I can remember the first time I decided that cigarettes were evil; I was probably five or six years old at the time we were on one of our regular annual visits to Hong Kong where we would stay at my aunt’s flat and in the evenings we’d watch whatever Canto-drama was on.
In this particular episode there was a dead body with a woman crying over it. One of the baddies lit a cigarette, took a whiff, discarded it and drove off abandoning the crying woman and presumed dead man. Then the cigarette lit a trail leading to the dead body, which was then engulfed in flames causing the woman to jump back screaming in a fit of hysterics.
For a while I genuinely believed that if a cigarette made contact with the human body that they would actually be consumed by a tobacco infused inferno and eventually die. Painfully.
However as I grew older I came to realise that that theory was rubbish. But anyway I digress.
Admittedly I have no objections to people smoking, but you cannot deny that seeing people trying to order a Chinese takeaway, cigarette in hand whilst trying to conform to the smoking ban can be an amusing spectacle.
The smoking ban was introduced in 2007 roughly two years after I started working at the takeaway and I admit when I first started I took much glee in seeing customers trying to make an order whilst conforming to the ban.
Like most takeaway food outlets our shop counter is conveniently placed some distance from the door (about two-three metres). The amount of amusement I used to get seeing people wedged in between a doorway, left-hand with a cigarette on one side of the door with the other half indoors but never knowing if they should come in or not and shouting across to the other side of the room:
“Yeah I’d like a chicken chow mein, an egg fried rice, a curry sauce, a bag of chips and a bag of prawn crackers… I’ll pay you in a minute I’ve just lit me fag.”
In the period before and just after the smoking ban I used to be very anti-smoking *coughlungcancercough* and I used to be one of those annoying people who would cough very loudly every time someone smoked in front of me or if someone who was smoking walked past me.
This was a habit I had maintained for much of my early teenage years up until I was 18, where I spent a month in China surrounded by people who did smoke and people who smoked cigarettes with an unbelievable amount of nicotine and tobacco. As a result I became used to it but still maintain that it is a nasty habit.
It was also an annoying habit I employed when serving customers who smoked in front of me as I served them and sometimes if it was a particularly long order I would fake cough in between. Looking back it was incredibly childish but I was 16 at the time.
Nowadays people order first before popping out for a quick ciggie. Normally this would include a rice and/or noodle dish with a side order (most of the time it’s chips) a sauce and a bag of crackers if they fancy it. This would take about five minutes to get ready. By the time it comes out the poor person has barely had time to smoke half the cigarette and throws it away. Now that just seems a waste of money.