Sunday, June 13, 2010
You never forget the first time that the devil taps you on the shoulder. You never forget where you were, or what you were doing. I was working the graveyard shift in a foundry, in Carson City Nevada, in the middle of winter. It was bordering on 100 degrees inside. that’s me, the third guy from the left- the tall gangly looking smart ass, the one with the one gallon ladle full of molten aluminum pouring the caterpillar piston. Damn that looks hot, and not in a good way. I remember that night, a lot of shit gets fuzzy after awhile, but that night is still clear as a bell. I remember that I was just sort of buzzing right along, Doing my thing- I had my cold Pepsi cola sitting under the cooler, pouring pistons and smoking my cigarettes, business as usual, no problem. until I couldn’t catch my breath and I felt my whole chest tighten up, luckily I wasn’t holding a ladle of hot liquid metal at the time. So all that I had to do was rip off all of the safety equipment and go outside to try and catch my breath.
Call it luck or call it fate, whatever, maybe it was the cold air outside, hell who knows? but the pain in my chest subsided as quickly as it came and I finally managed to catch my breath. I didn’t die but it felt like I was definitely on the waiting list. Ok, the truth be known, it wasn’t really the devil. It was all on me, just me and the bad decisions that lead up to that point in time when I was forced by my own body into making a choice. When I was 13 years old I touched the first cigarette to my lips, I lit it, I inhaled the smoke, I chose to light the second one, and the third one after that. Nobody Twisted my arm, or threatened to beat my ass if I didn’t start smoking, nobody was there to hold a gun to my head, it was all on me. No troubled youth who was raised in a bad home environment stories, no lame ABC after school special bullshit. Just a dumb 13 year old kid that made a dumb decision to start smoking cigarettes because he thought that it would somehow- make him cooler.
I’ve stole cigarettes from people, took a few coins here and there to feed that nicotine addiction, and the long story short is the only person who really suffered from any of it was me. Nope no sob story to tell. I finally kicked the habit so to speak for 3 years in 1987. Kicked it clean, I got to breath normal again, until 3 years later when my mother passed away and I let stress get the better of me and I started again before finally throwing them away for good in 1998. Now at the risk of sounding like a politician- let me make this perfectly clear- over the years I had tried virtually every conceivable remedy to permanently purge the nicotine addiction from my body, to no avail. I tried patches, I tried chewing gum, popping pepper corns.. (Don’t remember where that one came from) I tried several times to just quit cold turkey, and each time I allowed myself to become an irritable jerk to the point where family and friends would practically throw cigarettes at me to end the tirade. Finally I must admit that I didn’t even eventually quit because I really did want to, I quit because I felt that I HAD to.
Thankfully the final word came from my body itself, after consuming two and a half packs of cigarettes a day, My lungs and heart had gotten together and in unison on that near fatal night and issued me an ultimatum.- “Quit poisoning us or we will go on strike. The cigarettes or us.. Your choice.” thankfully I still pride myself on being smart enough to listen. I threw a pack and a half of Marlboro’s in a pot of hot metal, tossed the lighter in the dumpster and I haven’t smoked since, nor have I once even paused slightly in retrospect to reconsider that decision. Strangely enough I have had some of my more Christian friends come up to me and say that it was indeed the devil that kept pushing me towards that abyss that I was headed towards. Nope, I beg to differ. There was no little devil sitting on my shoulder carefully orchestrating my every misguided step. It was all on me. Choices, that’s what life really boils down to, you make choices, for better or worse, and you and only you are forced to live with the inevitable consequences. No devil, no crutches, no excuses. You make your bed, and you sleep in it. Advice? Nope, I’m certainly not an expert and I am certainly not going to preach. So what would I say to someone who is trying to quit? if anything? Simple, be honest with yourself, and if you’re really going to quit, do it on your own terms. Because in the end, if you wait until you are forced into quitting, it may already be too late.
~Scratch A.B.T. Copyright © 2010 ~