What Crack Taught Me About Decisions

My first business was as a crack salesman. This was after the crack bubble had burst; it wasn’t like the glory days of the 80’s. I guess technically, my very first business was shoveling snow, but that work is obviously seasonal. After a certain age, the competition is thick. There is also something unsettling about competing with younger kids for money; it was tolerable before I left for college, but not when I came back home.

My investment was less than $100. I didn’t buy powder cocaine. I bought a cooked rock of what I assumed to be acceptable quality. I bought some 38×38’s from the corner store (they were very small baggies that would house $5 worth of product).  It turns out that I wasn’t ruthless enough for that game, though.  I broke 1 of the 10 Crack Commandments–I extended credit. When it came time to play enforcer on behalf of my enterprise, I gave in to the temptation to let the guy walk away on day 1. We’d had him at an unfair advantage due to our numbers, & I had known him since I was a small boy. I used to call the man “Mr. ______” when I was growing up, & it just didn’t feel right to unleash the type of violence on him that we thought was necessary to send the appropriate message.  Upon analysis of that situation, I realized that I’d have to be willing to become much more vicious. I did not mind that so much, because I was entering my own stage of rebellion-driven rage & righteous frustration. I didn’t want to do a bid for terrorizing crackheads, however, especially since I was not making much money at it.

I learned key lessons from the beginning of that venture. Since I couldn’t cook it up myself because I didn’t have my own spot to do it in, I was being supplied with cooked product from my friend. We were both making attempts to get into the character of what we thought a successful drug dealer was, so I was not surprised when a small dispute resulted in him revealing a gun in his waistband. I was not afraid–mainly because I thought it wasn’t real. I figured that even if it was, he wouldn’t shoot me, & I was fairly confident that I’d whoop his ass if it went there.  I told him from the upstairs window that I was coming down. He headed across the street & towards the breezeway to the alley. At the time I thought he was running away; it dawned on me as I reached the breezeway that there were less witnesses back here.

“So what’s up?” I asked him casually, like he’d called to tell me that he had to tell me something. I figured that since he was the one with the gun, I’d let him set the tone (I didn’t have one to take with me, & I’m not sure that I would have if I did; I considered him my friend, though we’d found plenty occasions to bicker).

“So what’s up?” He was in control; he did not feel obligated to do anything except react.

“So, what, you gon’ shoot me?” He didn’t respond.  Sensing that he didn’t fully intend to shoot me, I took the liberty to spout off at the mouth some more. At some point in my tirade, I expressed that I didn’t believe the gun was real because I didn’t believe he had the balls to pull a real gun on me.  I took the gun & put it to my head; I was going to pull the trigger to make my point.

I stood there with the gun to my head, & he waited to see what I’d do. I don’t think he really wanted to see me do it, but I could sense a morbid type of curiosity in his stare. There was also nonchalance, though, which caused me to further believe that the revolver, heavy as it was, was just a toy.  If it was fake & I didn’t pull the trigger out of fear, I’d lose; if it was real & I pulled the trigger, I’d lose; if it wasn’t real, I’d win little more than my own satisfaction, which would probably evaporate before I reached my front door.  Upon weighing those options & seeing that there wasn’t much for me to gain no matter which road I went down, I just chalked it & walked away.

It turns out the gun was real.

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One Comment on “What Crack Taught Me About Decisions”

  1. Christiana says:

    I’m definitely glad you didn’t pull the trigger (obviously)! You’re a good storyteller; I was definitely engaged.


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