There's no smoke without chimney

. 2 min read

Once when I was little, I called this radio program where they asked children to finish a common idiom. If the child got it right, he won a prize. I didn't know in advance what the idiom would be, and the phone call was aired live, so I remember being a little nervous. I called the number. I got through. The host greeted me and gave me the beginning of the idiom, which was: "there's no smoke without..."

And I, the clever little devil that I was, replied: "chimney!"

I guess I had never heard of "no smoke without fire" in my entire life at that point, because chimney was the first thing that came to my mind and I decided to go with that. (Because if the answer comes to you immediately, it has to be right, right?) I must have put the host in a tough spot - they had, naturally, assumed that anyone, no matter how young, would answer this correctly - and now they should have declined the prize from me in a live program! They quickly saved face and agreed to give me the prize anyway.

What makes this incident worth writing an article about is the out-of-the-box idea I apparently already had in my childhood. You'd think that fire is a necessary requirement for fire. You've heard the idiom so many times that you take it for given. But the way I seem to have seen it was that fire isn't a natural occurence in nature - it requires a human to produce it. Chimneys do not grow in the ground or appear without human effort in nature. It has to be built out of raw materials. It has a function - taking the smoke out of the fireplace so the people inside the house won't suffocate.

So the way I saw it was that fires only exist in fireplaces, and smoke is only produced by fires in fireplaces. I saw fire and its byproduct as the servant for humans, not as the master.

For me, fire was a tool to be used in the production of goods. Fire was not to be feared, but to be taken advantage of. So naturally, if smoke occurred, it meant - well, fire, yes - but more fundamentally, that someone was producing something, because the chimney was carrying the smoke out of the close proximity of the respiratory system of the producer.

Producer mentality for the win!


P.S. Okay, this was only hypothetical - I don't actually remember what I thought about producing goods with the help of fire back then, if anything. But my refrasing of the idiom could have implied some sort inclination to a producer mentality later in life, couldn't it?