He went off to work the next day only to get chewed out over missing a deadline. He was in the mood for a nice quiet night in enjoying his new surroundings when he got home.
He was listening to some music and sipping an ice-cold brew when his new phone rang.
“Um, hi. Is this the quit line?”
“The quit smoking line. I wanted to talk to someone about quitting.”
“No, wrong number.”
He hung up and got up to go to the bathroom when the phone rang again.
“Hi, quit line? Listen, my wife won’t stop nagging me about my smoking and I – “
“Wrong number, this isn’t the quit line.”
He hung up. Great, he thought, they probably gave me a number one digit off the one for a smoking clinic. He made a mental note to call the phone company the next day, though he needn’t have bothered. He got eight more calls before bedtime.
The next day he called the phone company only to be told there was a backlog for new numbers and it would be at least a month before they could change his. He tried getting a supervisor on the line, he tried getting angry, he even made threats but nothing was to be done.
The next two nights it was the same. Call after call. He turned off the answering machine after coming home to the same batch of messages from people seeking help.
On the third night he thought he might just lose his mind. On the fifth call that evening he decided he had had enough.
“Quitline, George speaking, how may I help?”
“Oh hi, listen, I really think I’m ready to quit this time. Please, tell me what I need to do.”
“Why do you want to quit?”
“What? I…well, it’s bad for me and it’s expensive and I…that’s a strange question coming from a quit line helper, isn’t it?”
“Is it? I mean, have you really thought this through? You enjoy smoking don’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but – “
“So what, people tell you it’s bad for you and you should quit and you just take their word for it?”
“Hey, doctors say – “
“Doctors? You mean those pill-pushers? The people who get kick-backs from pharmaceutical companies?”
“But, everyone knows – “
“Everyone know? No they don’t. Listen, do you enjoy your cigarettes?”
“Um…yeah, I do.”
“That’s right, smoking brings you joy in life. That first cigarette of the day. The one you light up when you’re stressed and it helps calm you down. Taking a deep drag after a sip of beer. All those things that bring a little pleasure into your life. Am I right or what?”
“Well, yeah, but wait a minute, this is the quit line, what the hell are you doing?”
“I’m talking sense, man. Listen to me. Don’t let people brainwash you. It’s the non-smokers that want you to quit, am I right? What do they know? They just want to suck the joy out of your life.”
“Well, I guess you’re right. I – “
“Damn right I am. Now if you’re excuse me it’s break time and I’m just dying for a cigarette.”
The phone rang again a few minutes later.