It is literally raining on my parade! Not just the kind of rain that showers you in a fine mist, but the kind that soaks you thoroughly with one drop and causes tidal waves in the puddles at your feet.
Yep, that kind of rain! And I’m standing in it, like a numpty, trying to shelter under a tree. A tree that seems hell bent on directing as much of that rain as possible down my neck and back. I curse myself, the rain and the fact that I am even here.
My destination is only ten feet away, but I have to remain here getting soaked because I can’t go in until I’ve smoked my final cigarette. As I look down at my soaking wet feet I can see, from the pile of soaked cigarette butts, that I’m not the only one who has needed to do this before entering.
Clearly many have gone before me. Probably all just as frustrated and miserable to have reached that day circled on their calendar…the one we’ve been dreading for weeks….smoking cessation clinic day!
Since making the appointment we’ve all doubled our daily intake of cigarettes with the ridiculous idea that we should cram in as much enjoyment as possible before it is taken away from us forever.
I know, I know, it makes no sense! We’re only making our stop smoking task even harder. Let me tell you though, in a smokers mind, it makes perfect sense. If you’re a non smoker just trust me on this and take it as fact.
So here I am trying to suck the life from a now, very damp stick, between my lips. A stick that ironically is sucking the life from me at the same time, but right now I don’t care about that.
I only care about trying to get the best out of this last cigarette. I’m sucking so hard I feel quite sure that if someone walks past me now they’ll think I’m trying to vacuum seal my face!
It’s pointless of course, the cigarette is soaked and the rain shows no sign of stopping. It simply hangs limply from my mouth, pathetically dripping a feeble trail of smoke…which somehow makes my mind think of reason number ten to stop smoking…erectile dysfunction.
Annoyed, and feeling like the fact I haven’t been able to enjoy my last cigarette is going to doom me from success, I throw my cigarette down. It joins a pile of other hopefuls at my feet as I make my way to the door of the clinic.
Well…my feet make their way, whilst my mind is running down the street screaming for freedom like an epic scene from Braveheart!
There’s a relief when I step inside the clinic. I feel a sense of achievement that I have even kept my appointment and made it this far, but when I look at the fearful eyes that greet me in the waiting room I can see that this is probably going to be a short lived emotion!
I scan the room and try to find somewhere to sit that’s not too close to the others. Partly because I don’t like people to think I smell like a smoker, (and as I’ve just put one out I know I’m definitely going to smell like one of them!) Also, because I know only too well that to these fearful souls about to quit, the smell of smoke is like wafting the smell of blood under the nose of a very hungry vampire. Their eyes tell me they’re suffering enough right now.
You see, none of us really want to be here, not completely. We all have different reasons for forcing ourselves to come but ideally we prefer our ‘bury your head in the sand’ smoking lifestyle, and would rather everyone just left us alone to get on with it… thank you very much!
The silence amongst us is deadly and the clock on the wall sounds like it has the inner workings of Big Ben. Ticking loudly and counting down the seconds till we leave our dear friend smoking behind. Tick, tick, tick…
I glance around the room to check the others out. Pretending of course, that I’m looking at and reading the posters on the walls of the room. Please tell me I’m not alone in my covert people watching strategy!?
To the left of me is a man I would guess at being a 60 a day kind of smoker..if ever there was an advert to stop smoking, it is this guy.
His trembling hands are on his lap and I can see the yellow nicotine stain on his two holding fingers, his teeth in matching colour. It takes no effort to see this guy is a heavy smoker and has probably been all his hard working life.
I decide I feel happy that he is here, I think he may inspire me…because if he can go through with this after years of smoking heavily…that gives me hope that I can do it too.
Just next to him are a fairly young couple. In stark contrast, they are young enough to not show any signs of being smokers just yet. They look ‘clean’ if you know what I mean?
You see, I always think that being a smoker makes you look a bit grubby. It gives you a grey kind of ‘needs a good wash’ pallor, or at least, it does after you’ve done it for a long enough.
These two haven’t got there yet. Out of all of us they look the calmest and happiest to be here. My initial thought is that being together in this journey is giving them strength but, as I later find out, they are calm and happy about stopping smoking as they are doing it for one of the best reasons in the world…to have a baby. 🙂
Just opposite me is a woman who looks to be in her early 30’s. If I look closely I can see some signs that she is a smoker, but she seems to have escaped that hardened look that it can give you.
Her face is soft and warm and as I meet her gaze she gives me a nervous smile.
Suddenly, snapping me out of my people watching state, in bustles a red cheeked rotund lady. She beams at us with beautiful white teeth, and entering the room with her is a smell of soap and cleanliness.
This is a woman who quite clearly has never smoked a day in her life and you can hear the collective sigh amongst us as we realise we are, yet again, going to be preached to instead of understood.
“Right then” she smiles. “I’m Emma and you must be my new recruits? Follow me and we’ll get started on your new healthy life”
I guess this is a quip meant to inspire us, but as we all stand up to follow her, I notice 60-a- day man make his way to the door and slip out quietly. Bugger! I was really hoping he’d stick around…who am I going to be able to feel reassured by now!?!