Service Tags

If there's one thing I really hate, it's people that bring dogs in to the store.  It doesn't happen all that often, but when it does, it really gets under my skin.  I can't believe there are people out there who bring their pets with them into a place of business.  

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm NOT a dog person.  I really like dogs.  I had one (bitch ran away).  But there's a time and a place for dogs.  Of course, I have a situation that happened not so long ago about this very situation.  Allow me to fill you in.

A week or two ago this party of three walked into the store, all ederly.  I can't recall what type of dog was being dragged about by the geriatric slave drive-ess, but needless to say it was a very long haired variety.  The three of them flew off to the humidor, dog in tow.  My coworker and I sighed.  No dogs in the humidor.  The duty of shattering their bitch bubble ('cuz we's talkin' 'bout dogs) deftly fell on me, so off I was to tell them. 

"Hi, I'm sorry but we don't allow dogs in the humidor."

"She's been in twice before."

"I'm sorry but we can't have dogs in here."

"She's a service dog, she has her service tags."

Tags.  Son of a bitch.  I rolled my eyes and left.  She followed.  She stayed near to the door.  I stayed near to eye her contemptuously.  After an inexorable amount of time (two minutes) she scooped up her bitch and carried her to the humidor.  As if THAT was the problem all along.  PEOPLE PUT THEIR MOUTHS ON THESE THINGS.  

OK, calm down.  Blood pressure...normalizing.  Rage...subsiding.  

THIS IS NOT A PLACE FOR DOGS.

People have an amazing habit of feeling entitled.  They think they can own the store, just because they're dropping 20 bucks.  No, I'm afraid you're going to need to spend a little more than that around these parts.  Like...actually fork over the cash and buy the joint.  Then you can have your filthy bitch romping around.  Until that time...leave the bitch at home.  

Oh, and listen to The Tobacconist.

Insane in the Train Drain.

I think I'm really bitchy.  There has to be some explanation for it, though.  I mean, when all you really do is watch and serve people all day, I think it only natural to pick out the little nuances and faux pas they do and to certainly find annoyance with them.  

What else am I going to do? 

The one customer I'm thinking of really does something that bothers me, and I am not too sure why.  The person in question will take a drag, ponder for literally 5 or 6 seconds, then take another drag.

Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

All I think to myself is, "That can't taste good".  It just can't.  How hot is that sucker going to get?  It has to be bad ettiquitte.  It is bad form.  No one can convince me otherwise.  Don't you dare try to justify that.

Just imagine, if you will, sugar in a saucepan.  And let's further imagine that you apply heat using your stove.  Now let us imagine that you have cranked the heat up all the way, and that the suga and sauce pan has been left on so much so that it has gone from a delicious caramel all the way to a black, sordid mess.  

Now let's imagine you eat said shameful, sad, glop of despair and agony you call a cigar.  

Doesn't taste good, am I right?  

PUT THE CIGAR DOWN. 

Let it rest.  Let the heat normalize, get within accepted parameters.  Or do you hate yourself so much that you have to take a perfectly fine cigar and ruin it with your spite?  

Guess so.

Picky, Picky

I feel if you really let things get to you, you can really have a lot of pet peeves.  Just so many everyday annoyances that would have never bothered you before until you sit down and think about them.  Anyway, here's one of mine.

I was helping a customer last week, and he let slip that he was picky about his cigars.  I quickly jumped on it and said something to the effect of, "Cigar smokers can't be picky, only cigarette smokers are picky".  He disagreed, of course.

My problem with picky cigar smokers is that, if you only smoke brand X, what did you smoke before you got to that one?  Not only that, but why would you limit yourself to such a small sampling?  There are so many truly wonderful cigar brands out there, I don't see why you would put up your blinders to them.

Now, I may have written about this topic before.  If I have...I can't remember.  Get over it.  You're about to hear it again.

