It was a bitterly cold 2018 Groundhog Day morning in central Iowa as I commuted to work, but there’s nothing like a great sighting to warm up a fetisher’s spirit and I would get the opening salvo of one at a red light at a major intersection in Des Moines. I saw the silhouette of a dark brunette behind the wheel of an SUV with her window cracked who drew my attention, as I knew she wouldn’t have her window open on a 3-degree morning unless tobacco was being consumed. It was approaching dawn but still quite dark so I didn’t get a good look at her, but as I watched her SUV take a left-hand turn into a gas station just down the block, I decided I had a few minutes to kill before I got to work and made the same left-hand turn into the gas station lot.
I saw where she parked the SUV and was lucky enough to pull into an open stall next to her, getting my first good look at her and quickly discovering she was worth my time. As her silhouette at the traffic light indicated, she was a dark brunette with distinguished beautiful features, looking about 22 years old. And indeed, a freshly lit cork filter cigarette was nestled between the fingers of her left hand as she feverishly texted with her right hand. The texting was a useful distraction as it allowed me to watch unnoticed every time she took a drag. The cigarette would approach her mouth and the break-of-dawn lighting provided perfect context to notice the bright red cherry glow with her drags while still being light enough to see her face. The smoke flowed straight ahead from her mouth after those nice, glowing drags and she ashed at timely intervals in between drags.
The whole show played out beautifully for about three or four minutes, and I sat there wondering if she was a worker finishing her last cigarette before going in to start her workday….or if she was just a customer relaxing with a cigarette before heading inside to maybe buy more cigarettes. Instead, she just tossed that cork filter cigarette butt out her window into the parking lot and pulled out. She must have just pulled over to send texts and smoke, and was now heading to work or school. Seconds after she pulled out, I got outside of my car to see if I could get a butt ID on her discarded cork filter, but it was smoked too close to the filter for me to notice. I proceeded to work and still made it with time to spare. It sure would make the misery of heading to work before daylight in the bitter cold of an Iowa winter if I was able to get a sighting like this every morning on my commute!!