North Carolina has always loved its tobacco. So, for that matter, have people from states like New York and New Jersey, who’ve loaded their car trunks with cartons and cartons when they passed through. Illegal, but no doubt lucrative when you consider NC state tax is about 35 cents a pack in contrast to NY’s $2.75 per pack. The federal tax adds an additional $1.01.
Sounds like incentive enough to stop smoking, but then I’m not a smoker…and smokers aren’t giving me any advice about this Snickers bar I’m eating right now.
(I should tell you that South Carolina has only a 7 cent tax per pack there AND you can buy the fireworks which are probably illegal where you live, too. )
My point is that I was surprised back when the NC legislature added that 35 cents state tax and even more surprised when they made it against the law to smoke in NC restaurants. Philip Morris has even changed its name to Altria, but don’t worry, they still have Prince Albert in a can. Poor guy.
In other words, smokers ‘can’t get no respect’ these days. Law enforcement is even watching to make sure smokers don’t dump their butts on the ground. Offenders are fined and ticketed for littering. Take this sign is on a parking garage.
I’ll get back to this later.
Today, my friend Beanie and I went to a memorial service for a mutual friend’s mother in a city about an hour from here. We met at a pre-arranged location, then I drove us the 30 miles to the church.
I thought I was prepared–I had two 2×2″ notepad slips on which I’d jotted down some directions stuck to my dashboard, but that didn’t stop me from going to the wrong place. I had to call Beanie for directions to our meeting spot. Nevertheless, when she jumped in my car a few minutes later and started unloading electronic equipment, I thought it was overkill.
“Mind if I unplug your cellphone and put Vera in?” she asked.
Vera the Voice took us back onto the highway and headed in the right direction. Big deal! I had that one in my notes.
Beanie said, “I found us a place to eat lunch. Barbecue. We’re in barbecue country.”
The whole state of North Carolina is barbecue country, more or less. There is eastern style, Lexington style, and a third kind popular west of Charlotte. Truthfully, I like them all, but rarely ever eat pork–my protest against all the hog farms in the state.
For the restaurant leg of the trip, we went off Vera’s pre-programmed route and Beanie diddled with her iPhone to get us there. Vera nagged the entire time and even whined that Beanie needed to update her maps. She finally had to be bound and gagged–unplugged and put away.
The town of Lexington is serious about its barbecue. Remember when Chicago had the painted cows around the city? Lexington has pigs. One held a prominent place in the restaurant:
We talked about the No Smoking in the little barbecue joint. There was a time that the air would have been blue with cigarette smoke. Yet here it was, doing a brisk, smoke free business, although there was a sign in the bathroom warning NO SMOKING IN HERE. The bathroom had no heat– a small, windowless, room so narrow one needs to back in. There wasn’t even a sink; a common one in the hall served both men and women. Anybody that goes in there to smoke is desperate and crazy. They probably don’t wash their hands either.
We made it to the church with 20 minutes to spare and after the service, Vera was reinstalled as Directional Diva. We were back on the Interstate heading home when Beanie squealed. She was laughing so hard I couldn’t understand her, so we had to exit and go back to see the large billboard I’d missed. Obligingly, she got out of the car and took this smoker smackdown shot:
I did take one photo, however. It was behind the restaurant, in the parking lot. You know what I think I’ve got here? (Enlarge it if you need to.)
Looks to me like that’s a smoked pig smoking.