As usual, I arrived at the airport terminal in Las Vegas about an hour before departure. Arriving early is a characteristic of Type A personalities - very time conscious and always early. Being early helps me avoid stress and I find it relaxing to simply wait, or read. But on this occasion I noted that my shoes needed a shine. I had no interest in feeding the slot machines so I settled into a two-person shoe shine stand for a few minutes of relaxation and pampering.
I reached for the newspaper and read about the annual rodeo which was a major event in town. Just as I was feeling tranquil, a cowboy-dressed fellow got up beside me for a boot shine. In an instant he pulled out a cigarette and lit up. He did this in spite of the no smoking signs that were prominently displayed along the concourse. Perhaps this was his deserved period of a "little pleasure", but as a pulmonologist who abhors smoking, I felt like confronting him about this indiscretion. But why raise my adrenalin? I had come to relax. My shine was over and I quickly paid the man and walked away. Then I heard the cowboy start to cough. Was he a Marlboro man, who was just enjoying one of "Life's Little Pleasures"? I worried about his future - had he ever been informed about the health hazards of smoking? I wanted to ask but respected his right to pursue his own pleasure. What is pleasure anyway? An indulgence to some and joy to others. I am not a moralist and I do believe in pleasure!
I'll be in touch next month
Thomas Petty, MD