Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 1
Good afternoon and congratulations! You are now on your way to a smoke-free life. This is the first of your daily, personalized, telephone reminders from Chantix’s GetQuit smoking cessation program to help you get quit and stay quit. Thousands of people have stopped smoking with our step-by-step cessation process—and you can too! By now you’ve begun taking Chantix .5 mg a day tablets; your quit date will be exactly one week from today. Are you ready? We are. In your profile, you mentioned “saving money” and “health” are your two primary reasons for quitting. Think of a special trip or a nice present with which to reward yourself with all the money you’ll save! You’ve taken the first step toward a smoke-free lifestyle. Good luck, Mr. Smith. We know quitting smoking won’t be easy, but we’re here to help. Press ‘1’ to end this call. Goodbye.

Day 7
Good afternoon, Mr. Smith! You know what today is? That’s right, it’s your quit date! Hope it didn’t sneak up on you. It seems like it kind of did, because you’re having a cigarette right now, aren’t you? Don’t worry. Quitting smoking is a tough process—we know that. Don’t beat yourself up over minor setbacks. Remember, if you feel stressed or uneasy or just crave a cigarette because you are a weak-willed clod, try some relaxation exercises: Chew a piece of gum or simply leave the situation that is causing you unwanted stress. Ah, you’ve pressed ‘1’ to end this call. Perhaps our daily reminder is causing you unwanted stress? Look at it this way: You asked for it. Why would you spend your money on medication and support if you weren’t serious about quitting? It kind of boggles the mind. Just remember, “saving money” and “health” are your primary motivations to quit! Stay focused on quitting, and for God’s sake, you know better—marijuana is no kind of substitute for cigarettes and is also illegal. Now you can press ‘1.’ Goodbye.

Day 66
Good afternoon, Mr. Willpower! I see here that you’ve saved exactly −$367 since you’ve begun our GetQuit program. How embarrassing for you. We thought one of your main goals to quit smoking was to save money—not working out so well, eh? Yes, buying a carton of smokes then driving 80 miles on the interstate so nobody will see you while you’re sucking down those coffin nails will eat up those hard-earned dollars you’re so intent on saving. Also, maybe don’t hit the scotch so hard. While thought-provoking, your mantra of “If I can’t remember it, it didn’t happen,” just isn’t cricket. Out of curiosity, does it concern you when you pick up other people’s half-smoked cigarettes off the street Downtown and smoke them? It’s just so … desperate. What about your health? This is a recorded voice message, Mr. Smith—why are you screaming at me? Seems a little paranoid, don’t you think? Why don’t you think of a relaxing scene or something positive? It’s funny how you’re sweaty and hiding behind a gyro stand right now. Hey, are you laughing or crying?

Day 179
Hello? I know you’re there; I can here you breathing (or should I say wheezing?). You know, it’s always good to see somebody who can fall off that wagon then get right back on. Not you, though! Christ on a bike, you’re like the worst I’ve ever seen. Do you have a friend or colleague you can turn to for support? No, you don’t. You have what you tell your coworkers is an Internet “girlfriend,” who I hate to tell you is not in fact a 36-22-36 mortgage broker at Goldman Sachs, but a 19-year-old dude messing around with you on the computer in the back of RadioShack during his break (And sort of related to that—what’s with this impression of Andre the Giant you do to “impress” the ladies? You realize he’s not Chinese, right?). Is it really that hard for you to quit smoking, Mr. Smith? Your behavior makes me think you never wanted to quit in the first place. I admire your zeal, but the ineffective device fashioned from aluminum foil and your little sister’s Hello Kitty lunchbox to “deflect” smoke while you’re squatting atop the toilet seat, puffing away like a crackhead at your parents’ house doesn’t do much to inspire confidence. Your parents’ house, man! And they’re the ones paying for this whole smoking cessation program—you malodorous ingrate.

Day 365
O.K., wow. What a year it’s been, eh? Let’s see, I don’t even remember anymore … Oh, right. Here it is. Your primary reasons for quitting smoking were health and saving money. Here’s a recap: You have saved approximately −$4,557 on cigarette related activities this past year alone. It might be an even more daunting number if, as of last month, you hadn’t resorted to selling your .5 mg tablets of Chantix to high-school kids for $25 a pop, claiming they’re “magic sex pills from Ibiza.” Shame on you, sir. And what about your health? Well, when you breathe, it sounds like a snapping turtle caught in a Cuisinart, and with your blood pressure so high, I’m surprised you don’t just spontaneously explode like in Scanners. So, all in all, I’d call this particular project an abject failure. I’d like to say “let’s stick it out together,” but it’s clear you are hopeless. I don’t have feelings because I am a robot, but if I did, I’d push your face in for wasting all my time. May you rot and may I be there to watch and leer at you so you’ll think that maybe if you had quit smoking you could have lived long enough to save the Earth from the inevitable robot uprising —which you couldn’t have—there are too many of us.

Press ‘1’ to end this call.

Described as an “up-and-coming humorist” by Esquire, Tyler Stoddard Smith’s works have been featured in: The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes, The Best American Fantasy, Esquire, Meridian, Pindeldyboz, The Big Jewel, Yankee Pot Roast, Word Riot, Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, and McSweeney’s, among others. Feel free to contact him at

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