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The Quit Smoking Story, which I've related before on other TMF boards:

I smoked off and on for most of my life. My cousin Mac taught me how to smoke when I was about fifteen and staying with his family at their lake cabin that summer. At my peak I smoked between three and four packs of Pall Mall straights per day!

I actually considered smoking to be as much a hobby as a habit. I enjoyed visiting tobacco stores and trying foreign brands of cigarettes. I'd smoke a nice cigar on occasion, and even tried a pipe, but it was too much fussing for me.

One of the oddities about my smoking, which people still see fit to comment on even though I quit seven or eight years ago, is the way I used to keep my ashtrays. I always stacked the butts, smoked to nearly equal length, up in neat little piles like firewood. I just figured this was efficient, and posed the least risk of an unwanted ashtray fires, but everyone else found it fascinating. It became kind of a trademark, and people could always tell when I'd been around.

{Aside: When I was involved in covert activities I would abandon this practice, and even took the additional step of switching to Marlboros, which I would mark with an "X" on the filter end using my thumbnail.}

One morning on my way to the shop I stopped at a local gas station/convenience store and picked up my regular three packs of Pall Malls. I got to work, made a pot of coffee, and started some bookkeeping work on the computer. (This was in pre-internet days.) About twenty minutes into the day I tuned around to reach for the recently opened first pack of cigarettes, and just decided I didn't smoke anymore. As simple as that!

Of course, like everyone else who smokes, I'd though about quitting, and even had stopped smoking for months and years at a stretch since I'd been fifteen. I hadn't consciously considered it that morning though, or had any particular reason to choose that day. (I'm not even really sure what the exact date was, only that it was just prior to Labor Day.) The only thing I recall distinctly was remembering a story Old Joe Terzich had once told me.

Joe was retired from the mines and owned a corner grocery store in a small community where he also served as a Township Commissioner. When my family had our engineering business we handled various projects for the Township, so Joe would stop by our office every now and then. He was a nice guy, and a pretty good talker. My Dad was always happy if I would take care of bs'ing with Joe so he wouldn't lose a couple hours of work time. Since Joe liked to talk about money, politics and stock car racing I was happy to oblige.

Joe used to give me a bad time about my smoking, in fact he used to call me "Smokey". He was an ex-smoker himself. He had been a shovel runner in the mines, and that job entails plenty of down time waiting for the next truck or train car to load. This provided ample opportunities to have a smoke, and Joe had gone through several packs a day for most of his thirty years on the job. The story of how he had come to quit smoking is what I recalled that morning.

As Joe told it, he'd been mowing his lawn one evening when he spied his neighbor across the way also out doing some yardwork. Never one to pass up a chance to talk rather than work, Joe shut off his mower and set out across the street. In preparation for the conversation he reached into his shirt pocket for a cigarette and discovered his pack was empty. He never smoked again.

Since quitting myself I've had countless opportunities to relate this story, and it's surprising how many people who quit successfully had a similar experience. I've conclude that will power, sef-help groups, hypnotism, patches, gums and other gimmicks notwithstanding, it's either your day to quit smoking, or it isn't.

SB (and nope, I've never considered in since, and others smoking doesn't bother me at all.)
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When Life Gives You Lemons
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