The cul-de-sac along the side of the Goldsmith building had once held a condenser which had helped keep the loading dock cool even in the most blistering summer heat. With the new AC system located on the roof of the expansion added in 1997, the fenced-in area had become something very different.

A refugee camp.

Dr. Maarten, from the Department of Biology in abutting Peter Hall, knocked on one of the two wooden gates in the cul-de-sac wall. Both gate and wall were easily nine feet high and built from faded but sturdy pine.

An eyeball appeared at a knothole in the gate. “Password.”

“$5.75,” Maarten replied.

Whispers behind the pine. Dr. Maarten hoped he’d gotten the password right; it did fluctuate day by day, after all.

The door swung open. “You’re clean, come on in.”

Maarten gratefully joined the circle of other PhDs, graduate students, and other Southern Michigan University personnel who were already there. He pulled a battered carton of Marlboros–$5.75 a pack according to the sign at the Gas n’ Gulp just off campus–and lit a fresh coffin nail. Such was the lengths to which SMU’s campuswide ban on smoking had driven people. Someone had told Maarten that intelligent people like professors and lecturers should be smart enough to know better than to smoke; Maarten’s first instinct had been to punch that person in the face, since the nicotine content of his blood had been particularly low that day.

Another knock at the front gate. Maarten, as the most recent arrival, had gate duty. He peeked through the knothole and saw only a blue jacket.



That was the price of cigarettes in New York City, not Michigan; Maarten knew immediately thanks to blog posts and colleagues from the Big Apple that assumed their vice tax burden was shared by all.

As he pondered what to do, Maarten saw a flash of silver through through the hole. “It’s a raid!” he cried. “Cheese it!”

The front gate opened with a bang as the assembled smokers fled through the back. DPS officers swarmed into the smokers’ refugee camp, handcuffs ready, pepper spray and tasers in hand. The smokers tried to flee into the narrow allwyways between buildings, only to be confronted by mounted officers bearing down on them with nets and truncheons.

Only a few managed to escape the sweep, the rest being led back to the station in chains.

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