So this morning I had to go to hospital for an appointment. As most will probably know, attending hospital is never the epitome of the carpe diem experience, especially at 9 o’clock in the morning. Anyhow, as I am usually found to be of the disposition somewhere between grumpiness and all-out nuclear, I decided to try and be pleasant for a change. Pleasant. Me. Fucking ‘pleasant’. But I thought I’d give it a go.
I managed about 40 minutes. That’s because there is always someone who will piss you off at a hospital. And my theory didn’t disappoint. After my appointment was done, I had to see the receptionist, the one who had been put in charge of meeting and greeting the public and booking further appointments. To say she wouldn’t be earning any extra points for being ‘People Person of the Day’ is a fucking understatement. She was positioned somewhere between Vicky Pollard, ‘Am I bovvered’ Lauren, and Iain Duncan Smith.
I’ll just let that image hang there for a second.
Once my communications with the receptionist from Hell were completed, and managing to refrain from raising my voice (just an eyebrow), I started to make my way towards the exit, quite cheery that it hadn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. Huzzah! Hooray! I’m not the ogre
I’ve always known I am people paint me to be! I can actually be civil in the face of hostility! Well ‘ark at me.
My drama teacher always said I was presumptuous.
Outside, whilst waiting for my lift, I lit up a celebratory cigarette. I smoke menthol cigarettes [momentary pause while you swear/curse/call me a dick, etc] Finished? Great. I’ll continue. So there I was, basking in my civility achievements and dreaming of being the next global peace ambassador, when a gentleman walked past. I noticed he kept staring at me with a look of oddness in his eyes. He started to walk off, stopped, turned and came up to me. I have tried to recall the conversation as accurately as possible word-for-word, anyway here is it how it went:
(Me): “Uhm, yes?”
“You make me SICK”
“How DARE you. Where’s your respect for God’s sake?”
“Ok. We’ve established I make you sick. You’re not the first and I dare say you’ll be the last. Are we going to leave the pleasantries there or would you care to elaborate on what I’ve done, besides share air, that’s pissed you off?”
“Smoking that grass, or ash, or whatever you call it. Outside a hospital. Have you no shame?”
Now I was really perplexed.
“What the bloody hell are you going on about?”
“THERE! IN YOUR HAND! THAT WHITE THING. DON’T TELL ME IT ISN’T DRUGS. I KNOW IT IS. YOU CAN’T FOOL ME”
Ah. Penny drops. Menthol are white, so while I’m holding the cigarette towards the inside of my hand and being careful not to engulf passers-by with the smoke from my own nicotine stick (because I’m a courteous smoker, even in open air), I realise that it could probably look like I am smoking a roll-up of some kind.
“Ah, right. Well, these are menthol cigarettes. Not only are these menthol cigarettes, but if I was smoking drugs then you would have caught the smell of it due to it being very, very windy. So while I can understand your concern and admire you for approaching the issue, I do not admire the way you addressed it. As it happens, you’ve caught me on a good day. Can we just agree that a mistake was made here and go on our separate ways?”
“No. Because I don’t believe you”
So I get out my packet of menthol cigarettes to prove to this man (and also the growing numbers of onlookers who just happened to be milling around outside/looking for something in their bag/pretending to be on the phone) that I wasn’t smoking weed/ash/the mastermind behind an international drugs cartel – but was in fact just smoking a cigarette and trying to mind my own fucking business. I was also losing my patience. Rapidly.
“You may say that what is inside your cigarette packet are cigarettes. You can say anything you want.”
This guy was really starting to get on my rack.
“Look. I really, really don’t want to stand here arguing with you. This is a menthol cigarette, okay? I’m sure if you questioned every person who came out of that door, you may just find someone else who either smokes them or is aware of them and hates them or at least knows what they bloody look like. I don’t appreciate people smoking drugs in public, especially in places like this where this a chance small children or babies will be at smoke-level” (Note: I wasn’t just saying this stuff for shits and giggles, I genuinely do feel this way and have got into many an argument in the past when my son was small).
Ok. I am really trying now. Really trying to A) Make this twat see sense and B) Not get myself arrested.
Moron was having none of it.
“Oh, I see. You think you’re smart”
“In case you have forgotten, Margaret Thatcher is being buried today. So instead of thinking about your roll-ups, how about you think about what a fantastic woman she was and what she did for this country?”
He wasn’t wearing anything red but he might as well have been.
“You know what? As much as I would love to continue this tête-à-tête, please, for the good of mankind and my blood pressure, just fuck off”
Which is probably what I should have just said in the first place.