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Smokers and Cell Phone Talkers - What a Mix!


Dear Laurie,

I read your book with intrigued fascination. It has helped things very much, but I had an experience today that I’d love to see you address: I was very tired, sitting in a lovely garden seat (no seats around for a couple of blocks away), quietly reading and finally comfortable, when a young woman came, sat down and began a loud cell phone conversation while facing me frontally. She was incensed when I asked for some quiet, and said she didn’t think she owed anyone any consideration.

It was heated, but I explained I came there first for quiet, and she later at least turned to the side to talk, which I endured. She then smoked a cigarette that was unpleasant. I had worked all day, too fatigued to move, and needed this break. It was nice when she left!

What say you on words for inconsiderate cellphone talkers and smokers?

You are very inspiring—part of the solution, not the problem! Thanks very much for all your helpful and meaningful work!
-Jill Z. Philadelphia


Dear Jill,

Thank you for contacting me. You handled the situation very well. The best idea is to explain the "why" behind what you are asking for (and you did just that). Koodos to you. Most people will reconsider their behavior when informed that they are making someone else uncomfortable. A rare few will argue, and others will exhibit the rude behavior with an even greater intensity.

Regarding smoking, when you are outside and there aren't any empty benches or tables, it is acceptable for a person to smoke near you. It is not enjoyable, but in the outdoors, smokers have the right to smoke. Now, they should be polite and look for the most secluded spot, but if they don't, then it is the non-smoker's responsibility to find a new spot. Of course, there are times when a polite smoker will ask, "Do you mind?" before lighting up. In that case, be honest and say, "Thank you for asking. Actually smoke does make me uncomfortable."

Warm wishes,
Laurie Puhn

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