Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Wilderness Years - Here It Comes

Timelines are over-rated as a means of telling stories and for this particular story they always seem a little fuzzy, the proper dates, it seems, come drifting into my mind sometime between the hours of 3AM and 5AM where i really can't be arsed to get up and write shit down. Yes i know all those Beat writers kept a notebook by their bed but i'm more in the "hope this comes back to me when i wake up" school then the i better get this shit down school, the Buddhist in me says it's all impermanence so don't worry about it, it'll come back... or it won't.  And so here we are. A bit of a rewind to go forward. 

Back in the straight world of legit jobs i was on the hunt for a new gig. As noted previously my current boss didn't want to pay me the whopping $7.75/hr and hand me the title of assistant warehouse grunt. Of course the facts are that i was usually good for a call-off every week or two at this point, the real gig of slinging providing me more than enough money to live off but of course with the square gig providing a paycheck that covered the bills the fact was that if i lost one or the other the money would get tight pretty quick. So after four years of being able to walk or ride my bike to work i began looking for a new job. Not any career type gig mind you but another warehouse gig that paid more, this time in an HVAC/plumbing supply place over on the North Side. My $400 car giving me the mobility to actually take a job i had to drive to and my commute being a gorgeous early morning trip through me favorite barrios and stomping grounds before a brief stint on a highway and then exiting into the hood. The new gig was in one of those industrial zoned wastelands, home to trucking companies and light industry, gay bars and the odd strip club. It was the kind of place that most people didn't know was there unless you had to know it was there. 

So after four years at the party store warehouse i gave my notice, threatened to beat the shit out of the owner (which i regretted later on) and was on my way, not exactly upwards but you know somewhere. This gig was to last almost 18 months but let us not get too far ahead of ourselves. When i had taken on this gig i was winding down my run with Max and Ruby. Of course the real business of warehouses everywhere is the drug trade. There is usually someone in every joint that, back in the late 90's early aughts, had access to weed, coke, pills and anything else you might want. Granted the level of fuck-ups involved was high but depending on what you were looking for you could probably get it. The blow would be heavily stepped on and the weed would be brown brick but it could be had. Usually it was over-priced and sometimes resulted in bruised feelings or fist fights along with accusations of being ripped off but alas after all that you'd see the same guys doing the same deals a week later. The warehouses of the world are not usually known to be home to the intelligent working stiff although they can be found and are usually greeted with wariness by the den of thieves and scammers roaming it's aisles. When guys heard i was a college educated weirdo who sometimes dropped strange words into my sentences the craftier ones knew something was probably up. And they were right. 

And here's were the haze comes in. The new job coincided with the end of Max and Ruby and the new deal with Stiv. With the need and opportunity to move more gear it seemed like a good time to add new clients.  I gave it a couple weeks but seeing how after the first week i would come in with the remnants of a hangover and usually stoned it didn't take long for those kindred spirits to start talking. When the topic of weed came up it would be the usual hushed query in a back aisle, "you burn?", then of course the talk would turn to could you get any? was it good? how much? Being the enterprising young man i was i usually kicked a dime bag, or as i called it, my sample bag, to my potential new customers for free. They'd smell the goodness and be giggling with excitement most of the time, by the time they came back in the next day i'd have to tell them to be fucking cool and we'd talk, fact is they didn't know how professional i was and when they'd ask when they could get some i'd tell them "today". I have some with me. The hook, the line, the sinker, you've just been added to my payroll my dear co-worker. And so it began. 

Within about the first month or so i had taken over warehouse weed sales at the new job. There was an older guy who worked at the sales counter out front named Barry, i could tell Barry partied and he seemed to be a pretty cool guy. One day while we were standing in the same aisle when he looked over and said, "you're the guy who stole all my customers." I grinned and feigned ignorance, he laughed and  continued, "don't worry man i'm cool, i was just wondering if i could get in on the action, i heard the stuff is pretty good." No problem i said and we exchanged numbers. Things were moving right along. When i met Barry at the bar a few days later he grabbed an ounce and told me how he moved stuff so he could smoke for free, maybe make a little extra cash. He laughed as he told me he usually bought stuff from his son but that his kid liked to gouge him and so we talked weight and price. Barry was interested in quarter pounds and wondered if i could do that? I sure could i said and when i told him the price he smiled and said that was a lot less than his kid's and that we had a deal. To save a him a quarter pound for early next week and we'd go from there. Barry was a fucking nutter. I liked him. 

Physically the new job could be demanding. It was the usual lumpen-prole grind of semi-mindless drudgery and i was placed into the receiving department where we'd unload trucks and put up the stock. It fit me more than the order fillers who ran around like mad to make quotas and earn bonuses. Of course the receiving department played second fiddle to the order fillers. The usual corporate edict of get as much product out as fast as possible hence we had to wait if the order crew were doing something and we needed to be in that aisle. I'd be on a Cherry Picker, a piece of machinery that lifted you 30-40 feet in the air, tossing 50-75 lb. boxes of metal pipe fitting onto shelves while the whole contraption swayed. It wasn't exactly enjoyable but it got you in shape. Looking back i realize that my scoffing at overtime was probably a bit of a tip off that this wasn't my main source of income. Most everyone else in the place loved overtime while the manager did his best to limit it as best he could. Overtime in the receiving department was rare but when it cropped up i usually made up an excuse as to why i couldn't stay. If i was forced to i'd give them an hour tops before punching out and heading to the real job. How do you explain to the squares in management that the whopping extra $13.50 that i would make per hour and be taxed on was nothing to me? That i could make ten times that in the same amount of time sitting at home or in a bar? 

With the groundwork laid the new job became not just a gig but a place where i'd do business. It didn't take long before i was moving a couple of ounces a week while i was at work and that wasn't even counting Barry and his quarter pound. Barry was damn near giddy as he told me how people loved this shit. He was moving it so fast that he had a giant head stash and was making a couple extra bills a week. Even better, it pissed off his kid to no end that his old man now had a better connection, that had better weed, and at a better price. Barry explained that his kid wanted to meet me. I told him that shouldn't be a problem. He than said he was going to wait for a bit longer, after being gouged by his kid he enjoyed having the upper hand for once. I laughed and bought him another beer. 

1 comment:

looby said...

Fascinating again kono!