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Observation: Incompatible perspectives

I recently took up smoking (not really, but for the sake of the story). The stress at work has been getting to me and I needed an excuse to go outside every other hour. I work with a slightly older guy (late 30s) whom I get along with and admire as a person and colleague. One day downstairs, while he was coming in to work, he saw me smoking. We were on cordial terms but since that day, when he stopped to have a cigarette with me, we’ve been getting closer as friends. Now whenever he wants a smoke, he asks me if I’d like to come along, and I, to oblige him and grateful for the agreeable company, go along with him.

One weekend he invited me to his house for dinner. I would be meeting his wife and children for the first time. After introductions we have dinner. There are other guests there whom I meet and speak with. Toward the end of the night, I’m the last guest remaining. My host invites me outside for a cigarette. His wife, of course, knows about his habit, but mine comes as a surprise to her. In half jest and half seriousness (such is my take, for who am I to know?) she remarks “You’re being a bad influence on the boy.”

Now here’s where my observation starts. From her perspective, she’s making an innocuous statement about what she observes and feels toward it. Perhaps she thinks back to her youth and reminisces upon the time when such habits take hold of a person, and out of the goodness of her heart, she wants me to not get addicted. Maybe she said it to lighten the mood and get a chuckle out of us. From my host’s perspective, he didn’t get me addicted to anything, but now he starts feeling bad that he’s encouraging me to do a bad thing. And since he started smoking when he was my age, he also wishes I wouldn’t make the same mistake he did. Now for my perspective: I wonder, who is this woman to call me a boy? Who does she think I am to get so easily influenced by just anyone, and of what concern is it to her what I do or don’t do? I’ve met her tonight for the first time in my life, and she’s talking to me like she’s my mother! At the same time I feel for the host because he’s been put in a tight situation. He’s not to blame, but he’s feeding my habit. Will this affect our friendship at work? Will we still take smoking breaks? Is he going to act weird next time he needs a smoke, will he sneak out on his own?

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