Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Christmas Grinch

The Christmas Grinch

My day job is selling smokes. Not just any smokes like your Grampa used to dreamily inhale at the end of a hard day but about 25 different brands in six or seven different forms. Premiums like the old standbys; Camel, Kool, Marlboro, Winston etc. and “discounted” brands with cute names like GPC, Ace, Doral and so forth. Every brand has Full Flavor, Light, Ultra Light, Menthol, Menthol Light, Menthol Ultra Light and each of these comes in King Size or “100” except in the case of Camels who are “99s” for who knows what reason and Marlboro, who really likes to mix it up with Marlboro “27s” and Marlboro “72”s. I don’t know why so don’t ask. We also have the old “non-filtered’ for the really tenacious old timers. Evidently it is a lot more costly to NOT put a filter on them as they are a lot more expensive.

All this tends to cause me to spend a good part of my working day looking blank, which seems to fit my personality these days.

We can no longer, according to the recent tobacco laws, sell the delicious peach, blackberry, cherry and grape flavored cigarettes so now we just put them in new packages and call them cigars. The recent tobacco laws also caused a tremendous hike in the prices we get for our smokes. The new taxes were significant and of course there is the tobacco companies’ own little fee for “pain and suffering” endured from the inconvenience of having to change the packages.

This increase does not seem to have cut down on the traffic at our store much, thank heaven, as I really need and appreciate my job. We have, however, lost most of the customers who paid for their smokes from worn zip-lock sandwich bags each week but seem to have retained the higher class of our clientele. The Christmas Grinch falls into that category I guess. He doesn’t pay for his cigs from a zip-lock bag and he smokes premiums.

Even so he took the time to complain about how he hated the Christmas season and how sick and tired he was of Christmas music and how he didn’t think it was right that he, an older man, (well he was a LOT older but I didn’t bring this to his attention) should have to run from store to store and buy stuff for grown people. I didn’t think he was the type to be “running from store to store to buy” anything as he always takes all the pennies out of the penny tray when he pays for his smokes but I didn’t mention that either. I told him he sounded like the true, number one, original Christmas Grinch and jollied him around a little bit and he left smiling so maybe he was just blowing smoke anyway. I like to think so.

I thought of the people I don’t see anymore, the zip-lock sandwich bag ones, and wondered how many stores they were running to to “buy stuff”. And I wondered how their Christmas season was going. I hope they are warm. I hope they have a Christmas dinner. I hope they do not feel ashamed for not being up to the fight this old world requires. I hope their zip-lock bags are never empty.