These are interesting times we live in. Yeah, you’ve heard it 100 times. Make that 101 now. You’ve also heard of “Social Distancing,” haven’t you? What does that mean? Are we not supposed to talk to anyone? Make no phone calls? Post no updates on social media? If this novel coronavirus can’t travel a distance of 6 feet via water droplets, why are we being asked to socially distance and not physically distance ourselves? Many communities, much like our own pipe collectors’ community, thrive on meet-ups, sharing of experiences and maybe even some tobaccos and libations.
A big part of pipe shows and pipe clubs is the social aspect of the hobby. As soon as I get on Instagram, I’m flooded with beautiful artisan made pipes. I can go to eBay or other marketplaces to peruse estate pipes, but the social aspect of the hobby is what we’re really missing right now. We can’t walk up to a table and pick up a pipe or talk to the seller about its provenance or maybe negotiate a trade or sale. In Chicago, the tent, bar, McArdle suite or even exhibitor rooms were a place of social gathering AND pipe banter. We could share a beer with our friends from abroad. Yes, pipes often exchange hands at shows, but it’s the social aspect that kept us returning to Chicago for 25 years.
How are we maintaining that in this era of “Social Distancing?” Companies have moved to Zoom, GoTo Meetings, WebEx and Microsoft Teams. Why can’t this community do the same? My work team often video conferences throughout the day on various work-related tasks, but we also get together after work to have a drink in each other’s company, even if that means we’re not in the same physical room. Why can’t we smoke in the same way? Technology can help with distancing AND remaining social. This is just an opportunity for the club to grow in different ways. Maybe when our next CPCC meeting is virtual, we might get some attendees from across the globe. We can hear more from our brethren and what their experiences are while still breaking out our fancy pipes to smoke. What could be even better, is you can smoke what you like and no one will comment on the room note!
Please, continue to maintain a physical distance and follow the CDC / WHO guidelines. But those guidelines don’t say anything about hanging out virtually with friends and sharing a drink & smoke.