• Davis Young

I was one of the cool kids, right?


I started smoking when I was about 15-years-old. There was a dirt road alongside my high school’s athletic fields where some students would be running around getting exercise over lunch hour while a group of us would stand on that road and have a smoke. I don’t recall we had much respect for anyone dumb enough to be exercising when they could be smoking. Nothing cool about that. Who wants to hang around with those kids?


I would bring two Pall Malls stuck in my wallet to school every day. After sitting on the wallet until lunch, they would become very flat, but would still be smokeable. One was for after lunch.


The second one was for right after school. One afternoon when it must have been raining, I joined a friend for a smoke in the basement of the Presbyterian church in our town. This was an historic structure first opened in 1766. We jammed cigarette butts into a very narrow space in the basement wall similar to putting notes into the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. My guess is that if you go to that basement today, the evidence of our smoking could still be there - a couple of butts from 60-plus years ago, perhaps some burnt match sticks.


I’m sure people saw us entering that church and thought how refreshing it was for nice young people to be so engaged with God that we would go there in mid-afternoon. In fact, I was confirmed in this church which was also the first place I ever became a member. I am forever grateful we didn’t burn it down by accident. Pews from that church were burned as firewood during the Revolutionary War and this church did suffer terrible fires in 1813 and 1835.


Over time, my bad habit steadily increased its hold on me. I smoked more and more on weekends and vacation days. As I became 17, then 18, I got bolder and bolder. Although I never kept my weeds in the cuff of a rolled up sleeve, full packs did get promoted to my shirt pocket for everyone to see. And, why not? I was a proud smoker.


Fast forward to adulthood. What’s better than a cigarette first thing in the morning? Well, perhaps the one right after breakfast is better. But, not by much. Then off to my downtown job having one in the car at the halfway point every day. Roll into the office, grab a coffee and smoke another one followed by group smoking in a meeting.


One-by-one, colleagues stopped smoking and we needed fewer ashtrays in those meetings. About that time, my kids started getting on my case. Dad, you should quit smoking. Increasingly, I came to grips with the fact that if my kids had gone to high school with me they would have hung out with peers who were exercising at lunch, not the cool kids inhaling on the dirt road. That was one of the few times in my life I haven’t been proud of my kids.


Fast forward again, this time to 1984. The pressure from my kids was burning a hole in our relationship. My wife and I were now buying two cartons of Winston’s a week at the grocery store and augmenting that with additional purchases as-needed. And, there were plenty of augmented purchases. An average pack of cigarettes at that time had risen to an astonishing price of nearly $1.00 or about $10 for a carton. Just the two cartons in the grocery store were $20 per week, or more than $1,000 a year. I was consuming more than two packs a day and my wife was over one pack.


Something had to give. We decided to target January 1, 1985 as Quit Day. Could we pull it off? We shared our last cigarette sitting up in bed New Years night 1985 watching the Orange Bowl game.


Neither of us has ever had another one. The only way to quit is to quit. Period. None of this cut down gradually nonsense. It was far easier for me than I dreamed possible. Four or five days of being a little spacier than normal, then it was over. No craving. No dreams about cigarettes. No chewing gum as a substitute.


A carton today is roughly $75. That would be $7,800 a year of after tax money before we augmented with additional purchases beyond the grocery store. If we were still smoking at our 1985 rate, our grocery store tab per week would be $150 just for cigarettes.


In my old age, I have gone back to my Presbyterian roots, but I have never gone to the basement of the Presbyterian church I attend today for a smoke. In fact, I don’t even know if we have a basement.


It’s been 36 years since my last drag. Once in a while I fall in behind someone smoking just for a little secondary smoke, but that’s it. Today, it’s really all about clean living.


If you’ve got a bad habit, you might want to think about what you just read. I never had a cigarette I didn’t love, but I quit cold turkey. If a dedicated smoker like me can do that, you can, too.

 

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

Pretty sure I handled myself well, but I'll let you decide.


Chris Wallace came to Cleveland last fall to moderate the first of the Presidential Debates. This debate (many call it a debacle) occurred at the Cleveland Clinic, a client of mine for a number of years. The debate brought back into focus my experience with Chris’ father, the legendary TV journalist Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame.


If you Google the late Mike Wallace you may see this reference: .....interviewed a wide range of prominent newsmakers. Perhaps 25 years ago give or take a little I was in Boston at a conference and I was interviewed by Mike Wallace. I guess that qualifies me as a prominent newsmaker.


I media-trained prominent newsmakers including more than 100 administrators and physicians from the Cleveland Clinic. If you’re not familiar with media training, participants are taught different techniques to take control of interviews.


· Have a clear message.


· Get to the point.


· Prepare for likely questions.


· Keep your cool.


· Above all, take the interview process seriously.


