Not an entirely unique thing to Portland, or this country, but definitely a bona fide problem. If you chose to destroy yourself $.20 at a time, you want to ENJOY a sweet, sweet tar-filled cig. Whether you chose to walk downtown, pound a tall boy of Pabst in your favorite dive bar or smoke in your car, hearing the dreaded phrase “Spare a cig?” is bound to happen. Countless times people will holler at you to ensure they have your attention. It won’t even matter if you are smoking whilst driving, because they’ll just walk right up to you.
How does this path to rejection begin? Someone with a distinct view of your grey hue will begin to walk in your direction. Here is the ensuing cig bum exchange:
Cigarette Bummer – Hey buddy, I was wondering if I can bum a smoke from you by chance?
Cigarette Smoker – Oh, no, sorry
Cigarette Bummer – Seriously? (or some other smart alec response)
Now, if this was “Choose Your Own Adventure,” let’s say you do bequeath that person a cigarette. You are now labeled in the bar as “the guy over there bummed me the cigarette, you can ask him.” Coincidentally, you can point to someone else in the bar and use this exact phrase as your own deflection to thwart future bummers.
Nevertheless, nice guys do finish last in the quest for nicotine. It comes down to this. Portlanders believe that they are living in a city full of nice people. This level of niceness can be achieved only by giving to others that which you actually pay for. On the flip side, bummers know Portlanders have a hard time telling others”No”. We left our surly Eastern cities for greener, nicer, Northwest pastures. My advice to you, “Just say No.”*
*This slogan was created and championed by former First Lady Nancy Reagan