|Four and a half days of bleak nothingness.|
September 2nd. Nine days ago, my wife and I moved to South Carolina from California. We drove
for 2,790 miles (or what Google called 46 hours) over a period of 4.5 days. Our soundtrack consisted
largely of the Beatles, having chosen to forego boxing and loading into the moving truck such LPs as
“Help”, “The White Album”, “Sgt. Pepper’s”, and “Magical Mystery Tour”. We plunked along to this
soundtrack at 55mph in 14 hour intervals. Doing double duty both hauling our personal clutter and
pulling our Jetta, the moving truck burned through $800 in gas before it was over. We slept in
cheap, seedy motels along America’s less favored Main Street, Interstate-40, without any sense of the
fashionable irony for which our generation is known. We jackknifed the hitch in Texas. We lost
Mable, our cat, in a truck-stop in Oklahoma. On the road we beheld deserts, mountains, swamps and
forests. At a tortured pace, we made our way along the vast country.
In early July, Sykes Wilford, President and Founder of Smokingpipes.com invited me out to their company headquarters in Little River, South Carolina, to see if I might be well-suited for a career in pipes and tobacco. Specifically, he was looking for an individual with a passion for both pipes and writing, yet a strong sales background and possibly some experience in staff management was all but a requisite as well. Fortunately for both of us, I met his criteria.
Initially, we’d started discussing such an employment opportunity back in May, but I never let the
possibility get me too excited. Then he offered to fly me out. He even said he’d pay for my hotel.
When Sykes met me at the airport the night I flew into South Carolina, I was immediately impressed with his firm handshake and eager grin. As he chauffeured me to the hotel, Sykes shared freely his ideas concerning the future of the company, his vision of the big picture, and what a job for me would look like if there was one to offer. As much as he wanted someone to be involved in high-touch sales, he also wanted to bring in someone who could get heavily into the writing side of things. He really wanted to get their blog going. The opportunities suggested by his ideas had me excited.
The following day, and after eight hours of exploring the Smokingpipes facility, I’d handled more
pipes than I had ever before seen. They’ve thousands of pipes from some of the most reputable
manufactures and talented craftsmen around the world tucked away into hundreds of shelves spread
throughout every room in both of their buildings. I was even privileged enough to smoke a bowl of
Brian Levine’s secret-stash of eight year old Luxury Twist Flake from a Hiroyuki Tokutomi pipe, which
I suppose I could have brought back to California had I available the $6,000 in cash. Thus far, it
had been a winning day for this humble pipe smoker.
Then, during a tense dinner at a local Thai food restaurant, Sykes made me the offer.
“We think you should come work for us.” He had said, doing his best to hide a knowing smile behind
a straight face. Obviously, I agreed. After dinner, Brian gave me a Rocky Patel cigar which I
puffed victoriously. We hammered out a time frame for my debut. I would start on September 6th.
That’s now four days away.
Shelly and I have yet to unpack a thing.
September 6th. It’s day one at my new pipe dream job. I’m very over-dressed. Note to self:
jeans to work - OK. Very awesome.
September 9th. Sykes calls me into his office and asks that I start thinking about my first blog
entry. “Write about getting out here,” he suggests, and so I will.
September 22nd. This is my third week at Smokingpipes.com and my fourth week as a Southerner. I
could tell a story about my time here as filled with surprise and expectations defied, but that’s
just not the truth. The real truth of the matter is that being here, working here doing all this;
it’s exactly what I imagined it to be. From the moment I sat down to write a resume that could have
been read just as easily as it could have been thrown in the trash, I had a feeling that something
important was about to happen to me. I had a feeling that a real career with Smokingpipes.com would
be one of those rare dreams that manifest. And it’s been just that.
So here I sit, behind a new desk, at a new computer, at my new, no-longer-just-a-dream job as Sales Manager for Smokingpipes.com, making a livelihood writing things like this for your reading pleasure. A man can smoke his pipe all day long at my new job and, yes, right now I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Thank God for good tobacco, and don’t let anyone tell you it does you no good.