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73,000 cigarettes later, Moose quits smoking

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Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most people are about as happy as they let themselves be.”

Or, maybe he didn’t. Maybe the true author was the drunken homeless guy living in the White House’s tool shed and Lincoln never gave him the credit he so richly deserved. 

Much like anything else the government tells us, it’s probably less than accurate, more than likely a view askew and we’ll positively never know for sure. Plus, I found that quote on the Internet which, generally speaking, makes it about as easy to believe as my ex telling me she spent last night at the bingo hall. 

B-7, sweetheart. B-7.

Regardless, it’s a very good line and about as true as anything else because happiness, I believe, depends entirely on you. 

I used to be a used car salesman. 

No, really, I sold used cars. Not a euphemism. Six days a week for roughly two months I sat behind a desk and I lied directly into people’s faces.

Not to say I’m proud of it and, before I start getting hate mail from used car salesmen around the valley, please let me say that most are decent human beings looking for a fair deal and the means to feed their kids. However, as I:

A. Was not a very good salesman

B. Was selling a product which was equally (if not exponentially) as awful and,

C. Enjoyed eating food for dinner,

I resolved to sideline my moral compass for a time and continue being able to shop for groceries. 

I had no experience selling cars (or anything else) when I started the job, but as my boss at the time said, “Hey man, it’s not that hard … after all, there’s a (buttocks) for every seat.”

If you don’t get that joke, you are/have been that (buttocks).

But I digress. Where was I? Right … no experience selling cars. So, having no experience and lacking the willpower and intestinal fortitude to actually teach me anything himself, my boss “trained” me by locking me in the conference room and having me watch a DVD box set of “how-to-sell-used-cars” put together by a guy named Dick Zimmerman. 

His first name pretty much summed-up his persona. 

A former car salesman, Dick made a living making videotapes which taught soon-to-be scumbags how to sell cars to soon-to-be suckers. He even had a script he’d written which he guaranteed would work on just about everyone. 

The dude had it down to a science … to the point that he advised you should “Look at the wife when you’re talking numbers. Trust me on this, she is the bookkeeper of the household.”

Most of what he had to say was garbage that went in one ear and out the other, but there was one bit that stuck with me for years — the kind of sage wisdom you instantly commit to memory because you’re so shocked it came out of such a colossal (insert insult not fit for family-friendly publication here.)

And it went something like this:

“Now, if you’re a smoker, have a stock of mints on hand. If your customer is not a smoker, most of them will think poorly of you for smoking, making your sale harder to close.”

And then he dropped an atom bomb.

“Now, that’s not to say I don’t like smokers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I admire people who smoke cigarettes. Why? Because I’m going to spend the rest of my life wondering how I’m going to die. You? You’ve made a decision.”

Cue epic fireball-ish explosion of light and wonder followed by stunned silence. 

That small tidbit of wisdom stuck with me for years and years of being a smoker. Sometimes I’d wear it as a badge of honor, sometimes I’d bury it at the bottom of the ashtray, but it was always there and I could never shake it. 

Until last month when, finally, I decided that not knowing how I was going to die was far more preferable to frantically looking for the remote and changing the channel whenever one of those gnarly stop-smoking ads came on the television. 

“Most people are about as happy as they let themselves be,” Abraham Lincoln (probably) said.

“Smokers are idiots with a death-wish,” said Dick.

“Stop smoking,” said the T.V.

And since I can finally, after 10 years of smoking, fill my lungs with a breath of fresh air and yell at the top of my voice, I say to them all, “You’re gosh-darned right!”

(See what I mean about family-friendly? I wanted to cuss a lot more in this piece, but they wouldn’t let me. Y’all don’t know how lucky you are to have the Valley Journal in this area. Seriously. Were it not for them, cussing former-smokers like me would be runnin’ amok.)



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