Wednesday, October 12, 2005

By Its Cover

I stopped at the gas station down the road to pump some fluid gold into the tank today, and when I went inside to pay I passed by a skinny blondish woman, possibly in her 30s but with a sun- and careworn face, wearing a shirt that read “Phillip Morris.” That seemed a little odd, but I didn’t dwell on it. She looked at me for a brief moment and said nothing.

I paid, and as I was getting ready to leave, a man in work overalls, the kind with his first name on a patch, came in. He was youngish, had a full black beard and his hair in a ponytail, and sported a couple of large tattoos on his arms.

“You smoke?” the woman said to him.

“Yeah, I smoke,” he said. She was giving away cigarette samples, some new thing by Phillp Morris, and had decided at a glance that I didn’t have that look of nicotine. It wasn’t a judgment based on clothes, necessarily, since with cords and a flannel shirt, I wasn’t any better dressed that the workman. I also had about two days’ worth of stubble, a mark of self-employment.

I could object to this on some abstract level, but I’m not going to. After all, she was right.


At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you were upwind, it might have been that you didn't smell of cigarettes, or perhaps there was the tell-tale lack of nicotine stains on your fingers and teeth. There may, of course, be other, more subtle, signs known only to adepts. ANK


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