"Few people on this planet knows what it is to be truly despised. Can you blame them? I earn a living fronting an organization that kills 1200 people a day. Twelve hundred people. We're talking two jumbo jet plane loads of men, women and children. I mean, there's Attila, Genghis... and me, Nick Naylor. The face of cigarettes, the Colonel Sanders of nicotine."
One of the many quotes from a great film, Thank You For Smoking. If you haven't seen it yet, do so. You'll laugh. A lot.
I'm not a smoker, and never have been. I find it a vile habit. That said, I also find just as vile, if not more, the tactics of the anti-smoking lobby. I'm convinced that there are some in that lobby who'd love to pass a law allowing anyone seen smoking to be shot on sight. What, you think I'm kidding?
Here in Canada, they've been at it again, increasing the size of cigarette warnings on the packages. Come on. You think anyone who smokes has no idea about the danger of smoking? They know. They just don't care. And being heavy handed about it isn't going to change them. Showing pictures of rotting gums, blackened lungs, and dying people will not change a smokers' mind.
Well, I'm not actually here to talk about smoking today. At least not directly. Some years ago one evening, I was walking through my home city. I was passing by a convenience store, and two teen boys were out front. One of them asked if I'd buy him cigarettes. He had cash in his hands, a hundred dollars. He wanted it by the carton.
The fine, incidentally, for buying cigarettes for minors is in the thousands, by the way. It's considered a crime. I've had teens ask me to buy cigarettes before and since; maybe it's the fact that I look so disreputable. I looked at him, looked at the store, noticed how much of the window was covered over by banners and posters.... and got an idea. How hard would it be for them to keep an eye on what was happening inside? I took the money, walked inside, strode right up to the cashier, and asked if there was a back door.
He nodded, and asked what this was about. I simply replied that I wanted to teach the two out front a lesson. The cashier smiled; he told me they had already tried buying earlier. He told me that the back door led out to an alley, and from there, I'd be on my own.
So, off I went. Out the back, through the alley, and among a warren of back streets that I knew quite well as it was. I got onto a bus, a hundred dollars extra on me, and went downtown, caught a movie.
I wonder to this day how long it would have taken those two brats before they came into the store, looking desperate... and finding out that the guy who they'd sent in had taken their cash and left. I'd say five minutes.
It just goes to show you. Never trust a stranger with your cigarette money. Especially when they look disreputable.