Journalists – especially TV journalists – are famous for the so-called ambush interview where an unsuspecting target is surprised, indeed shocked to suddenly find a journalist in their face asking tough questions.


One day at the Boston conference about 7:40 in the morning I got on the elevator heading to the opening session. A couple of floors later, the elevator door opened and Mike Wallace got on. The ambush interview began immediately and without warning when he opened with the type of difficult question prominent newsmakers like me fear most.


Wallace: Have you had breakfast yet?


Me: Yes. (What was his agenda? Was he going to invite me to have a second breakfast? Did he want to know if I thought I had been poisoned?)


Wallace: What did you have?


Me: Some orange juice, a couple of eggs and wheat toast.


Wallace: I had room service breakfast, just toast and coffee. That’s all. They charged me $24 and I think that’s outrageous. What do you think?


Me: Yes sir, that sounds like a lot to me.


The interview ended abruptly as the door opened to the lobby. To his everlasting credit, Mike Wallace respected my time as a prominent newsmaker and did not ask me for an autograph.


Fortunately, I remembered all of the media training counsel I had provided others and I think I acquitted myself well. The interview did not air. It was a busy news day, lots going on. But, we all know it’s not unusual for shows like 60 Minutes to reach back in time and air at least a snippet of a long ago exchange. That may happen yet. Stay tuned.


Some people think Mike Wallace was an overly aggressive journalist, but my experience with him was just fine. I’m proud of the way I stood up to him that day. Others might have folded. Not me. What has become widely known as the Boston Exchange was a career highlight for me and I hope for Mike Wallace as well.


That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

To run or not to run. That is the question.


When I started this blog several months ago, I promised myself I wouldn’t get caught up in serious subjects such as national politics. There’s plenty of bloggers out there sitting at computer keyboards pounding away on topics people are tired of reading about. I don’t want to do that.


Recently, however, a number of good people have approached me about running for President in 2024. At first, I just dismissed them as some sort of crazy cult. But, as their numbers have increased steadily, I feel that as a loyal American I need to give some serious thought to what they are asking of me.


If I were to run for our highest office, the very last thing I would undertake would be to shine a light on misdeeds of my opponents. We need to bring our country back together again and attacking others is not the way to do that.


For example, there’s been a lot of talk about Senator Do-Goody being a potential candidate despite the fact he’s been identified by a number of anonymous sources as somewhat of a party animal. One of the grocery store tabloids did a story that Senator Do-Goody was seen at the State of the Union speech with white powder residue on his face. Far be it from me to suggest he is a cocaine addict, but many others certainly are saying that. There won’t be any talk of Senator Do-Goody and his possible addiction issues in my campaign. I wish him well in his recovery.


Likewise, I will never associate my good name with rumor mongering. Here’s an example of what I won’t do if I run. Everyone knows there are rumors out there to the effect that Senator Wishbone was caught by a security camera exiting a men’s room at a Washington, D.C. hotel having not washed his hands. If it turns out that’s a legitimate photo - and nobody has said it isn’t - he has some explaining to do. We’re fighting a pandemic and a Senator who doesn’t wash his hands needs to explain why. I have no idea if that rumor is true or not, but I do know you won’t find me talking about any of Senator Wishbone’s alleged hygiene issues.


This gets me to something I feel I should be upfront about with the American public. It’s far better for me to bring this up now than to leave it to an unscrupulous opponent to dig into my past and exploit what he finds.


In the fifth grade at my elementary school in Altadena, California I was chosen to be a Squad Leader. This is a high honor and those tapped for this prestigious position are expected to set a good example for their peers. Squad Leaders then - and perhaps even now - were identified by a red kerchief draped over their left shoulder. It was a badge of honor.


I was a model of good behavior except for one thing. I talked a lot in class. My teacher didn’t approve of that. She accused me of talking again and again one day and made me turn in my red kerchief. Mind you, there was no judicial process, no witnesses to speak for me, no time to adequately prepare a defense. Perhaps most egregious was the fact I was not allowed to retain a lawyer. I felt then and feel now that I was smarter than the average fifth grader and that what I had to say to a seatmate was far more important than anything a teacher might say. The bottom line is that I was impeached as a Squad Leader.


I still remember how divisive that was for the class. Students who had courage spoke up for me. Others not wanting to jeopardize future college recommendations sided with the teacher. A fifth grade class split right down the middle. How sad.


After a month or so, I was reinstated as a Squad Leader. My red kerchief was returned and I was allowed to wear it. But, to this day, some 70 years later, this spirit-crushing experience remains an open wound. Whatever either Senator Do-Goody or Senator Wishbone may have done - and more is coming out every day - I’m not going to throw dirt on them. They have every right to defend themselves in the court of public opinion. I hope that eventually each of them will get his red kerchief back.

 

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

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