Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Tom Berenger, July/Aug 2007
(continued from page 2)
The next Friday, I was called into my boss's office and told that I could not have a cigar in my mouth while driving. He said it was against the law and against company policy. The image of the company might suffer. How could the company suffer if I'm alone in the bus? "Someone might pass you and see one of our drivers with a cigar," he said. When I inquired as to how he knew I had a cigar while driving, he said he saw it on the bus cameras. When I was hired, he said the cameras on the bus were for insurance and safety issues. If the bus is in an accident, the cameras kick in and capture 10 seconds before an accident up until 10 seconds after. Also, you can engage them yourself if a customer is getting out of hand. Not a bad system to prove you weren't at fault for an accident or a customer on a party bus was drunk and unruly, but I was pissed because they were obviously spying on me. I was also pissed because I had an unlit cigar and I was not even around customers. When I mentioned this to him, he said it didn't matter. He stated I could've been ticketed by a cop for breaking federal law and it was against policy. When I asked him to show me the federal laws against unlit cigarettes/cigars and the company policy against it as well, it didn't go too well. He couldn't. It boils down to "We Say So." He who has the gold makes the rules!
I can't wait until they start targeting McDonald's and Pepsi and taxing them for medical complications from sugar and fat health risks. It is coming.
I want to tell you about someone very important in my life. A little over five years ago, I met the woman of my dreams. Her name is Danika. She is smart, beautiful, and cares a thousand times more about others than herself. She means the world to me. Shortly after meeting her, the time came that most single men detest -- meeting the parents!
I remember the day as if it were yesterday. We pulled up the drive, put the car in park and she said to me, "Now don't be nervous, my dad can be pretty intimidating." Instantaneously my heart rate skyrocketed. After entering the house and going through the proper introductions (sweaty palms and all), I was asked, "Chris, would you like to join me for a cigar on the deck?" Now, I had grown up in a household where smoking was everything but acceptable. My mother to this day still tries to make me feel guilty for enjoying one of life's true pleasures.
Contemplating the situation, I agreed. He handed me a few choices and I selected the one that, in my ignorance, looked to be the best. It was a Macanudo Robusto. We sat on the deck, smoked the cigars and watched the autumn leaves fall, all the while getting to know each other. It was the best day!
As my relationship with Danika progressed, so did my relationship with her father. He would get me cigars every time we visited. I almost didn't realize it, but my love for cigars was growing with my love for her and her family.
He has become a very big influence on my life. I go to him for advice in business, love and life. And no matter how hard the situation may be, he is always there with wise words and a great cigar for reflection.
I recently became the husband of that amazing woman. Her father and I enjoyed a Cuban Romeo y Julieta that he purchased for me in Scotland. It was the best day of my life, not just because I married the woman of my dreams, but because of the time I shared smoking with my father-in-law.
I have been a subscriber to your fantastic magazine for a few years now and, like that first meeting of the parents, my heart beats faster every time I open the mailbox and the gift of Cigar Aficionado is waiting for me inside. As I look forward to every new issue, I continue to trust that your publication will be a beacon for everyone who loves a great smoke.