20 October 2010


The number of cigarette butts I counted on my way off the platform at the Long Branch train station the other day. By no means did I make any attempt to get a comprehensive count; those were just the ones I saw between exiting the train and walking off the end of the platform.

According to the train and station crews, it's up to the local police to enforce the non-smoking laws at NJ Transit train stations. (So why aren't station agents calling the police about violators?)

I called the Long Branch police department, where a very nice-sounding dispatcher said she'd check, but she thought it was Transit police, and not local police, who were responsible for this.

(I've never seen a transit police officer anywhere outside NYC or Newark. Have you?)

And then, on the platform last night, I pointed out the no-smoking sign to a smoker standing under it.

"I'm just checking the schedule," he said. "And anyway, it's not going to hurt you if I smoke here."

"I'm just breathing," I said. "And I'm asthmatic."

A lot of things about this bother me. Here's one: Why do I feel compelled to identify myself as ill (disabled? invalid?) by way of excusing my protests about someone else's smoking? Why not just leave it at, "I'm breathing"?

(Week eight, by the way, of taking public transit to campus at least once a week. This week: three round trips. I always think the evening bike ride home is going to be tiring, but it always turns out to be a lovely quiet spin along the river with lights on the bridges and in Brooklyn reflecting off the water.)