On Sept. 14, my wife and I celebrated a notable event with dinner at one of Upper Saint Clair's loveliest and finest restaurants, a place which offers al fresco dining by a stream. It was an ideal night for outdoor dining, which is what we requested.
The weather was perfect and the setting peaceful, relaxing, and intimate until to our surprise, it was ruined by an individual at the next table (within four feet of us) who lit the first of several cigarettes she would enjoy throughout the evening.
I wondered if this inconsiderate person could have been acted without the consent of the restaurant in smoking, but then saw that she had a large ashtray which was obviously provided by the establishment, sanctioning the ability to smoke.
I know that this facility is co-owned by an individual who has a full-time position in the respiratory therapy field, which causes him to be intimately familiar with those who have committed slow suicide through smoking, destroying their lungs. I was incredulous that this restaurant, of all places, would be stuck in a bygone era, in which we failed to recognize the harm that cigarettes and secondhand smoke do to others.
I find it difficult to believe that in 2012, someone would have the audacity to smoke while essentially sitting next to diners whom it would be reasonable to conclude do not welcome the intrusion, but my primary beef is with the restaurant, which not only accommodates smokers over non-smokers outdoors, but which did not even warn us that sitting there could subject us to the rude and self-absorbed individual.
We quickly approached the hostess to request an inside table, and she was gracious, understanding, and apologetic. A distinguished couple that then was dining indoors next to us and which had seen us outside asked if we came in due to the cool temperature. We explained the situation, and they joined in our disgust over the unfairness of the outdoor area of the restaurant being devoted to the one smoker who had no compunction about ruining it for everyone else.
Close to 40,000 people that attend Pirates games at PNC Park when the event is sold out, a number which surely includes thousands of smokers, are somehow able to avoid indulging at least until they leave the ballpark, but our dining neighbor could not refrain for ninety minutes in consideration of others.
I hope the smoker and her party enjoyed their evening at the restaurant. At this establishment, she and her nicotine addiction come first; the heck with every other diner that did not wish to have a main course of first class carcinogen with their mushroom risotto and breaded zucchini.
As one with Libertarian underpinnings, I believe that an adult should generally have the ability to do whatever he or she wishes so long as their action does not have a detrimental effect on others. If one wishes to destroy their life and the lives of those who love them through smoking, go right ahead, but display a modicum of good manners and courtesy and leave me out of it, especially while I am eating.
I wonder how many readers of this article believe that state legislation which rendered most public places smoke-free should be repealed, that we should return to the era in which we were subjected to smoke-filled restaurants, offices, and retail establishments. I suspect that the number of individuals who would increase the prevalence of smoking in public facilities is infinitesimal.
At this restaurant, the doctrine of caveat emptor (which in this case, translates to "let the diner beware") should be kept in the forefront of one's mind.