Days Without a Cigarette: 12. 55902777
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: -$8.78
I’ve got a big test coming up today. If I’m playing the “Noah Quits Smoking” video game, I’m about to face off against my first boss villain: The Long Drive.
One of the big advantages I’ve had over most people in my situation is that I work from home and thus have no commute. Hell, my wife does most of the errand running stuff, too; so I managed to stay out of the car altogether for four or five days after I quit. And I’m sure that made those first several days much easier. But it also means that I haven’t had a chance to ease myself into this water. And tonight I’ve gotta dive into the deep end.
Okay… maybe not the deep end. I’ve got a long drive by British standards, maybe; not so much by American standards. I’m going down to Florida to see my wife’s extended family for their big Christmas Eve thing, and it’s about an hour and a half away. That doesn’t seem like much when you compare it to, say, the drive I took back and forth to Dallas a couple of weeks before I quit (29 hours round trip ). But something tells me tonight’s drive is gonna seem longer.
I’ve been smoking longer than I’ve been driving, and of all the activities I regularly engage in, it’s the one that had the highest cigarette frequency. When I was working, I’d try to wait two hours between cigarettes. I rarely made it longer than an hour and a half, but I’d try. When I was off of work and hanging out at home, I’d try to wait at least an hour, and generally make it a solid forty-five minutes. When I was driving,though, I doubt I’d ever make it thirty minutes between smokes. I’d smoke two on a fifteen minute drive. If I was going somewhere I wouldn’t be able to smoke for a while (eg anywhere), I’d light one cigarette off the last one just to make sure I was stocked up on nicotine.
Of course, it’s not like I don’t have any practice with this. I have, after all, ridden in other people’s cars in the past thirty years. And for at least the last fifteen or so, I haven’t been allowed to smoke in the majority of them. And as any smoker knows, these are some of the worst times to be a smoker. Because then, when you stop, you’ve gotta be the asshole that holds up the show while they stand off at the edge of the gas station parking lot trying to suck down a couple of cigarettes. And then you’ve gotta get back into a car full of nonsmokers stinking like a Marlboro. And if you’re anything like me, you don’t wanna be that guy, so you end up smoking too quick and getting all dizzy, or showing up at a rest stop and asking yourself questions like “should I pee or smoke?”
So in that sense, this shouldn’t be that hard. Hell, not only have I ridden in nonsmoking cars, I’ve driven other people’s cars and rental cars that I’m not allowed to smoke in, and I’ve done so for longer than ninety minutes more than once. So ultimately what I’m doing tonight is something I’ve done before. But in all those previous instances, I knew that (a) there was a cigarette waiting for me when I got where I was going, and (b) if I really wanted to, I could pull over at any time and smoke one. And this wasn’t just hypothetical. I’ve done exactly that on plenty of drives before.
But, in keeping with the video game analogy, I’m all stocked up on potions (chewing gum), I’ve equipped my best armor (21mg nicotine patch), and I’ve already got the most powerful weapon in the game (the support of my wife). Not to get too cocky, but I actually kinda feel sorry for the drive to Jacksonville. I’m about to kick its little ass.