Life Stuff

The Quitter, Part 1

I discovered something disturbing the other day. Cigarettes are apparently bad for you! I can’t believe no one ever thought to mention this to me.

So, this weekend, after roughly twenty years, cigarettes and I will part ways.  I’ve tried to quit before, generally with no success, save the time I quit for about eighteen months a few years back. With each failed attempt, however, I’ve learned a little something to bring with me to my next attempt, and I’m fairly optimistic that this time will be the final time.  With a bold new plan in place, I think I will kick them for good.

This will be a cold-turkey approach, which I think is the only way to do it. I tried the patch once, which didn’t work. Having a patch stuck to me all day irritated my skin, gave me bad dreams, and was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t forget it was there, which meant I was constantly thinking about the patch and thus constantly thinking about not smoking and thus constantly wanting to smoke.

I tried the nicotine gum, which sounded good: chewing on something keeps your mouth busy all day. While I’m sure I’ll be chewing gum during this attempt, it won’t be nicotine gum, because you don’t just pop in a piece of nicotine gum and chew away to your heart’s content. There are rules.

You have to chew the gum a certain number of times, then park it between your teeth and your cheek for a certain amount of time, then chew it a certain number of times again. Keeping track of each piece, how many chews I’ve given it, how long it’s been parked in my cheek… it’s all very scheduled and precise instead of the mindless chomping I need. The last thing I want to do is spend all day thinking about how I’m quitting smoking. It’s the same problem as the patch.

So, I’m flying solo: no prescription drugs, no crutches, just stopping using the following plan, which I call my Three P plan.

The three P’s of quitting:

Procrastination: This is the keystone of my methodology. I will use my natural procrastination to help me quit smoking by never actually quitting, just delaying my next cigarette indefinitely.

See, I hate bumming smokes off people. I hate it. I think it’s rude and I’m always annoyed when someone does it to me. It’s like going up to a stranger in a restaurant and asking for a bite of their steak. With my anti-bumming policy, the only way I can smoke is if I go buy my own.

Something else I hate doing is literally everything else. If there’s one thing I love to do, it’s nothing. Putting things off is second-nature to me, so why can’t I just put off buying cigarettes? Forever!

Anytime I feeling like I really need to smoke, and find myself thinking about buying smokes, I’ll just tell myself: “Okay, fine, but not right now. Put it off until later.” When later comes around, I’ll put it off again. And again. This practice of procrastination has kept me from going to the dentist and learning Javascript for years; I don’t see why smoking should be any different. I’ve trained myself for years to be lazy and unmotivated, and now it’s finally going to pay off. In lung dollars!

Punishment: Of course, there are times when my need for nicotine will overpower me. When my brain will be all but demanding that I have a cigarette. When I might be in such dire straits that I actually consider asking someone for one. This is where I will have to retrain my brain.

The plan is, when my brain decides it absolutely needs nicotine, I will give it something else: push-ups! Every time my brain tells me it wants and needs a smoke, I will instead drop to the floor and give it the agony of doing as many push-ups as I can (granted, this is not very many, but I’m sure dropping to the floor and doing push-ups a couple dozen times a day will increase the amount of push-ups I can do). I’m hoping that my brain will eventually realize that asking for nicotine equals getting a lot of pain instead, and will eventually stop asking. Hopefully not too quickly, though, I’d like some well-sculpted biceps and triceps to go along with my new well-sculpted lungs.

Sunflower seeds: Okay, this doesn’t start with a P, but it’s the third prong of my attack, and the Two P and One S plan isn’t very catchy.

I’m not simply addicted to nicotine but the ritual of smoking itself; doing something with my hands and mouth. And what better way to kick the disgusting habit of smoking than by picking up the disgusting habit of crunching on and spitting out sunflower seed shells? It’s gonna be a real pleasure to be around me for the next couple months.

