Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Winston Churchill, Autumn 93
(continued from page 6)
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As an avid cigar smoker, I wanted to first thank you for your creation of CIGAR AFICIONADO. As a subscriber, I have enjoyed every issue so far. I also had the good fortune to participate in the Big Smoke on May 17, 1993, and I found it to be most enlightening. Normally, I would never consider writing to editors of any major publication, because I would doubt their ability to be truly responsive, but in reading your last issue, I decided to try anyway.
At only 28 and a licensed member of several state bars and federal courts, I find myself to be very fortunate in life at a very early age. As an African-American, I take personal satisfaction in knowing what hard work an diligence will do for a person. Unfortunately, when I attended the Big Smoke in May, I found myself in what appeared to be a distinct disadvantage. I found that on numerous occasions when I approached the various vendor, wanting to sample their wares (as did everyone else), the vendors were polite but not particularly responsive to any inquiry or comment by me. While I watched other individuals approach the various cigar tables and receive more than the specified allotment for each customer time and time again, I was given the standard promotional cigar and sent on my way.
Having been treated like this before at various cigar stores, I always assumed it was because of my youthful appearance. But on that evening I was with a friend who is the same age as I, but is not African-American. After commenting to him about my observations, we both observed that the treatment he and others like him received was clearly different than mine. For example, when I inquired at one table about the proper temperature and humidity levels for aging my cigars in the summer, rather than assuming I just might be the proud owner of a Savinelli humidor (which, by the way, does contain at least one "special cigar") the gentleman assumed that I did not even own a humidor and that I must store my cigars in the refrigerator. Even recalling this now makes me burst out in laughter, even though this was just one of many similar occurrences that evening.
On the upswing, there were at least two times when my appearance was not a detriment. Specifically, when I was on line to receive my La Gloria Cubana Torpedo No. 1. After getting to the head of the line, I saw that the Latin gentleman rolling the cigars was of color like myself. Upon seeing me (one of only a handful of African-Americans there that evening), he nodded his head and with a wink of approval, proceeded to roll a slightly longer and thicker gauge cigar than the others. The other time was a similar encounter at the Nat Sherman table with a salesman named Sam, who was so pleased to see a "fresh young face" that he commented as such and proceeded to go out of his way to accommodate me and my associate.
I have written this letter not to complain or whine about the facts of life, but instead to remind those in the world, that as cigars come in all ages, shapes and colors, so do its connoisseurs. To those who have determined that because someone may not appear to be either famous or an older big businessman worthy of "favored treatment," let me say that there will be at least two businesses that will always have my patronage.
Richard R. White
Assistant District Attorney
New York, New York
Editor's Response: All of us who read your letter will think about what you wrote. Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts with us. We hope that at this November's Big Smoke you and all African-Americans who attend will be treated no differently than anyone else.
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