Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Secondhand fumes

Once I had reached the city by train yesterday, I switched to a tram to get to the other side of the city.  It was about 8:30am so the tram stop was packed with people and they all pressed into the tram.  Among the commuters were three Australia Post workers with trolleys of mail for delivery within the city.  How fantastic to see public transport being used in this way!

A couple of stops along an overwhelming chemical smell permeated.  I turned to see a bearded man with blue eyebrows and a bluish hue to his skin.  His blue tainted hands were tightly holding the neck of a plastic bag (also blue) and he swayed as he walked.  He was into chroming.

In the last couple of years I have come across many people who do this.  The smell is the first thing you notice, then the staining from the paint being inhaled - usually blue.  I'd never seen it until I noticed a man in my neighbourhood desperately sucking the fumes from  the plastic bag he held to his face as he walked along the street.

The man on the tram was keeping to himself, but the fumes were overwhelming.  I didn't really want to arrive high on paint at my first job of the year!  He sat down and then tried to strike up a conversation with the young blond woman from Australia Post.  She wasn't receptive and I could feel her wishing him away.

It's not illegal to use inhalants, but I wonder why it hasn't been outlawed on public transport like smoking has been?  Like cigarette smoke, the fumes from a chromer's plastic bag have an impact on the people around them and in a closed space like a tram with windows that do not open, it's sick making.

Perhaps outlawing something like chroming on public transport would require society to acknowledge that it happens in the first place.  Or would it be a further extension of what some people call the "nanny state"?  

What do you think?  Have you been in the vicinity of someone chroming?


  1. Yes, and it's awful. Fortunately the tram was fairly empty and they were sitting up the back, so I was able to go to the extreme opposite end of the tram to escape the fumes. I agree that it should be considered in a similar light to smoking on public transport, but the reality is that chroming changes they way people's brains work, and not for the better. They're very unpredictable. I wouldn't feel safe approaching someone chroming, and I don't think anyone else would either (including ticket inspectors). Police are probably the best-equipped. I know that there has been a bit of a crackdown at a local supermarket car park because people were chroming there. It's much harder when they are alone though.

  2. Very true Rose. I've had some other encounters with chromers (one lives in my block) and they are very unpredictable. Sad.