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Put Down That Pipe!

Put Down That Pipe!
March 5, 2013 The Pipe Guys
the-old-stone-church

Surely the majority of us pipe smokers, at least once, have been the target of a dirty look or rude comment directed at our habitual puffing. Being a pipe smoker just isn’t as cool these days as being an organic farmer or gluten-free baker. Most of the time rude comments and dirty looks are hurtful, but after the fact, they are often good for a laugh as well. About a year ago, Jon and I had a smoke together, and subsequently a run in with the law. Here’s what happened:

A Sunny Afternoon

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Since neither of us have a screened in wrap-around porch or a finely appointed smoking room (yet), the great outdoors tends to be our favorite place to light up a bowl of fine leaf. There is a sort of “deck” extending from the building in suburban New Jersey where the both of us lived at the time. The view from there isn’t too bad, just a parking area for the local residents, but with an old stone church within eyeshot and some greenery here and there. We decided to step out on the deck for a smoke. We’ve done this on many occasions without any trouble, but on this particular occasion last year, things got a little bit sticky. Everything was grand; we were lighting up some Latakia blends, enjoying their sweet and spicy fragrances, and relaxing in the cool breeze. Conversation continued over about half a bowl’s time, when we noticed something a bit out of place. A Crown Victoria had pulled up to the entrance of the parking area, but had not driven all the way in. We could see the black and white front of what we knew was a police cruiser peeking out from behind the adjacent house. Nothing to be alarmed about, but even more strange was that a moment later another cruiser pulled up to the other side of the lot. We wondered if something had happened; maybe there had been a shoplifter at the local consignment shop that shares the parking area? Our conversation came to a halt as the cruisers slowly but simultaneously pulled further into the lot, and encompassed our vantage point. Jon turned to me, “you don’t think…” Sure enough, the car doors opened and two sunglass-wearing shiny headed policemen stepped out of their cars, hands resting on their glocks, and said “Come down slowly!”

I have to interject here and say that the two of us are bearded men, and we were smoking from briar pipes, not scrawny teenagers puffing on glass bongs. I’m sure you can see where this is going.

Not looking for a fight, the both of started descending the stairs slowly and holding our hands (and pipes) in that awkward “I don’t have a gun” sort of fashion. This apparently wasn’t good enough, because the officer with the shinier of the two heads then said:

“Put down the pipes!”

“They’re tobacco pipes, officer, we don’t-”

“I said put them down!”

Don't Scratch My Pipe

We looked at each other, then at our precious Stephen Downie commissioned briars, then at the gravelly parking area we were standing in. Oh, the humanity! I think we both silently asked God to forgive us for what we were about to do, then in what must have been the most obnoxiously slow and cautious way the officers had ever seen, we began sweeping the parking lot with our hands and trying to make a suitable spot on the asphalt on which to lay our pipes. After gingerly laying them on the ground, and wincing at the thought, we stood up again to see the puzzled looks on their faces. Hands still on their pistols, the shinier one again piped up, in a slightly more relaxed tone:

Officer: “What do you think you’re doing?”

Us: “We’re smoking; these are tobacco pipes.”

Officer: “Show me.”

Oh, great! You made us put them on the asphalt and now you want to see them! We were both mad but we held our tongues. Picking them up again, we showed them the inside of the bowls. It only took a sniff for them to realize we were telling the truth. Not to lose face, he said “Someone called us in…said you were smoking pot out here. Why don’t you use a little common sense and keep it in the house next time.” We didn’t know what to say. It’s our legal right to smoke outdoors, but there was no point arguing. We mumbled something of a confirmation, and that was that. They got back in their cars and left.

Sadly, we had to find a new smoking spot.

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What are your thoughts? Share them below!

Comments (7)

  1. rinabinette 4 years ago

    I wish that I could visit with you on the deck to smoke a bowl. I think that you should invite as many pipe smoking friends as the deck can hold. Don’t back down an inch. It is your place to smoke isn’t it? I know that it would be hard to find an old “boom box” radio, but I would also suggest playing a loud rendition of Flogging Molly “Kiss My Irish Ass” to set the mood. Note: One does not necessarily need to be Irish to play the song.

  2. Larry Betson 6 years ago

    That place in the pictures looks like Haddonfield, NJ in South Jersey. I live right down the street from there. Good story by the way. I go out for a quick pipe smoke at work in Philadelphia every once a while I have people doing double takes…no real trouble thus far. I believe my neighbors think I’m sitting on the porch smoking dope though….oh well. Gone are the days when smoking tobacco was a good thing.

  3. Tragic Christian 6 years ago

    One summer, back home from college, four of us decided to spend an evening cruising the avenue in my friend’s dad’s Caddy, followed by going to this natural spring outside of town to drink water, smoke, and talk (yes, we did that!) I packed a billiard briar and a Sierra Club cup, the metal kind that can hook onto your belt. At one point, after grabbing a burger, my friend pulled the Caddy out just a little too close to a police car, which fired up its lights and pulled us over. One by one, they asked us to leave the car and inspected us. The driver was a pipe smoker, too, so they thoroughly inspected his kit. Then they inspected mine, giving particular scrutiny to the Sierra Club cup, which I’m sure they thought was some kind of drug paraphernalia. My other friend had to pull his low-tar Merits out of his pocket for their inspection. Only one of us didn’t get pulled out of the car — my angelic-faced friend, who, while we were being searched, stuffed a glass jar full of doobies that we didn’t know he had into the crack of the back seat.

  4. Wow….that is pretty amazing 🙂

  5. Rey Guevara 6 years ago

    I was about an hour early for a get together at a dance hall on a Saturday night, so I decided to smoke a bowl in my truck. I was parked far enough from the dance hall that I was closer to a bar across the street. A lady, who was by all accounts pretty buzzed, shouted something along the lines of, “Woo! Smokin’ a bowl! Save some for me!” I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t a fan of English tobacco.

  6. Adam Anglin 6 years ago

    i don’t know why we get such looks and people thinking we are smoking pot. On numerous occasions i get the look of what the heck do you think you are doing smoking pot in public. They have this immediate stigma of pipes. It’s so frustrating. Also I cringed at the part of setting your pipes on the parking lot…i cant even imagine setting my Savinelli Bing’s favorite anywhere like that…

  7. Similar to your bio saying that you’ve been intrigued and enticed by the briar since the age of 15, my father introduced me to the hobby at quite a young age as well. Naturally, whether I was with him or not, I would try and sneak his pipe out of his box and pack a bowl by myself or with a friend. Good old “illicit” fun.

    Well, when I got my license, we would grab “my” car and my dad’s pipe and push the car far enough so I could start it up without them hearing it. Though there was no run in with the cops, nor did my parents find out until I’ve told them recently about the events of the past, the simple thrill of being so sneaky might be one of the reasons the pipe still brings me so much nostalgia and joy, even though I’ve only smoke for 4 years.

    It’ll be exciting to sit down on my screened in porch with some grandkids running around and to reflect on the true nostalgic memories I’ve already formed, and have yet to form that have been so greatly influenced by the briar and leaf.

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