Friday, April 01, 2011


I smoked a pack a day for 30 years. I started out smoking Raliegh's, they came with a coupon on the back you could save up for valuable gifts, and it was the foulest smelling cigarette ever made. They really stank up an elevator; this was back in the day you could smoke anywhere, anytime. In line in a grocery store or looking through clothes racks at JC Penny's, there were no smoking regulations, it didn't matter.
For proof of this you need only look at the picture above, taken in the "Smoking Area" at my High School. My kids are astounded that cigarette smoking was part of the curriculum at LD Bell High School.
I even had a little saying too, that went like this:
"There are times that you need a cigarette, and there are times that you need a Raleigh"
"When would that be?" you might ask. Times like these.

It seemed mandatory to smoke a pack a day, and for 30 years I never varied from the 20 cigarettes that come in a pack by more than 3 butts either way. I could be drinking, drugging, fishing, sleeping, have Double Pneumonia, it didn't matter; I still smoked just about 20 cigarettes a day.
That's why it was a strange thing a few years ago when I looked up one day and became aware that I had only smoked half a pack this last 24 hours.. And then a week later I found that instead of having smoked my mandatory pack a day, this pack in my hands was at least 48 hours old with squares to spare.
A few months later I found that a pack of cigarettes was lasting me a week, and when I lit one up it tasted, in the words of George Carlin, "like crap", and after a few drags I was done. I'd make sour face and snuff the son-of-a-bitch out. I began to sense that I was losing interest in smoking, as if my body and mind were rejecting cigarettes because I was making no effort to quit and yet it was starting to seem like I didn't smoke at all, with no cravings or nicotine fits.

I woke up one morning without cigarettes, and determined to get a pack ASAP. I got home from work later that day and still hadn't bought a pack of cigarettes. Finally at 10:00 that night  I walked across the street and dropped a five-spot on the counter and walked away with a pack, a pack that I forgot to open when I got home and did not open till sometime the next day. Later that month I realized the half pack sitting on my dresser had been there for three weeks. I threw it in the trash.

Somehow God had taken cigarettes away from me. I think maybe they were about to kill  me, those cigarettes, but not until after they made me really sick first, and some Higher Power within me or without me had intervened.
I can't help it if I'm lucky.
Its been 3 years now, and I still wheeze a little when I breathe.

Smoking. I sure don't miss it one bit, and if I figure up the dollar figure on what I've saved the last 3 years its about $4,500 give or take.
You know what cracks me up? Seeing an Executive in a 3 piece suit probably makes 6 figures standing alone outside his office building blowing smoke rings with a look of supreme concentration on his face like he's really doing something.
He ain't doin' diddly-shit, 'cept standing in freezin' drizzle or scorching heat slavin' away suckin' a butt, and the minute he gets back to his desk up on the 16th floor, he's gonna want another one. 
Either way he's missin' out.
You can't get a Raleigh anywhere anymore.


Kim said...

We used to say "its light up time. If you ain't got em bum em cuz its light up time." My deliverance from ciggies is quite like yours. The desire was just gone. That was nine years ago. I think addicts who have been released from an addiction are among the few who can attest to the existence of miracles.
You're right that Raleighs we naaaaasty. The equivalent of drinking Rye whiskey.
Thanks for another delightful trip into your past Mr BH.

Martijn said...

Same here (what Kim said). The 3-piece suited executive smoking outside while freezing winds are rushing through their ribs is a wonderful image.

Too bad my own boss is such an asshole that he just doesn't care about the smoking laws, nor about my health, so he just continus to smoke inside, the bastard...

Hey Steve. Keep strong!

AnitaNH said...

I was going to leave a comment on the post that linked to your credit card collection story but now I can't find it. I wonder if that is still true about the auto-dialers not being able to hang up first. You can bet I'm going to test that theory on the next rude sales person that interrupts my day!

Good for you on the smoking! (and I must say you were a cute one back in high school)

bulletholes said...

Kim, I've heard of a few people that seemed to have "just stopped" the way we did, but not many.
Martijn, do you suppose those guys know how stupid they look?
Anita, i'll put it back up tomorrow maybe. Sometimes I try to do posts frommemory and then check my facts after I posted and find I was either mixed up or just plain crazy.

Dave Renfro said...

Aren't you also playing tennis and bowling and getting cracked in the clavicles by softballs too? These are all activities which require breathing.

It's funny: At work, they thought they were doing something really progressive by pouring a sidewalk and a concrete slab some distance from the plant so they can move the smoke shack away from the entrance to the building. They were quite proud of themselves for taking such bold action. Then I pointed out that the alcoa plant I used to work at went completely tobacco free. We weren't even allowed to smoke or chew in our cars; we had to drive off premises (I did not smoke so I stayed in the break room eating sugary snacks). That was ten years ago, and no one quit his job over it. Several people did quit smoking though!

Kim said...

we have a similar no smoking policy that requires people travel about a quarter of a mile away to smoke because our campus extends so far in every direction, but people have figured out how to work around it, and the staff has kind of developed a "live and let die" attitude.

SL said...

I try to keep quiet on this subject because I am pretty rabid about not smoking (yes, I am an ex-smoker) and really, no one wants to hear it. What I do want to say is...this is a great post and I am very happy that you quit smoking.