Anyway, I guess that's really all I have to say on that.  Essentially, don't be picky.  You have no reason to be picky.  Cigars are for enjoyment and relaxation.  There's a whole wide world out there ready to be delved and devoured into.  I think you owe it to the mountainous men and women of this fine industry to sample their wares.  You're only going to be doing yourself a favor, afterall.  

The Changing Tides

For the last three years I have found a home as a Tobacconist.  The premium tobacco industry has been a warm reprieve for me.  But, a reprieve from what, exactly?

The years that led to my sabbatical from the Church saw many ups and downs, but through it all, it was some of the best times of my life.  Now, it appears that that reprieve is soon at an end.  Next Fall I intend to enter the seminary in hopes to become a Catholic priest.  The people that have supported me through this have been stellar.  But now is the time to pursue that which I have tried to quell in my heart.

There is only so much one can push down such a calling before it eats away.  The harder I tried to silence it (for varied reasons, inadequacy, fear) the harder it begins to push back until there is no fighting it anymore.  I feel done fighting.  Now is the time for acceptance about what I feel called to do.  Yes, the fear is still there.  A fear of losing financial security, a fear of not being up for the call.  But, "I can do all things in Him who strengthen me".  

I've been thinking a lot about what St. Augustine said in his Confessions, "My heart is restless until it rests in thee".  I am restless. There is no shame in pursuing a religious vocation and coming to find one was wrong.  There is shame in having a vocation and never pursuing it.  I want to pursue.  

What does it mean to be a Tobacconist?

What it means to be a Tobacconist and what is a Tobacconist are two different, yet complimentary questions.  It's no wonder why people don't understand this, the art of being a Tobacconist is a dying breed.  This is true of many things.  How many of you have your own butcher?  Tailor? So why would anyone, dare I say it, need a Tobacconist?  

Because as long as there will be a premium product, there will be people that require the specialized education that comes from experience with said premium product.  The nonprofessional enthusiast will almost never have that knowledge.  I deal with hundreds of people a week, in my head is at all times a mass warehouse, if you will, of past experiences than I can bring up at any moment to find you a cigar you otherwise probably wouldn't have even considered buying.  As a Tobacconist, many people place their trust in me to find them something they will love.  It's not about simply giving them a product I want to move, however if I feel it meets their needs then I will sell it quicker than you can say, "Maduro".  No, there is a special trust and there is nothing more I love than when someone says, "This is MY Tobacconist".  Times are hard on us all these days, people come to me to take them away from it all, for one brief hour or two, and to simply sit back and relax.  This is what it means to be a Tobacconist, I am a purveyor of relaxation.  

And so that is what a Tobacconist is, he is one who, after a certain amount of time, has gained an indepth look into the innerworkings of tobacco and human nature.  He is one that can be called upon to be scientist, botanist, therapist and mind reader.  It's a tall order.  What are people really saying when they want this type of flavor profile or that one?  His palate must be sharp to determine the strengths and flavor profiles of the cigars to best make recommendations.  "First do no harm" comes to mind, especially with new smokers.  I can't give them a powerhouse, ligero laden cigar that will be a sure way to make sure we've lost a new cigar smoker forever.  

We are a dying breed, indeed.  I encourage you all out there, seek out your local shops, get to know them.  Ask them questions.  Make one of them YOUR Tobacconist.  Don't buy online.  Support your local Brick and Mortar shop.  Yes, buying retail is more expensive, however you will gain so much more by supporting them.  You will be a better cigar hobbyist because of it.


What a Wondrous Night for Wine

 I had a beautiful night last night.  It was one of those nights where the heavens open up, the stars and planets align and everything is right.  What was so good you might ask?

Grilled meats under the desert sky, paired with a beautiful California Zinfandel.  Let me tell you when I say it was a beautiful pairing.  It was actually one that I have been craving for some time now, and when I saw the Zin (at half off no less) I had to buy it.  After work, around midnight at a customer's house with his brother in law, we fired up the grill, corked the wine and got down to business.  The chicken was wonderfully succulent, butterflied with a layer of ham sandwhiched in between, salty, poultry goodness.

