Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Bahrry and Smoking
Ahh, Bahrry. After posting my last entry, a friend excitedly said, "I'm so excited that your blog has reached the era of Bahrry!" and I have to say, I am too. Bahrry was, as you'll all soon discover, by far my most ridiculous roommate (even compared to the one who caused me bodily injury). So today we'll start with our first topic of conversation: Bahrry and Smoking.
As you may remember, Bahrry sent me an e-mail before I moved in, but after I'd been offered the apartment, with a list of various things to be aware of about the apartment. One of those little things was the fact that Bahrry "smoked out the window near [his] desk at times." I replied that I was fine with that as long as it didn't smell up the apartment. I wasn't anticipating there being too much of a problem, given how large the apartment was. I've included a schematic to illustrate how easy it would be to keep smoke contained in this lovely brownstone floor-through, if one chose to be considerate:
Now that you're fully acquainted with our layout, the story may begin. The day after I moved in, a Monday, I spent the day teaching summer school and grabbed some take-out for dinner. It was a beautiful July evening -- not too much humidity, sunny, and clear. I was eating dinner in the living room, watching TV and taking in the sunset (we could see the Statue of Liberty!) when Bahrry arrived home from work. He sat right down at his desk and lit up a cigarette. He made no attempt to lean even close to the window, nor did he seem to care that I was eating just feet away from him. I didn't know what to do with myself. I was stunned (not to mention nauseated), so I just poked around at my food, declared myself finished, and retreated to my room.
Most of the rest of my night was spent unpacking and debating what to do about Bahrry and the smoking. I knew that I needed to be direct about it, but I really hate being confrontational and I didn't really want to start my second day in the apartment making a rule about something. On the other hand, I took Bahrry at his word when he said he "smoked out the window at times," and I felt that he should have stuck with that. I never would have moved in had he said "I smoke in the living room regardless of whether there are non-smoking roommates eating dinner present."
Later that night Bahrry decided to wash dishes (more on how rarely that happened later). Apparently, smoking is something one can do while washing dishes. Who knew? In fact, it's practically essential to the dish-cleaning process, seeing that the smoke wafted into my room for a good twenty minutes . . . even after I closed the door. I resolved to talk to Bahrry . . .tomorrow.
Tomorrow came and I didn't feel any more comfortable talking to Bahrry about the smoking, but I also didn't really want to have to keep just trying to avoid the smoke. So I went and talked to him. I asked nicely if he could try to keep the smoke actually out the window because I could smell it in my room and it really bothered me so I'd appreciate it if he made an effort to keep others from smelling it. Later I found a scarf at the crack in my door, which Bahrry had, somewhat considerately, put there so that the smoke wouldn't seep in through the crack under the door. Apparently actually blowing the smoke out the window or going outside was too difficult for him.
A couple of days later I was in my room with the door open and I thought I smelled smoke. At first I thought I might be crazy, but I went to investigate and Bahrry was just sitting in the living room smoking. This time I just went right up to Bahrry and confronted him: "We need to talk about the smoking. When you e-mailed me and told me that you 'sometimes smoke out the window by your desk' I was OK with that because I thought you meant sometimes when the weather was bad, and that all the smoke went out the window. Since I've been here you've smoked in the kitchen, in the living room while I was eating dinner, and now I can smell it all the way down the hall in my room. If you'd been honest with me, we wouldn't be having this conversation because I wouldn't have moved in here. Smoking is a deal breaker for me, so I don't know what we're going to have to do, but I don't want to have to smell it anymore."
Bahrry was a bit taken aback. I really don't think he thought I had it in me to be assertive about it. Bahrry, for all of his faults, wasn't stupid or unaware, he just didn't give a shit. The look on his face when I told him that "we" needed to find a solution to the smoke problem was not one of bewilderment like those I used to get from Dirty Artie when problems arose, but one of surprise, like, "No one has ever called me out on being such a dick before. Now I don't know what to do with myself." What he did do was mutter something about how he didn't know I could smell it my area while halfheartedly opening the window a smidge more.
I left for Tajikistan and Turkey the day after this smoking discussion. I'm sure Bahrry spent those three weeks I was gone smoking up a storm. When I got back it was marginally better. When I wasn't in the living room he would still smoke in there, but come back to my door and put the scarf in the crack. When I was in the living room he found other places to smoke, like the fire-escape. He did have one funny squirmy moment about the smoking:
We were having a bit of hurricane-related rain when Bahrry came home from work to find me in the living room. He sat on the couch for a while and tried to carry on a conversation, but kept looking out the window at the gale-force wind. Then he'd get up and pace for a little, all the while keeping an eye on the weather. I could tell he needed to smoke -- he was practically shaking for a fix. Eventually he paced himself right out of the room to go smoke in the stairwell.
Well, that's what you get for being a jackass. As a wise friend told me at the time, "situations like this are the exact moments that the 'sometimes in the house' standard is made for: hurricanes . . . blizzards . . . riots . . . "