Thank you for NOT smoking


A sticker on an apartment building in Abou Romaneh, Damascus. We still can't figure out exactly what it's trying to say (but we don't think it involves pot).

I've been feeling guilty lately for a silly reason. There is a situation that often arises when we're taking a taxi: the driver is already smoking when we get in the cab, or he starts to light up shortly thereafter. The smell of cigarette smoke is disgusting to me, not to mention less than healthful for baby Miriam. So we always politely ask the driver to stop smoking or, if we catch him in time, to not light up in the first place. We figure since we're paying for the ride, we can at least have a say about what kind of air we'll be breathing for the duration.

The times I feel guilty is when I don't catch the driver in the first stages of lighting-up-ness, and only realize he's smoking when a puff of smoke blows in my face. Then I have to ask him to throw away a perfectly good cigarette that he has only barely been able to enjoy (which begs the question whether cigarettes are ever good or can ever really be enjoyed, but that's another subject). I had to do this last night on the way home from a World Cup game and I felt so bad.

Later, I told Jeremy how sad I was that the taxi driver had to waste a cigarette, and he said that they can just put it out and light it up again later. For my conscience's sake, I hope this is the case.

Also on a cigarette-related note: A nickname for the Gulf Arabs who come here for the summer is, apparently, "Marlboros." They say it's because the white golubiya-clad males are all one color until their heads, making them look like cigarettes. I wouldn't have thought of that myself, but now that they mention it...
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