As I have mentioned previously, my mother is a smoker. At the age of 83, she has no intention of quitting. Nor am I going to ask her to, since I figure if she’s made it to 83 smoking like a chimney…. well, good for her.
The problem is that she smokes a brand of cigarettes that is, as they say, “old school” – True Kings, non-menthol, thankyouverymuch. Very few places carry this brand any more. As a matter of fact, nobody in the town where she lives carries them.
Enter moi, who lives in the metro-Atlanta area. I periodically have to go on a cigarette hunt to a variety of convenience stores, scoring every bloody carton of True Kings in the cities of Marietta and Kennesaw.
As it turns out, buying tons of cigarettes at convenience stores is typically what crooks do when they’ve stolen credit cards. Who knew? I found this out one time in the pouring rain, standing outside of a QuickTrip when my Visa card had been declined. Bank of America was calling my home phone at the same time to tell me someone had my credit card. Once I was dry and had it all sorted out, I told them no, it really was me, I really was buying all those smokes, and please don’t cut my card off again.
I’ve now taken to pre-emptive calls when I have to go on a cig hunt. One such conversation occurred yesterday when I called Bank of America…
The woman who answered the phone was very friendly and polite — as well as shocked that I’d been a cardholder since 1976. Yeah. I have the grey hair to prove it.
“What can I do for you today?”
“Well, you see, I have to buy cigarettes for my 83 year old mother, so I’ll be visiting a variety of convenience stores in quick succession. You generally cut off my card when I do this, but I’m calling beforehand to tell you it’s really me, so please don’t cut me off.”
“You have to buy cigarettes for your mother?”
“Well, yeah. They don’t sell her brand where she lives. Look, I’m not really thrilled about buying carton after carton of cigs when I don’t smoke ’em, but you do what you have to do for your mom, right?”
(more muffled laughter)
“You’re going to convenience stores?”
“Yeah, generally QuickTrip. I may make a side jaunt to a Publix, because my dog needs some Brie, and they occasionally have the cigs there.”
“Your dog needs Brie?”
“It’s a long story. She won’t take her heartworm preventative without it.”
(laughter becoming more prominent)
“What kind of cigarettes does your mother smoke?”
“True Kings. Really, she won’t smoke the 100s. I don’t know what the difference is.”
“You’re a good daughter.”
“Yeah, I know. Just don’t cut off my card.”
“We’ve got your account noted. Have a good weekend.”
“Thanks. I appreciate the help.”
….and as I was hanging up the phone, I heard “Sarah! Quit laughing at me!!!”
I have a feeling this story will make the rounds of the call center for awhile.