For the past few weeks I’ve been reporting on one Virginia lady’s struggle against antismokers on her housing block (see here and here). She’d written to both me and Michael McFadden in growing despair, as there had been a petition by the antismokers to get her evicted.. Michael came up with all sorts of suggestions of what she might do. All I could think of doing was to use my blog to tell the world about her plight.
Anyway, a few days ago she told us that she was been called in to see the managers of the foundation that owns the housing block. And she was absolutely dreading the prospect. I emailed her a couple of days ago to tell her I was keeping my fingers crossed for her (because that was about all I could think of doing). It was all looking very, very bleak.
But last night I got this email from her (reproduced with permission, and slightly edited to remove names):
Dear Michael and Frank –
Just got in from the meeting with the corporate liaison and building manager…
and – shock of shocks – it went VERY WELL.
BOTH OF THEM WERE ON MY SIDE!
(excuse me while I faint).
Apparently they have been meeting with people, and groups of people, all day.
The group of antis/bullies was so irrational and out of control and so obviously pissed at me for complaining about loud prolonged parties in my hallway that they were basically told to stuff it. (not in so many words, but you get the picture). When they started complaining about my cigarette smoking and the odor going through the vents and under doors and all through the hallways, they were told by both the liaison and our chief maintenance person that this is impossible because each apartment is completely self-contained, and the construction of the building is such that no odor at all, let alone smoke, can pass from one apartment to the other. And if they catch a whiff of cig smoke in the hallway, well, too bad – it’s no different than a whiff of perfume, or cooking odors, and no one complains about those.
THIS WAS SO AMAZING TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!
When the antis/bullies were asked why they only complained about MY smoke, when there were other smokers here, the reply was that I smoke a lot more than the other smokers. When confronted on how they knew that, they had no answer – because they have NO IDEA how much or how little I smoke! :) So that complaint of theirs was totally and promptly tossed aside by the liaison.
I’m still in a state of disbelief. I would think I’d dreamed it all, except my mental health support person was with me and he’s confirmed that what was said was indeed said. :) :)
He also told me that although I was visibly nervous (shaking), I was quite articulate about the bullying/harassment that’s been directed towards me since this all started. I guess I was, since the liaison believed every word I said (possibly because I was rational and not screaming and yelling and exaggerating like the bullies she’d spoken to earlier). Everyone in the group of people who have been harassing me has received a warning. Three warnings, and they’re out. And there will be, she assured me, NO RULE IN ANY OF THE FOUNDATION’S BUILDINGS banning smoking in one’s own apartment. Yes, the antismoking petition was sent directly to HUD, but HUD sent it right back to the Foundation and basically said, “You deal with it.”
Today, smoking residents came out victorious. :)
THERE IS HOPE!
We were all amazed and delighted.
I just hope that’s the end of it.
I’d like to think that I helped out a bit here, but really all I’ve done is use my blog to tell a few people what was happening: MJM was way, way more constructive than I was.
But I think that if there’s a lesson to be drawn from this episode, it’s that there are still a lot of reasonable and compassionate people in the world, and that not everybody has been converted into antismoking busybodies. And it looks like a few of those reasonable and compassionate people were managers at the Foundation which owned this housing unit.
In fact, I’d like to suggest that that there are a lot more reasonable and compassionate people everywhere in the world than there are zealots and fanatics. And that as zealotry and fanaticism mounts, a great many ordinary people hate what they see happening, and they set their faces against it.