(For your entertainment, from the China files - Written October 22, 2004)
Recently one of the staff at the high school was helping me with the fax machine in the office while puffing away on a cigarette. The small room was obviously a favorite spot for faculty to come and have a cigarette break, as evidenced by the overflowing ashtrays on the desk. The no smoking signs posted everywhere in the school must be just a suggestion...
Shortening my life span by inhaling second-hand tobacco isn't one of my preferred pastimes. But my cigarette-puffing buddy apparently thought my dramatic hacking and coughing meant that I wanted to join him in smoking a cancer stick. So he said something to me in Korean and then pulled out a big box of cigars from a desk drawer and graciously offered me one. It was a red package with gold lettering, and it looked pretty impressive.
I guess I should have felt honored to be offered such a gift. But even if I had been tempted to smoke a stoagie with my non-English speaking co-worker, I think I would have resisted the temptation after reading the big white label pasted on the bottom half of the box that proclaimed in bold black letters:
Needless to say, I politely declined.