Rules for Visiting a Cigar Lounge
I know the vast majority of you don't need this, and I'm sure a few will feel my pain. Others will come to the conclusion that I'm an impatient, insufferable prick. Both parties, fortunately, will be correct. But, it needs to be explained. If you happen to be traveling and walk into a cigar shop far from the one you call home, there are rules to follow. A lot of this is going to seem like common sense, but each is grounded in unfortunate reality. Remember, a good find for you may be daily life for the people already there.
The greatest transgression, at least among the regulars where I smoke, is to walk in off the street and open with some variation of, "This is great! It's like an oasis! It's nice to have a place where we can smoke ..." You may feel all these things, probably for good reason. The people to whom you are telling this are probably fully aware of what you've observed. They come to the shop regularly, sometimes every day. They know it's a great place to smoke and are happy to be there. And, they probably hear your speech from a different person nearly every day. It's not your fault, but it does get tiresome.
This may just be a New York phenomenon, but if you've tried talking to three people who obviously aren't interested, don't move on to the fourth. They may seem unfriendly – they may be unfriendly – but a concerted campaign to make them care about what's on your mind is likely to end in failure. Likewise, if you see a few people talking, don't insert yourself into their conversation. If they want to include you, they will. Just sit back, and wait for the conversation to evolve. When things progress naturally, you'll likely find yourself a part of the action without having to create it.
Often, one will enter a shop or lounge and feel the need to impress. Honestly, I understand. Cigar shops are dens of alpha males, with each measuring his manhood against the others. Regulars are notorious for this behavior, which is often tongue-in-cheek. When you jump into the fray, you change the dynamic from friendly ball-busting to heated competition, and you may find that those around you aren't interested in the latter. Don't broadcast your net worth, the loftiness of your title at work or the fact that you only smoke a high-priced upscale brand.
Another corollary: don't yell into your cell phone – clearly for the "benefit" of everyone around you – to broadcast your importance. Before you know it, a line will form in front of the store's manager, demanding your removal.
Chronic complainers are unwelcome almost anywhere. The people around you have problems too, and they're trying to escape them. So, when you push through the doors and start to talk about your recent layoff (a) why are you spending money on cigars? and (b) nobody cares. We didn't fire you. We aren't going to hire you. This is a non-starter.
Like the job-hunters, some view cigar shops as commercial centers ... and they can be. They are great places to network, and many people find a lot of success this way. But, there are boundaries. If you show up at a lounge for the first time, it's probably unwise to start pitching your new business to the many "potential investors" around you. Be realistic. If you stood out on the sidewalk and solicited random passers by, how would they respond? The cigar shop is no different. Likewise, don't start selling your product or service. Nobody lit up a cigar to attend a timeshare presentation, and it's a bit rude to make them endure one from a stranger.
Perhaps the most idiotic mistake is to strut into a lounge with your own cigars. You pull one from your bag, cut one end and ignite the other. Then, when a staff member approaches you, you act indignant. The store has rent and wages to pay. Be sensitive to this fact. Either buy a cigar, or offer to pay a cutting fee.
And, a special tip for Europeans: Cuban cigars are illegal in the United States. Don't ask for one. Don't demand one. Don't explain that they are legal back home. None of this will change the reply from the employees. The longer you take, the longer the people behind you will have to wait, which will contribute to a chilly reception when you take your seat in the lounge.
Keep these tips in mind, and you'll have a great time at any cigar lounge you enter. Most of it is common courtesy, but many seem to leave that in their hotel rooms before walking over to the nearest cigar shop. Behave reasonably, and you'll be welcomed warmly in just about any establishment.