I have a question:
At what point did the cigarette-smoking culture deem it unconditionally acceptable to beg for a cigarette from a complete stranger?
You just don’t see this with other habits.
We’ve all been in situations where we need to borrow something in a pinch. A pen, a screwdriver, jumper cables, etc. But cigarette smokers are in a different world. They’re all abiding by some sort of unsaid Golden Rule, which is really just an extension of the peer pressure they caved into back in the day.
Unlike other habits, “bumming a smoke” is integral part of the smoking lifestyle. It almost seems to be part of the fun, if there is such a thing. Perhaps it’s a chance for the smoker to bond with another person, to feel accepted, and to feel part of something bigger than themselves. This sense of community is what made smokers want to hang a cigarette from their lips in the first place.
But in most cases, it’s because the beggar is simply exploiting the unsaid Golden Rule, safe in the perception that he won’t be told to fuck off. You never see this type of predictable mooching with, say, ChapStick. Or beer. Or donuts. “Hey, great party, right? You don’t know me, but can I take a pull from your IPA?”
I don’t smoke cigarettes. It was a choice I made a long time ago. But I still get asked for a free cigarette as much as the next smoker. It’s annoying as all hell. If you need a cigarette that bad, then guess what? Even if I was a smoker, your problem ain’t my problem. Go buy your own. Or better, just suck it up and deal with not having one for the next fifteen minutes.