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Friday, January 22, 2010
An Open Letter to the Minor I Told Off in Scipio
Dear Misguided Youth of America (well, not all the youth... just you, that kid that asked me to buy you cigarettes at the "Eagle's Landing" gas station on our way to St. George last night.)
You approached me as I was picking out a water bottle (since the H2O I packed had spilled all over the car. I know I know..."30 minutes on a treadmill, forever in a landfill.")
"Uh Ma'am?" You began. "Can you do me a favor? I left my ID back home, could you buy me some cigarettes?"
Oh wayward youth: you asked the wrong person to help you break the law.
"Absolutely not." I shook my head, and your eyes widened with confusion. "It's a terrible habit and it can kill you and..."
But you interjected "It's only killing me... it's only affecting me." Though I didn't let you finish...
"It's not only killing you, it puts toxins in the air and the second hand smoke affects me and my baby."
Your eyes looked as if they were going to pop out of your head...incredulous, your mouth dropped open wide and you starred at me as if I was crazy; then looked at your friends for some sort of validation regarding my sanity (or lack there of.) But I continued:
"It's a disgusting and terrible habit. It drains resources from our already depleted health care system, it's a burden on health care and it can give you cancer AND it can kill you. It's a selfish habit and you need to stop."
(Like most of America, I've apparently got Health Care on the mind.)
You mumbled something to your friends about 'picking the wrong person to ask' and probably added some derogatory comment about me... wasn't quite sure, didn't really care...
I paid for my water and let the ladies at the counter know you were a minor and trying to have someone buy you cigarettes illegally.
And I felt high and mighty, like I had stopped some sort of scandal...but then karma (and my conscience) caught up to me ...and I'd wished instead that I had told you that you were too young, with too much ahead of you to be wasting your time with something as ridiculous and habit forming as 'smokes.' That there are little kids -- your cousins, or maybe nieces and nephews that look up to you... and that your example (or lack there of) could make the difference in more lives than you know.
I wish, instead, that I would've reinforced that your whole life is ahead of you... and if you're asking your buddy (brother?) if you can get a PopTart for 89 cents (and he says, 'we really can't be spending a lot of money'), that smoking is probably not the most prudent financial decision at this juncture in your life. Maybe I wish I would've said that...
Or maybe I wish I just would've said, "No, I'm sorry. I care about you too much."
And left it at that.
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