Aug. 17, 2012
Smoking Isn't Okay, But Junk Food Is?
A Herbie sent this email in:
"I was at a deli picking up some lunch with my buddies. As I waited for my veggie sandwich, one of my buddies had started a conversation with another customer. I am not sure what started the conversation, but the next thing I know my buddy points to me and tells her, "He's vegan." She looks at me and asks me if this is true, and I say, "Yes."
She then goes on to talk about how she is supporting an industry by eating meat, and so on. Then she makes two statements that I found sad. She tells my buddy, "Well, maybe that's why he is thin, and I am overweight." She then goes on to say, "I'll probably be on Lipitor, but oh well."
I just politely looked at her this entire time. What saddens me is not having a complete stranger hard time me about my dietary choices, but the fact she realizes she is overweight and will need meds soon to cure something caused by her food choices."
This story reminded me of an experience I had. I was in a gas station buying magazines for my flight later that day. The man in front of me asked for pack of cigarettes. The cashier had been eating a glazed doughnut before he and I walked up, and disgruntling put it down saying to the man, "you know those [pointing to the cigarettes] are bad for you, right? smoking will give you cancer." The man didn't respond, but all I could think was, how is it socially acceptable to make that kind of statement to a stranger especially when you consider what might have happened had I said something like, "You know that doughnut could lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity and possibly, cancer." Had I said that to her, I would be considered out of line, insanely rude. That kind of statement is not socially acceptable.
When I walked outside I heard the man retelling the story to his girlfriend, who was the smoker that wanted cigarettes. The girlfriend got really agitated and told her boyfriend she was going to walk inside and give that [name calling here] a piece of her mind. Her boyfriend kept saying, "it's not worth it baby, let's just go" and the girl would respond "who is she to judge me when she's not making good choices herself!"
A few hours later I was at the airport and my terminal happened to be next to a Burger King. I watched as they had a steady stream of customers and I wondered what would have happened if BK's cashier had made a comment or provided a "warning" about the food served the way the cashier did at the gas station.
Except that wouldn't happen. Why? You might say, well, because the cashier would be fired for disparaging a product, but isn't that exactly what the cashier did at the gas station? Or maybe "well, they can't, or people wouldn't buy the burgers" but the man still bought those cigarettes.
Why do you think it's socially acceptable to make a comment regarding smoking, but not regarding food?