Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Bo Derek, Jul/Aug 00
(continued from page 3)
I would like to relate an alarming "customer service" story to you and your readers. I have been smoking cigars for over five years now, a hobby I have enjoyed ever since my graduation from high school. I recently moved to Baltimore, Maryland, from Florida to begin graduate studies at a local university.
As I was terribly fond of enjoying cigars at a well-established smoke shop in my hometown of Tampa, it was important for me to find a similar establishment in my new northern home. I've always felt that the relationship between a cigar retailer and his or her regular customers should be one of camaraderie and, above all, professional courtesy. Unfortunately, my well-intended search turned sour upon the first shop I entered.
This particular shop was one of the newest of several branches of a very well-established retail tobacco company that has been serving the Baltimore area for over a century. I was thoroughly impressed with the facilities and selection. Taking a heightened interest in the store, I began to ask the sales clerk questions about the age of the establishment, its history, its usual selection of cigars, its humidor temperature--in general, questions that I believed any curious customer would ask if trying to select a good tobacconist to frequent.
All of a sudden, the sales clerk whom I was conversing with gruffly cried out, "You know, young man, you sure ask a lot more questions than the average customer!" Apparently, this suspicious man was charging me with some sort of industrial espionage, as if I was a fellow cigar retailer trying to unearth the secrets of my local market competitors. I couldn't believe my ears! Instead of taking my questions as a compliment (as all other retailers have taken them in the past), he grew offended at my harmless curiosity.
I was so appalled, I had the urge to replace all the cigars I had picked up and abruptly leave the store. But the funny thing is, as rude as this roguish sales clerk was to me, I still bought the cigars anyway. I guess it just shows that my desire for a good smoke is greater than my desire to bullishly assert my pride. In retrospect, however, I think I'll visit the downtown store from now on.
I am writing in response to Abbe Myers's letter in the April issue. She sounds very knowledgeable about cigars and I certainly respect her for that. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for her at times to be prejudged because of her gender. I also support her right to smoke cigars. Having done away with the PC niceties, I now want to say: "Who gives a rat's behind?" I have smoked cigars for more than 30 years and during that time women have almost universally maligned and complained about my habit, including my wife. I have had women unabashedly walk up to me outdoors and launch into tirades about the "foul-smelling weed." I live with it.