Hear Those Young Lions Roar

I am one of those poor souls who has done things over my lifetime that I am ashamed of. Some things I AM REALLY ashamed of, and other things… well, not so much. I still have firmly etched in my mind the time I was a little on the wicked side with an anti-smoking Nazi who accosted me in one of the isles at a local grocery store about 20-years ago. I had just gotten off of work after a long hard day, and my better half had called to ask if I’d pick up a few things for her on the way home. I was tired and hungry, but smart enough to know that life is a whole lot better when one obeys the wife. So there I was in the middle of an isle looking for some kind of mix that women use to make stuff. I was having a hard time finding what my wife wanted. I had my pipe in my shirt pocket, and quickly stuck it in my mouth as I leaned over to try to find what I was looking for on one of the lower shelves. The pipe was empty and I only stuck it in my mouth so that when I leaned over it wouldn’t fall out of my pocket and fall on the Formica floor and possibly break in half and snap the tenon. All of a sudden, I hear someone yelling, “Hey, hey, you can’t smoke in here!” I looked up and an extremely heavyset woman with a basket in her arms comes waddling up to me all red faced. “You can’t smoke in a grocery store for heaven’s sake,” she says. I was very polite and pulled the pipe out of my mouth and turned the inner bowl toward her jelly like face as I explained that the pipe was empty and didn’t even have any tobacco in it. Taken aback for a moment, the lady then responded, “Well, smoking is bad for you anyway,” she wheezed after her ten foot waddle over to me caused her to be out of breath. “Well, ” I said, “that may be true but you sure are a poster child for the fact that over eating is bad for you!” She responded with an incredulous look, and then turned around and lumbered off. She was wearing a tent dress of some kind and I swear, as she rapidly did an about face and beat a hasty retreat, it looked like a couple of  cats were fighting up under that dress right about where here ample posterior was located.

Over the years I have mellowed considerably when it comes to speaking up for my rights to smoke. Nowadays, if someone says to my face that smoking a pipe is bad for me, I just say that Santa Claus has smoked a pipe regularly for centuries and is still going strong today. And that my own great grandfather smoked about 10 bowls a day for 70-years and lived to be 94! If the government ever tells me to quit smoking, they can take my pipe after they pry it out of my cold dead fingers!

So, now you know why I absolutely love all the young pipe smokers who have been coming out of the woodwork, particular over the last decade. I’ve met them online, I’ve met them at pipe shows, I’ve met them at my own pipe club meetings and have even had a few of them come to my home to enjoy a few smokes and eagerly discuss various brands of pipes and tobaccos. These young people, called “millennials” are around 25 to 40 year of age. And according to Google, Millennials are likely the most studied and talked about generation to date. They are the first generation in history that have grown up totally immersed in a world of digital technology, which has shaped their identities and created lasting political, social, and cultural attitudes. And here is a list of their attributes:

  • They value meaningful motivation.
  • They challenge the hierarchy status-quo.
  • They place importance on relationships with superiors.
  • They have an intuitive knowledge of technology.
  • They are open and adaptive to change.
  • They have a passion for learning.

That last bullet point most impresses me. Because I sell about 2-thousand pipes a year on eBay, and about 250 tins and bags of tobacco each week on my website, I get tons of questions and comments through mostly emails and texts from these young lions. I am astounded not only at the number of Millennials who ask questions, but who also have a deeply based knowledge of pipes and tobaccos because they are so savvy in using the Internet to garner information about this wonderful hobby. And best of all, they are fighters! If you want to take away a Millennial’s right to smoke pipe tobacco, you better put your gloves on. Because they are younger and still full of vigor, they’ll either challenge you to explain your points to their satisfaction, or offer you counterpoints to your own beliefs that truly may cause you to change your thinking. I know that has happened when I’ve bantered back and forth with these young lions over the years, and kudos to them as they are the future of this hobby. If we want to continue to see the growth of pipe smoking, particularly in these troubled times, latch onto one of those energetic Millennials!

Happy puffing,

Steve