Smokey

Today I hung out with an older coworker of mine. He is an experienced railroader who has been with the company as long as I have been alive- almost five decades. So I respect how he runs things and listen to his stories. Not many of his tales are of work. Most are of his family and experiences outside of there. I appreciate his tales and respect how he tells them.

I spent hours with him today. In doing so, I came home smelling like an ashtray. He smokes. A lot. I haven’t smelled like cigarettes in years. My father smoked regularly. And in the 70’s/80’s it wasn’t uncommon to be indoors or in a car with a child while you smoked. As a result, I took up smoking at around age 17.

I smoked for about 10 years off and on. There is hardly any pictures of me smoking. In fact, when my wife and I married, she requested that we do not have pictures of us smoking in case our children were to see them. The last time I smoked a cigarette was before my son was born. Over 16 years ago.

I have celebrated with a cigar on occasion since then. Not my favorite thing to do, so it’s only been about three times. I do not smoke any other things, as my world is already a trip as it is. Finding a picture of my indiscretions of the past is rare and I would be surprised if there are more than the two I have shared today.

But the smell of stale cigarettes on my clothes today brought back memories of long ago. I was unsure of what tale I wanted to share, if any, of smoking. So here’s a small tidbit.

When I was under the age of ten, my father would send me to the corner store to buy cigarettes. There was an age restriction of being sixteen in 1986, so I would be given note with a phone number to contact my dad, and I could buy a pack and bring it home. After a few times, the corner store owner began to know me and my father’s brand, so the note was unnecessary for a couple of years. That was when the age limit changed to 18 and the government cracked down on selling to minors.

Cigarettes and smoking have a different stigma than they once had. My coworker still smokes as of the 80’s and 90’s were relevant. A part of me looks to him as an uncle, and honestly he probably could’ve been a close family friend. He reminds me of the good aspects of my father. Plus my coworker has been known to dye his hair and mustache to look younger. He has a look of Burt Reynolds when he does this.

Hence the title of today’s blog- Smokey. Honestly, I think of how my father looked in the 80’s and believe this was also his attempt and being cool. Facial hair, a cigarette and a beer- that was the 80’s “Dad Look” and smell. No cologne needed as a haze of smoke would be around.

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