Are You a Common Street Bum?

ImageYou wouldn’t walk up to a complete stranger and ask them for a Chicken McNugget. You likely wouldn’t walk up to a coworker and say give me a dollar.

But how many of you feel almost no compunction about walking up to friends and strangers alike and letting the following words slip out of your mouth: “Can I bum a cigarette?”

Shame on you.

And no, I’m not shaming  you for smoking. If you want to kill yourself to look cool–and yes, let’s all agree that it looks cool–by all means. But pay your damn freight. Chief.

The only people getting a free pass here? Those who are habitual smokers–pack a day or more–who somehow forgot a pack at home, lost a pack or are having a nic fit so bad and aren’t anywhere near a store.

The rest of you need to piss off.

I haven’t smoked a cigarette in 13 years. Not a single drag. But this morning coming out of the subway, I saw a man wearing fancy shoes and sporting a scarf turned just so ask one of those guys who hands out free newspapers if he could bum a cigarette. Asshole. You could tell just by looking at him he was one of those guys who hasn’t bought a pack in months, if not years. “Oh, I only smoke when I drink,” he might say — by which he means he smokes when his friends who pay for cigarettes are around and he can bum off of them.

Or whenever the urge strikes him and he can find some chump to cadge from.

The guy on the sidewalk told him no and shot him a nasty look. I don’t blame him. The cigarette bum probably earned twice, three times as much and here he was mooching. In New York. In 2013. Do you know how much a cigarette is worth in 2013 in New York? The average price for a pack was $12.50 last year, so you can probably ad another 50 cents to that and then some. That’s 65 cents per cigarette.

I quit smoking when cigarettes hit five bucks a pack. Partly because of health, but mostly because it occurred to me I was spending $35 a week to get cancer. And even back then it chapped my ass when people who obviously weren’t smokers <em>repeatedly</em> bummed cigarettes. Look, I don’t begrudge you the occasional smoke. Here, have one. But you know those <em>other</em> people. “Mind if I grab another one. I’ll get you back later.” They’d work the room through out the night, cobbling together half a pack of free cigarettes. Then, maybe once every six months they’d buy a pack and let you have two and consider it all even.

Bums. Common bums. That’s what they were then. And that’s what that dude was this morning.

Okay. I’m done shaking my fist and screaming at you to get off my lawn. Just had to get that out of my system.

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