“Do You Mind If I Smoke?”

I was a young sales guy trying to befriend a prospect, hoping it would lead to new business.

“Do you mind if I smoke?”

He’s the prospect, he can do what he wants, right?

“Hey. if you got ’em, smoke ’em!”

Foolishly, I agreed to go on a late evening boat excursion up the Chadakoin River, through the heart of small town Jamestown, New York, with a prospective client and friends. Destination, a local bar in the seedy side of Jamestown, which we accessed through a jagged hole in a chain link fence above the river bank, a barrier against unwanted traffic. We must have been unwanted.

Buying lunch or dinner with a client was a common practice and expected as part of the normal business culture, an opportunity to be engaged with a prospect in a relaxed setting. But climbing through fences after dark for a beer? Not so much.

I was young, aggressive, enthusiastic, and naive.

After a couple of pops, we left the bar and managed to wiggle our way back through the hole, a couple of beers heavier but still upright.

Finding the boat was a relief and boarding it felt even better. My ‘prospect’ needed something more than two beers and asked if I would like to join him for a ‘smoke’. A nice courtesy, I suppose, but I declined. He cranked the motor, headed upstream, and lit up. I mean, he ‘lit up’*, ‘torched up’*, gleefully noted that it was ‘tea time’*.

I was young, aggressive, enthusiastic and naive.

It didn’t take but a good whiff to realize what he was smoking and it wasn’t cigarettes.

The prospect never became a client, but I grew up a bit that night, and thought a bit more about my own values, the how and where I should conduct business. Not in bars. or cruising on dark rivers with a boatsman smoking a joint. Not anyplace where I might be compromised.

Those are the same values for Life, aren’t they? Make good decisions and be the best you can be. It always works for the better.

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Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

35 thoughts on ““Do You Mind If I Smoke?””

    1. Sales people put themselves in odd predicament, sometimes. You’re right, it was a good thing I ‘grew up’ a bit because I had a long tenure ahead of me. That’s not to say that I cut out all the ‘fun’…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank, Mike. For the most part, I grew up but still had fun. Did I tell you about playing golf with a client in our undershirts…never mind, maybe later. Sales did come later 😎


  1. Excellent story, Steve. I offed a client lunch, and he took me to his favorite “restaurant.” In reality, it was a strip club. He thought it was great. I was mortified. The bill was outrageous as well. It was the last time I offered lunch to that guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve: That was a great story. Reminds me of some of my 3 martini lunches in the late 1970’s as a rookie. I realize I was only there because I had an expense account. I can imagine the bar that you were in and the fence that you crawled through. I wish you Merry Christmas.

    Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 3 martini lunches? You? Climbing through fences for a beer? Me? Sometimes the most innocent looking guys can be the real rebel rousers 😂😎. That’s why you and I wrapped up the top spots one year😁.

      Have a very Merry Christmas, Mike. And keep reading my stories.


  3. Such a compromising situation, Steve. I am glad it helped you solidify your own stance on things. I was in the corporate IT world most of my career and it was shocking to learn the extent companies would go to ‘win the business’. Good for you. And yes, life is much the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Steve, I agree with you about this. You have to hold on to your values and integrity in life. In my field, corporate finance, there is a lot of excessive drinking and drug taking. I’ve never participated. I don’t drink at all at corporate functions although I like a glass of wine at home.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. i would never have risked tearing my favorite golf…I mean work shirt on that fence LOL
    Now a 2nd drink and dessert for the “guest” at our table, yes I was always up for that.
    I learned a lot from an expert “seed spreader” from NY in the early 2000’s which still serve me today.
    Unseen and untold = Unsold

    All the Best SB!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I would never have risked tearing my good work / golf shirt on that fence LOL
    Even as a guy who grew up on a farm, a guy from NY State taught me how to sow seeds….and watch them sprout!
    Unseen and Untold = Unsold
    All the best SB!

    Liked by 1 person

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