Black & White Makes Gray: Diversity and Cigaraderie

A funny thing happened the other day on the way to the walk-in humidor at my local Brick and Mortar shop. I glanced at the lounge area and all of the patrons were engaged in conversation with one another. Not knowing the topic, I continued on to select a stogie and returned to an open leather chair and was quickly acclimated into the discussion. The topics ranged from sports to politics. From bad relationship advice to religion. The most important note was that everyone was calm, levelheaded and respectful. While there were occasional pauses so that the patrons could draw on their cigars of choice, I couldn’t help but to notice the demographics of the group.

IMG_1391There were men and women. There were older people and there were younger people. There were aficionados of various nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds. And while visually there were little similarities in the group, they all had something in common at that moment. They all had cigars in their hands and they were all enjoying this time…together.

There seem to be fewer and fewer safe places and “sanctuaries” for people to gather where our differences are not the driving force of our conversations. Because color of skin, the color of one’s political party, the color of one’s money (oh, it’s all green isn’t it) has become such a dividing factor for our society, now more than ever is the need to have establishments where sensible people can gather and talk. Establishments where the only colors that really matter are the hues of our cigars and the color of the smoke they produce.

Cigars are many different things to many different people. Some enjoy them to relax and concentrate while some use them as a means to get the party started. Premium tobacco can be enjoyed while making business deals or while checking Facebook and playing phone apps. In this instance, cigars were being used (unconsciously) to bridge gaps. The Brick & Mortar patrons didn’t see color, they saw smoke. They didn’t see class; they saw commonality. They didn’t see age but a shared an appreciation for the leaf, while sharing their two cents on the hot topics of the day.

They say that the most segregated time of the week is Sunday morning. But I say that one of the least segregated places during the week is the cigar shop. And if there are clusters of similar looking people in different corners of the shop, it’s probably more by chance than by intention because everyone there for the same thing…and most have limited seating anyway so we couldn’t be segregated if we wanted to.

I challenge every Brother & Sister of the leaf while enjoying a cigar in a brick and mortar shop to engage someone that on the surface may be different than you. Politely ask them, “Hey, what are you smoking?” and strike up some conversation. Ask them what cigars they’ve enjoyed recently. Gift them with a cigar and watch the walls that society has created through the years come down in a literal cloud of smoke. Cigars bring beautiful people together; they don’t divide. Cigars put each of us on the same playing field and give us the opportunity to connect and discover that we’re all more alike than we think. Cigars are about inclusion and blending. Not just tobaccos but people that create and enjoy them. And it’s this inclusion and blending that once ignited makes us all one united Family of the Leaf.

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