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Reach your career high in drug trade

| Friday, Dec. 6, 2002

If you've ever considered dumping that boring 9-to-5 for the lucrative world of freelance pharmaceuticals, read on. