This Incredibly Simple Life Hack Will Make Your Life Better


Want to do your mind and body and romantic prospects and mental health and future career the ultimate favor? I’ve got the life hack you’ve been waiting for.

There’s minimal but mounting scientific proof that it’ll work, and though there is certainly one important and awful (but, it’s important to note, statistically quantifiable!) deleterious effect of this hack, this is mostly about harm reduction and giving yourself a chance at a happier, more connected, though perhaps slightly smellier, life.

Ok, glad you’re on board. Listen carefully, because this is a secret that you’ll only get here.

First, grab your phone. (Oh! You’re already holding it! Silly me!)

Open the maps app. As if you don’t already, permit the device to access your location. Get the directions to the nearest upstanding convenience store, heretofore known as your UCS. (No sketchy dens of iniquity! Let’s stay safe, Chargers.)

Next, if you’re at school and under the age of 19, sign yourself out with Ms. Jones, Crawford, or Yzaguirre for “an appointment.” You can deal with the email message to your parents later. (My guess is, at that point, you’ll be much more relaxed.) If you’re an adult—this hack isn’t just for the Genzee-ers here!—mention to a colleague that you’re headed out to pick up a prescription. (A prescription for life, my friends!)

Walk/drive (depending on your transportational reality/economic class/environmental qualms/current grounded-ungrounded status) to the nearest UCS. It’s Academy, so you are generally not on a bike, unless you are Mr. Knutson, Ovitt, Packer, or Wilkinson (who come to think of it are unlikely to need this hack). It’s Albuquerque, so the bus is only an option every fifth hour. It’s America, so the walk will be long.

Once you’ve arrived at the UCS, you’ll need to compose yourself, especially if you’ve walked.  Prepare yourself mentally for one of the bravest things you’ll ever do. Remove your hood and earbuds. Perhaps take out your phone and send a quick Snap to your peeps; it will be the last one you ever send. Let your parents know where you are, and consider thanking them for their support. They might be a little mad about your decision, but tell them it’s for the best, and that you’ll be sure to always stay outside.

You’ll need to be sure to switch off all security devices on the phone. Eliminate the security code or pattern; disable the thumbprint or face detector. This will be important later. In fact, try a factory reset, if you have the gumption.

Then, open the steel-barred door to your future.

Walk immediately to the UCS’s colorful front counter. Smile at the well-meaning clerk.

And now, here’s where the real skill comes in, for you must execute this next part in a way that will actually achieve your mission. This is no symbolic gesture! You’ll need to come across as sincere enough to be taken seriously, but nonchalant enough that the clerk will accept your proposal without fear of some larger reprisal.

You might begin with an admission: “Ok, this is going to sound a little weird, but I’m serious…”

Lay your phone down on the counter. Slide it toward the clerk. Then say these words:

“Will you take this phone as a trade for a pack of Marlboro Reds?”

Obviously, the clerk will ask a series of questions, maybe even laugh. Insist that you’re serious. Show them that you’ve done the factory reset. Maybe quote resell prices on Craigslist. Insist that this is all above board.

Eventually they’ll relent. Remember, this is about saving your life, or at least attempting to have one. Don’t take no for an answer.

Don’t worry, I’ve foreseen your protest. We must acknowledge that there’s a serious hurdle. The clerk might heartily agree to the trade, but, you know, hands are tied and all that stuff: there’s a sign that says no tobacco sales to minors. Here’s where you younguns have to be brave. I’d encourage you to raise your voice, not in anger, but in a kind of rallying cry:

“You mean because I’m not 21 I have no right to choose how to destroy my health? You mean I have to accept the only method I’m given?”

Don’t hold in the tears if they come.

If the clerk can’t help, maybe a guilty adult will appear from the UCS’s Cheetos aisle and offer to buy the Marlboros and trade with you. They have, after all, likely distributed plenty of phones to minors already.

If you’re an adult (for whom picking your poison is not just permitted, but commercially necessary) this should all go off quite well.

For the neophyte cigarette user: Pyramids are cheap and quick (we called ‘em P-funks when I was younger and healthier), Menthols are a little like a plan upgrade, for those interested in the higher speeds and more elaborate technology, and Lucky Strikes contain exotic ingredients like shreds of old cowboy boots. The more discerning palate might ask for American Spirits, which claim to be natural. The type or brand doesn’t matter; they’ll all successfully hook you (though you’ll have to grind through a few packs before you level up) and kill you at some point, though, in the latter case, it’ll be a while, and between now and then you’ll make some friends and finish some assignments and fall in love and see a few concerts and have a heartfelt conversation with your mother (if she, too, commits to this life hack), and you’ll not hear that awful news about that One Awful Thing that Happened in the Unending Chain of Awfulness and you’ll possibly be struck to the core by the iridescent beauty of a Tuesday morning that you’re now actually likely to remember (along with the thousand other tiny, neglected, unSnappable lovelinesses that leap about your feet daily) for a very long time and, maybe, you’ll even quit smoking long before this particular addiction shuffles you off this mortal coil.

All jokes aside: if you follow this life hack, your prospects for a better mood and chances of kicking the habit go way, way up.