Anyone who doesn’t think drug dealing isn’t also boring as shit has the wrong idea. Jobs get stall; you are qualified for something and you repeat it until you reach a level of routine; then you realize you live in a routine; you either work with knowing, benefit of it or you get stuck senselessly revolting to break the cage open, but trapped on a planet, in a space, in life, you do what you have to do. I personally believe all jobs get stale and, in this regard, drug dealing, after all, got stall as well. Most of the time, the same people were supplied. They were a chosen, decent bunch of people and there was only a risk involved when new customers were first met. Astonishingly for this disfavored business, there were very few crooks, and we kept the dealing to a minimum. This wasn’t Scarface. We had no power, so we were careful when we brought new clients in. Even the chosen ones were not allowed to stay for too long at a time, but long enough so that it looked like a friendly visit and never more than one person in the apartment in order not to provoke arguments among our customers. Not that we’ve often had problems with that. Ätz presence was intimidating enough for most small-time criminals. The limited access was a seller sided advantage. It’s not easy getting drugs. You have to be invited on the inside to know how you’re getting them, consequently you can put your customers through any inconvenience that you deem necessary to ensure your own safety.
Conclude the whole world is full of dealers, only they don’t sell you weed, they try with happiness. I got what I expected from the weed, I got nothing from an expensive watch. I didn’t understand the others in that respect and they didn’t understand me, but I did understand their ignorance. Illegal drugs were not exactly advertised on television and there were no licensed shops selling psychotropic substances, but 247 million people (as of the date of my last made google search – 2017) could not be wrong. Get out. Find your drug dealer, show him how much you value the freedom of choice and respect him by adding an extra baggie to your order
Life was too short for me not to explore at least another angle of consciousness. And if you think you’re better now than me because you don’t need to, you may be right, but we’ll see who got the most out of his life in the end: I with my twisted experience with drugs or you with your straight workday, planned into the detail travels, Yoga and ginger tea. You couldn’t prove your fulfilled life to me with the money. You couldn’t prove it to me with words.
Shortly after I started, I was earning more than the average citizen with a workload that came close to driving to work in the morning. That was the undeserved bonus induced by the circumstances. Ban drives the prices higher, because the offer contains risk and because the need does not disappear when one swings the finger back and forth in front of your face, warned with a “Nah-nah-nah”, it is capitalism 101 from there on onward. Even a fool could easily earn good money with it if he knew someone. Chang once told me that hemp was only banned centuries ago because it was cheaper to produce than linen and because the Linen fabric producers feared for their yield, they brought the government under pressure to ban it. Lobbyism against a plant. It would be wrong to think that this injustice gave me the excuse to justify my joint-venture with Ätz. I sold weed with him long before I’d heard it but had to laugh when I finally did and wished to thank the merchants of the textile industry from centuries ago. Ten euros per gram was a good price and without the ban, the fabric that can literally grow in any garden would have been hard to sell.
In practice, it actually worked quite simply. It mimed the real world closely up to the taxes, but because there was also no inflation, the final price of the product over the time I was there always stayed the same. 10€ for a gram if you sell directly to the end consumer. When you get from the supplier, it’s usually half the price. From this, I concluded that the plants are strong, endure a lot, don’t need a lot of attention beyond the initial setup and above all yield a lot. So, you’re buying and you are making a 100% profit on every little thing you sell. You give volume discounts if you wanted to get rid of a lot at once. Or if you had something special, the Dutch are a high-tech country in this respect, you could demand more. We made easily 1000 to 1500 euros a week and the job consisted mainly of waiting for customers, packing goods, getting change, waiting. It was like being in a bookstore after all. Except there were no rules. Not for us, which meant we were always high, watching TV, playing XBOX, but also not for our customers, which as I was told was the reason for the knife in Ätz´s reach.
I’d never done anything really illegal before. Sure, I got into fights, but I was never reported and never saw myself swinging before the first punch was dished. This was then called self-defense and I was able to invoke the right to defend my health, not that we would call the police. I don’t trust them. I didn’t find them to be competent. In my childhood, I had heard many myths about drug abuse and selling and many did not come true in practice. Heroin, for example, is not addictive the first time. It makes you sick, you feel sick. To get high from it, you have to take it several times. Also, that some dealers should add the hard stuff to the weed was an old wife’s tale told to children to keep them away from it. When I spoke to Ätz about it, he laughed.
“Why don’t you cut it down with something harder? Yeah, to make it more addictive… heroin or something”
“Because heroin sucks, is expensive and if I did, I’d have to give them some every time. That’s no way to make money”
He was crouching with laughter. When someone tells you that his dealer cuts weed with heroin, he was either a Poser without a clue or his drug dealer didn’t sell to make a profit. The goal of drug dealing, like any other professional business, is to strike a balance between giving up as little as possible while earning as much as possible. You don’t get a bathtub for free when you get a toaster from the electronics store, why would you get free Heroin when you buy weed?
As I said, the people who bought and sold were for the most part, not bad people. The problems came down to money. You cheat on each other as much as you could.
We screwed every new customer we bagged until they addressed us about it. If they bought four grams, they got 3. 6 grams. If they bought a decagram, we gave them 9. 5 grams, and so on. Cheating was a common business practice. There were countless tricks developed for simple use. For example, to mix the marijuana dust with sand to increase the weight on the scales – a classic. The scales also could be manipulated with coins. Unprofessionals stuck copper coins under the bowl to increase the weight. Weighing down the bottom though was less common because many insisted on being allowed to watch the scale. Ätz allowed them to, if they insisted, like an honest businessman with nothing to hide would.
