She was suspiciously happy when she drove her car into the parking lot. She was practically bouncing up and down in her seat when I asked her if she were there to see the trees. I was glad to see someone so excited to walk the trail.
She was polite to me, answering my questions with yes, ma’am and no, ma’am.
She was concerned with the people in the car behind her, which included her passenger’s mother. She wondered if the mother had money to pay the parking fee, seemed ready to pony up if the folks in the other car had no cash.
She was acting like a really nice person.
She parked her vehicle near the front of the lot. All I had to do was turn my head, and I could see it. She and her passenger got out of her car and gave parking advice to the driver of the second vehicle.
I glanced over and saw a plume of smoke. My eyes followed the smoke to the cigarette, followed the cigarette to the mouth of the suspiciously happy woman.
I took a few steps closer to the smoking woman.
Excuse me, ma’am, I said. I have to tell you that smoking is only allowed in your car with the windows rolled up. The fire ban is very strict right now.
The woman wasn’t happy anymore.
She said something along the lines of Are you shitting me? She sounded angry.
Then she spat out, I have a five month old baby! I can’t smoke in the car!
Since 2008, it’s been illegal in California for adults to smoke in a car when people under 18 are present.
Maybe the once happy, now angry, woman was referencing that law, or maybe she was concerned about the infant’s health. Or maybe she was just using the baby as an excuse because she didn’t want to smoke in the car with the windows rolled up. In any case, she seemed really mad.
Well, you could not smoke, I told her mildly. Or you could sit in the other vehicle (I gestured to the small pickup the passenger’s mother had arrived in) to smoke. Or you could take the baby out of your car before you get in to smoke. (The passenger could have supervised the baby while the driver sat in the car and smoked.)
She’d quit listening to me. She was pissed off because she couldn’t have her cigarette when and where she wanted it.
I went back to my chair. I wasn’t glad I’d ruined her day, but I was glad I’d stopped her from adding to the fire danger.
Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/dirty-addiction-cigarette-unhealthy-46183/.