While the chicken, the black beans, and sauteed vegetables that we served along side it were wonderful, what was truly gastronomically transformative for me was the wine when paired with it.  Alone the Zinfandel was superb, the meat top notch.  Together, though...sheer nirvana. 

I also feel a type of hesitation when I saw that I prefer Zinfandel to what I assume to be a Zin outsider, someone who has not been converted to the pleasures and myriad styles that this old vine can bring to one's lips.  However, when they usually do taste it, something truly magical and seductive happens.

They are converted.  

How does one garner an appreciation, a knowledge, a thirst, a zeal for wine?  Sip by sip.  I can't wait to see what the other sips are like.

Long Awaited Postings

 OK, so, that last post I had originally begun writing late May.  So...sorry for the huge delay (rhyme points?).   It's a great job, pays pretty well, plus beer and cigars and wine.  Can't go wrong there.  So that is really what has been new in my life.

Again, though, I would really like to apologize for my lack of posts.  But, I know, excuses, excuses..

And here's another one!  I will be moving closer to work August 1!  

So, there you go.

Way Late Post

Saturday I went out to Palm Springs to hang out with some friends.  We start walking the strip after we were done dicking around at a hookah lounge and I wanted a cigar (I don't smoke hookah because, well, because fuck that).  So I walked into the only store selling decent, premium cigars at a lateR hour, and as per the usual story I started talking to (who happened to be the owner) and lo and behold...he asked me to come in Monday at 3 (AKA earlier today).  

So I did.

I start work tomorrow. 

We So Excited, We, We So Excited...

 Well, it has been one of the busiest weekends this (ex) Tobacconist has had in a while.

Yes, that's right, I said ex.  As you might recall from my prior post, I said I was to have my last day this past Friday, a mere two days ago.  My last day came and went, and that's about how it felt.  Nothing too exciting, to be honest.  I think I was expecting more.  But, at least my last sale was a Davidoff Grand Cru Number 2.  

The following day, Saturday, was to see my first day back in the classroom at Mount St. Mary's in Los Angeles.  After going to bed at 1 AM, I woke up at around 6 to get ready and leave for school.  I get there without much hassle, and sit through my first round of classes which, to be honest, didn't really live up to my expectations.  Over way too quick for my preconceived notions.  However, between my classes (of which there was a three hour gap) I decided I was deserving of a good smoke.  So I drove over to this lounge I had been to once before and one which I knew was very close to campus.  

After talking to the owner and making my selection, he asks if I want a job before even getting to the register.

Will I take it?  Not sure, waiting for the call back to hash out the details.  But I'm  not usually a fan of big cities, so we shall see what happens.

Sunday (read, TODAY) is the longest day.  Two, two hour sections each of New Testament and Philosophy of Film.  I really like these classes now.  The professor for the former went to the same college as I did, plus his nephew graduated with me!  Small world.  He's also one of the most emotive people I have ever met, a very good thing.  I can see him becoming one of my favorite educators there.  The latter is very cerebral (not to say NT is not, just that cinema is different from exegesis) and combines humor with philosophy.  She's also a contributor to the Oxford Companion to Philosophy, so that's kind of a turn on.  

All in all, a pretty good day.  But I thin it's time for this Tobacconist to hit the pilone.

Happy Smoking.

Time to Say Goodbye

 Well, not to the blog, that is.  For my friends, this will not come as a surprise (not to say you aren't my friends) when I say I have turned in my two weeks notice at the store and this coming Friday will be my last day tobacconist-ing there.  Why the change?  Well, it was for primarily health reasons, as the stress was taking a huge toll on my blood pressure and what not.  

But that's boring.  

I have since enrolled at Mount Saint Mary's as a Religious Studies major and have applied to a tutoring company.  But that, too, is beside the point.  I fully intend to keep this blog maintained and updated with all my tobacconal ranting and updates from the industry and, who knows, maybe I'll return professionally to tobacco.  

Well, dear reader, that is the situation as it is right now.  I shall, as always, keep you updated with shenanigans.  

Stay smokey my friends.