Last week I was hanging out at the local dive bar drinking my gin and tonic and the guy next to me was complaining about how he’d lost his weed. He started pulling everything out of his pockets and dumping them on the bar, crumpled wads of cash, cell phone, headphones, note papers, etc, but couldn’t find his pot. He finally gave up and went out for a cigarette. He came back in and told me that he had just accidentally bought some crack. Someone outside had offered to sell him a 20 sack, and of course he thought the guy meant marijuana. When he realized the mistake, the dealer refused to give him his money back and ran off. This guy asked me what I thought he should do, and I told him the only thing he could do was count it as a loss and flush it. He told me he couldn’t stand to waste money and was considering trying some of it just so that he didn’t feel like he’d been totally hosed. He told me he’d tried crack once before and didn’t enjoy it at all, but was still thinking about it.
I can sympathize with this as I feel the same way about money. I’ll stuff myself with a meal that I’m no longer enjoying and I know is not healthy for me, simply because I don’t want to see my money going to waste. It seems like there’s something about our society that ingrains this concept of money and the instinct to hoard, even when you know full well that it’s not in your best interest. I personally believe that this is a learned behavior, and another reason to believe that capitalism is not a long-term healthy solution.
He showed me the crack later, a tiny little rock, that we thought may have actually been chalk. This was only the second time in my life that I’d seen a harder drug (unless you count LSD or ecstasy), despite being a marijuana dealer for nearly ten years. I told him again he should just flush it. I could have bought it off him I suppose and flushed it myself, but I had this fear in the back of my head that I might be tempted by it. It was one of those weird, surreal experiences, even though it shouldn’t have been such a big deal. It was more than just a sign that I’m in the big city now. It was like the crack had some kind of ingrained spirit attached to it that I know has been a result of our general ignorance about it and reliance on government and television to tell us all about it. The problem with crack is that it’s hard to not be ignorant about it and not also seriously risk fucking up your life.
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So on a somewhat related topic, I found this fascinating and surprisingly entertaining presentation about the economics of selling crack, which gives a lovely comparison of crack dealing to the McDonald’s corporation, pointing out some fun parallels with legal capitalism as well as some fascinating facts about the crack trade. My favorite part was his slam against the death penalty, pointing out that people on death row have a longer life expectancy than street crack dealers, making it kind of a joke to think it’s going to be an affective deterrent.