One of the places I always feel like I need to smoke is while driving to and from work. In my half-hour commute I usually have three or four cigarettes each way, sometimes more if there’s traffic. Last week, however, I started eating sunflower seeds while driving, and it fills in nicely. Added bonus: cigarettes don’t come in zesty ranch flavor!

Finally, I’ve come up with a way to face the incredibly thorny issue of deciding which cigarette will be my last. Planning a set date and time to quit smoking is a terrible idea, because how can you pick your last cigarette? Knowingly smoking your last cigarette is a sure way to make that last cigarette taste like crap and feel completely ordinary, not the perfect, tasty, wonderful cigarette to end a smoking career with. And I can’t just pick one at random because I have no willpower, which was what got me into this mess in the first place.  That’s probably why I’ve put it off for so long; it never feels like the right time, it never feels like the last one. But at some point, there has to be one.

So, I’m leaving it to fate. Friday night, after work, I’m letting fate decide my last smoke. After every cigarette I have, I’m going to roll a six-sided dice. If 1-5 comes up, I’m not quitting yet. I can have one more.  When 6 comes up, that smoke I just had was the last I’ll ever have. There will be no hemming and hawing, just a decision made by the dice, probably followed by me bursting into tears and unhappily stuffing sunflower seeds into my mouth.

That’s the plan! It goes into effect this Friday night. If you’d like to subscribe to my Twitter feed and keep track of how miserable I am in real time, feel free.


  1. Bravo!!! Good luck!

  2. Hi Chris! I have an ex-smoker friend who swears by this:

    Good luck!

  3. I smoked a pack a day for about ten years. I started using an electronic cigarette in december, haven’t smoked since.

    I wish you all the luck in the world old friend. Glad you are back.

  4. I’m a friend of Nancy’s and loved your plan. I quit cold turkey three years ago. It’s the best way to go. The gum is disgusting and the patch just screws with you brain – besides giving you a skin rash.
    I like the push-up idea. My substitute was wine – not such a good idea.
    Smoking may never make you sick but you become a social pariah and it wrinkles the skin – ugh. I’m sure you’ve noticed you have fewer and fewer friends standing under the eves in the pouring rain sucking one more drag before your cigarette disintegrates in your fingers.
    Not a pretty picture and one you’ll happily leave behind.
    One day soon you’re going to love being free from all that not to mention the six pack you’ll have developed.

  5. good luck old friend!! I have not bought a pack in two months

  6. Nonomu198 says:

    Chris, not smoking? It can not be!

    Good luck, I hate cigarettes.

  7. Fan from First Person Shouter (and 1Fort!) here, and I wish you all the luck in the world in quitting smoking. Who knows, maybe once you’ve quit you’ll be able to write more. Take care.

  8. Good luck bro, I remember when I quit smoking was, I just lost the taste for it. I remember driving to work one morning smoking and thinking to myself how bad it tasted and how I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. After that it was easy.

    Also a fan of FPS

  9. Make sure to post before and after pictures of your well sculpted lungs!

  10. Avid follower of nmd from ’03 here! I wish you the best of luck on your new nicotine free life and hope to see more hilarious articles from the world’s funniest temp :)

  11. Hello, possibly this post might be off topic but anyways, Having been surfing about your site and it looks extremely cool. It is obvious that you know the subject and you appear passionate about it. I’m building a new web site plus I’m attempting to make it look great, and present top quality content. Having learned a good deal visiting this web site and I anticipate much more posts and will be returning soon. Thanks you.

  12. Haha, I’ve read notmydesk from the beginning and wondered if you’d ever quit. My grandfather used to smoke. When he found out it was unhealthy, he threw away his tobacco and just never smoked again. I think you can do it, Chris :P. I also want to thank you for all the content you’ve produced over the years.

  13. REALLY good thing you didn’t go with Two P and One S
    Think about it
    Think about what the phrase Two P, One S SOUNDS like.
    But humorous sounding phrases aside, good luck to ya! I think I remember the time you tried to quit waaaaaay back when frohman was still cracking mines with a shovel.

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