That Ätz hardly cheated his regular customers was the Unique selling point of his business. He was friendly and willing to give and relied on that his good relationships would one day enable him to get a carte blanche, a COME OUT OF JAIL FREE card. The friendly dealer from the neighborhood. The Coca Cola of the illegal drug trade. We were your second family. We had values. You could count on us.
A homeless guy slept on the stone floor in the station. He had chosen a newspaper as his mattress. 3 pm and the guy laid there on his stomach enjoying the cold tiles in the summer sun. I wasn’t even sure if he was still breathing, but it wasn’t my problem. If he was dead, I couldn’t revive him, and I completely lacked the know-how to help him. If he had had a hangover, I suppose in the best case he had one, I could have helped him, but I didn’t know how to stabilize anything. The best example was my life. I had to move on, I was carrying a gym bag full of weed.
I sat down on a bench on the platform. In the dung bucket next to me the garbage piled up, at the top like the cherry on the hot fudge sundae was a paper bag from McDonald’s. I was hungry, so I promised I’d get something when I got home. I got on the subway. Sat on one of the pairs of seats and stared at the floor. I put my travel bag on the seat next to me. I couldn’t detect any escaping odor. To be on the safe side I pulled the zipper tighter again and when my paranoia seemed satisfied, I could make myself comfortable in the chair. I had never seen a single policeman in the city train in the years that I had been here. They didn’t even have a ticket inspector. There were only passengers sitting in it and from the sight the seats sometimes gave away, some of them obviously descended from pigs. I only notice it, no criticism, because without the pollution there would be no more single neglected shoes standing around in on the side of the road and cheering up my mind as I pass by.
“There are only so many emotions, and people tend to react to things in a certain way. Because if we were always random, there would be no such thing as a personality. Doesn’t that mean every human being is in essence predictable?”
“What did you just say?”
“What?” I asked him and blinked once. From Ätz I got only one “Uhm?”. Something moved inside me. I felt my shoulder blades. I felt a pinch in my crotch. But all of this was overshadowed by a feeding frenzy. Greedy and already in a position to leave all necessary travel distances behind me, I asked Ätz, “Are there any chips left?”
“I hid some in the kitchen behind the bowls”
“Why is that?”
“When I got snacks lying around like usual, somebody would open them up during the day”
“Greedy Pothead folk”
“How was your work trip?”
“Boring as ever,” I said.
“Next time, I’ll come with you”
“You don’t have to…why put yourself at risk?”
I searched the said closet and found the bag of chips
“Okay”, said Ätz.
I sat down again with him on the couch and he handed me another joint. We smoked, and we talked. We talked about the past and Ätz told me about his childhood.
“When my father ran away, my brother was not born yet, and I was four, she stood before nothing. She had no job, no savings, nothing. Our first apartment, she financed, where the landlord came by if he wanted. He brought food with him when he visited her. Mostly McDonald’s. My mother sat me down in front of the TV, I ate, watched what I wanted and she said I should not hesitate to make a sound if there was anything wrong with Baby Paul. Then they went next door and I had to turn up the volume of the TV to a level that was usually higher than allowed by my mother”
“Have you ever heard anything?”
“Why do you want to know, pervert?”
“Come down, it was just a question”
I gave him the joint.
“No, I didn’t hear anything. I also went to the door when it was necessary, but when Paul got louder, my mom always came sprinting immediately”
“How long were those two?”
He gave it to me while he answered. I dressed.
“Inside? A good five minutes, then they sat down with us, we ate together, watched TV and then the landlord disappeared until next time” said Ätz.
He laughed at how refreshing it was that I laughed at his pain. He made a stupid comment that sometimes the bedroom door opened as fast as it was closed. I swallowed and almost choked on smoke with laughter. I coughed myself out and when I had calmed down again, I passed the joint on and I said to him, “I actually meant together as a…couple?”.
He took a deep breath, the smoke ran out of his mouth at ”A few months”, he blew his lung empty and went on, “She found a job as a secretary for a doctor, and we moved out. The whole thing went well for a while, then we got older and then the money wasn’t good enough again”
His voice got serious, “She met someone who gave her a helping hand”. Ätz shook his hand from himself as if he wanted to shake the guy out of his thoughts.
“I was outside this country once in my life. We went to the sea for three days, just the three of us, in the summer before I went to school”
“Who was that guy?” I asked him.
“A pussy wanker who’ll hopefully never come under my eyes again”
I kept it that way. The joint in his had gone out of the conversation. He gave it to me, I set it on fire, took a drag, nobody said anything. I blew the smoke in the mist floating the room and leaned back. I took a few more moves, passed on and asked him openly what was going through my mind during the silence.
“Do you think you could forgive your mother if she drowned you and your brother in a river out of desperation?”
He didn’t hesitate, didn’t think, didn’t fight with himself, “Yes” he said, and we laughed.
Soon after I had the money together, so I wouldn’t have to live on a couch anymore. I moved into a small apartment. I had a kitchen-living-bedroom combination, in this room, one could go once around the corner and had seen almost everything. There was a bath. I had a balcony, too. There was a fly screen fixed on the inside of the glass door. It reminded me of the one from my childhood. Passed the fly screen was the way to the garden.
In my first night, I had no furniture, just a mattress on the floor. I drank a bottle of scotch that Ätz had given me and smoked a joint. I thought about how far I’d come when I fell asleep in the empty apartment.