem if you saw me. I take the pain. I force it down inside me, and let it out with a smile. All the while, I am
puffing that Marlboro to help get a little relief. Once in a while, the pain becomes too intense for me to handle, and I curl up into a fetal position
and shake violently. My wife and kids know about that. Precious few others do. I work around it.
I do not want sympathy; I want equality. I want to be a member of society. I want to have friends again. I want to see people, talk to people, face to
face with sound waves, not typing on some silly keyboard. I want to sit down to a nice steak dinner and baked potato with friends (or even strangers)
and enjoy my meal. But to do so, I need my medication. I need that cigarette.
This Golden Corral has gone non-smoking. The last place I knew of where I could eat well without hurting so terribly is now gone.
Don't tell me I can go outside and smoke; I did today. When it hurts to stand up, that's a poor option. Ask someone lying in a hospital bed to go
outside to get their pain medicine. It's the same thing.
Speaking of which, I can probably never go to a hospital. I would probably die before they figured out they were killing me. I know I'm addicted; I
know about the health risks. I choose to take those risks, because nothing else works. So don't worry about me using up too many healthcare
resources; I probably will never use any. If I ever get that sick, I will die.
I don't want your pity. It won't help me. I want justice. I want a restaurant to be able to have one little corner, just one little corner, for
smokers. That's all. You can have the rest of the blessed planet, but leave me one little spot outside of my hoe where I can have a simple smoke in
peace. Where I can hurt a little less that day. Where I can relax. Is it that much to ask? One little space in the rear? Are the anti-smokers so
hateful, so angry, so callous, so cruel, to deny me that?
I work hard to make a living for my family. I obey the laws of the land. I do an honest days work, every day. I try to raise my children better than I
am. I have never laid a hand on my wife. I try every day to cheer up those few people I come in contact with. I pay my taxes. I don't drive drunk,
and I don't do drugs. I smoke - that's all.
So someone please tell me, why am I treated like some piece of dirt that needs to be thrown out? Is it that bad to help oneself not hurt? Or is it
something else, some other reason you choose to hate me and deprive me of all those little things you enjoy?
I would really like to know.