Many years ago, I was standing on the southwest corner of Georgia & Burrard, waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street (to the east) towards the Hotel Vancouver. There was a car sitting next to me, on my left, waiting to turn right, onto Burrard.

And while I was standing there waiting, the woman in the passenger seat contemptuously flicked out her still-smoldering cigarette, which landed right next to my foot.

The sheer disregard and selfishness of that action got to me in that instant. I simply reached down and threw it back in the car, helpfully adding, “I think you dropped this.”

Just as I did that, the light turned green, so I proceeded to cross the street, without even looking back. The car was stuck there, waiting for the stream of pedestrians to cross, so it didn’t move. But I did hear her shriek from behind me. I heard the driver screaming at me, too… “Hey!! What the f#@&!!”

The guy blared his horn a few times too, no doubt scaring and upsetting the pedestrians in front of him. I heard more yelling, but, as I said, didn’t turn around so didn’t really see what else may have happened. There was no sudden explosion, so I suppose it all turned out ok.

If that happened today, I’m not sure I’d do the same thing… it seems reckless. On the other hand, the blatant selfish entitlement displayed by that woman deserves some sort of response. “I’m going to smoke right next to you, I’m going to litter right in front of you, I’m going to throw something on fire at your feet… and I couldn’t care less about what you or anyone else thinks.” It’s brutal.

The usual saying is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but I prefer a slightly different version: “Don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you” – it’s a subtle (but very important) difference… which is that as long as what someone else is doing doesn’t affect you, leave them alone. You don’t want people telling you what to do when it’s none of their business, right? So respectfully… do the same for them. Either way, don’t impose your actions or beliefs on those who aren’t interested.

Which leads us to masks, and let’s set-aside the politically-attached nonsense that goes along with them. This is Canada, and there’s no political party implying that masks are a bad idea. And since around here we actually like listening to what scientists have to say – and they also happen to agree – let’s just go with the generally accepted proven fact that masks are a good idea.

If you are spewing cigarette smoke in my face (not to mention discarding its lit “delivery device” at my feet), let’s agree that it’s an offensive way to disrespect my personal space. Flip it around; even if you smoke, do you want someone blowing smoke in your face?

If that’s not ok, then why would potentially imposing your Covid-19 breath-droplets on someone else be ok? If you’re not wearing a mask while everyone else around you is, think about the message you’re projecting. It’s narcissism at its most fundamental level. Your “so what” and “who cares” attitude normally wouldn’t matter. As per above, if it doesn’t affect me, I don’t care.

Except, of course, in this case… it *does* affect me. Potentially quite drastically, whether me personally, or those around me who may be more vulnerable.

Dr. Bonnie is very gentle in her messaging. Be kind, be calm, etc. But I’m not Dr. Bonnie and I’m not so kind and calm, so I’ll put it in my own words: Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be a self-centered, entitled jerk. Don’t be a disrespectful clown who thinks they’re so awesome, flaunting their individual freedoms… at the expense of everyone else.

Yeah, on second thought… I’d totally throw that cigarette back into the car, onto her lap… if for no other reason than because not doing so empowers her belief that that sort of behaviour is OK. It’s not. It affects everyone around her. Sort of like not wearing a mask.

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