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The cockroaches I could stand. The mice too. But in the last couple of weeks, a new type of vermin has invaded my third-floor apartment: the smoker downstairs.
I’m not the kind of reformed smoker who’s absurdly sensitive to a whiff of tobacco smoke. Truth be told, I’m the kind of reformed smoker who’s often tempted to bum a Marlboro, especially after a few beers.
But the atmosphere in my apartment has become noxious. When the multiple-pack-a-day man downstairs lights up, the fog wafts up through chinks in the floors and fills my space. When I open a closet, I’m hit with a blast. I wake up in the morning with a sore throat and a burning nose as if I spent the evening in bar and went to bed in a North Carolina trailer park.
In the lingo of anti-smoking zealots, smoke flow from dwelling to dwelling is called “seepage” and for now, it seems, there’s nothing a renter can do about it, aside from buying an air filter and waiting for their chain-smoking neighbor to die from emphysema.