Diatribe: If you’ve got ’em don’t smoke ’em
By AL VINIKOUR For Sun-Times Media December 4, 2012 4:30PM
Today I’m going to revisit a topic I haven’t done in quite a while but I believe it’s something that needs “re-scussing” as we used to say in my beloved home state of Indiana. The subject is people who smoke in cars when there are kids inside, and even worse, infants.
What raised my hackles was my trip to Wal-Mart the other day. As I was walking up a parking lot aisle a car was headed the wrong way. Why would anyone do that?
My answer came as I moved over to let this idiot pass. Behind the wheel was a woman who looked like the mother from the reality show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” A Virginia Slim was dangling out of her mouth and sitting in the passenger’s side was a guy who looked like he couldn’t spell “cat” if you spotted him the C and the A. He was smoking, but he had his window lowered a bit so he could flick his ashes out of the beautifully rusted-out old Taurus.
This was bad enough to qualify for the next “Wonders of Wal-Mart” email that occasionally makes the rounds. But I could see a little baby in a bassinette in the back seat of the vehicle. Here’s this poor little person laying there trying to develop lungs it may need as it grows older and those two buffoons are doing all they can to subject this child to an infusion of second-hand smoke that will probably have a permanent effect on its development.
Let me make something clear at the onset; this diatribe is by no means a put-down of the poor. Not by a long shot. I not only embrace poverty but am well acquainted with its nuances. The entire focus of my rant is what that innocent infant was going through.
Regular readers know what’s coming next — administering punishment. At the very least a person who smokes in a vehicle that contains children — and especially a baby — should be yanked out of the car by a mountain man, tied to a tree and brushed from head-to-toe with honey. Somebody in the mountain man’s posse should throw rocks at a mother bear and two cubs that happen to be sauntering by.
But, just to show that I can be persuaded to give someone a second chance, first-timers who present a good enough defense should be given a lighter penalty. I’m not trying to become one of the “sin police” whose ranks seem to be swelling. However, I do not condone what amounts to attacks on innocent children. Holding them captive in a smoke-filled vehicle is akin to child abuse.
My own lunacy should be proof enough that being in a closed environment filled with smoke can cause some serious medical problems. Who knows how much of it was caused by my own father who always smoked in cars and other confined places when I was a kid. I smoked for eight years, beginning when I was in college. But I never smoked in a car that was transporting children or babies.
Just to show you how concerned I am about little lives, whenever I see “yutes” (as my intellectual hero Joe Pesci called young people), I want to rescue them, put them in a safe place and then pour gasoline on the vehicle that contains the miscreants who are heartless and dumb enough to puff in a car containing children. At that point those people are either going to immediately quit smoking — or they’re going to die trying.
Just as the Pied Piper of Hamelin spent his life trying to remove rats from Ireland, so, too, is yours truly trying to keep people from smoking in a vehicle containing children. Life is tough enough without starting it with lung damage. And for those who whine that they’ve tried everything to quit smoking but nothing seems to work, I have a foolproof method that I guarantee will bring results: Walk inside a crowded truck stop wearing a T-shirt that says, “Those that can do; those who can’t drive 18-wheelers.”
Al Vinikour is a Midwest-based freelance auto writer. Proving a mind is a “terrible thing to use” he sometimes sits in traffic and ponders about things — generally auto-related — that make him mad. Believing the “pen is mightier than the sword” (and generally results in a whole lot less jail time), he vents his anger through a word processor and produces the Driver’s Side Diatribe column. Email him at email@example.com.
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