Million Dollar Man

Nearly 4 years ago I found myself sitting in a park bench in lower Manhattan, minding my own business and watching the world go by. I can remember thinking how very lucky I was, when suddenly my life became richer…

An older gentleman came passing by pushing his 3 tub high shopping cart of a home in front of him. He blurts out to me, “HEY, they are handing out free million dollar bills over there. You better go get yours before they run out!” (Clearly it was a fake million dollar bill to all you gullible ones out there) Before I was even done laughing, he had come and sat down right next to me. As we began to chat, I felt a true kinship towards him. What should of felt strange, felt right, felt good. Soon enough my new friend Sam would enlighten me to exactly why he and I were together on this particular day.

Sam proceeded to pull out a hand rolled cigarette out of his pocket, man oh man, I had just been force to retire from smoking just 4 months previous after an illustrious 30 year career due to a massive heart attack. And here was this guy years older than me still able to smoke away. As Sam took his first drag I said to him, “I sure wish I was still qualified to smoke.” After informing Sam of my heart attack he started to tell me some of his adventures. Sam was a terrific storyteller and I could have listened to him for days. Sam pointed to his cigarette and proclaimed that this cigarette had lasted him all day, and if he were careful it would last him all night as well. He said it was the real deal, not this crap people smoke today. As Sam carried on it hit me, perhaps Sam was my guardian angel informing me that I didn’t need to smoke any longer. The cravings are always there. That is when Sam started to tell me a story that was worth more than any million dollar that anyone was handing out.

Seems that when Sam was a young man he worked in the tobacco fields with his grandpa. His grandpa let him in on a dirty little secret… There would be a new product, a product that would be the death of everyone who smoked. Sam was now very serious in his, otherwise easy-going, tone of voice. Sam went on to say that his grandpa said this product would be called filtered cigarettes and tobacco companies were going to start sweeping up all the remains on the warehouse floors and roll them into cigarettes and place a filter at the end. Tobacco companies would make millions by promoting a “safer” way to smoke (Biggest oxymoron I have ever seen). Being told this bit of information only months after I HAD to stop smoking was just all too coincidental. How does this stuff happen?

In a matter of minutes, Sam had helped me more than he will every know to stay away from cigarettes. As he licked his fingers and carefully put out his one hand rolled cigarette, he got up to leave. Thats when I asked him if I could take a picture of him so I would have something to remember him by. He agreed, and added that it had probably been years since someone asked him to be in a picture.


As Sam strolled off with his life literally in front of him, I was convinced he was a messenger from the heavens, or maybe my wife found him and asked him to play this role so that I would stick around for awhile. Either way, thanks again Sam, where ever you might be. Good advice can come from anyone at anytime so have an open ear and an open mind.. it can change your life.


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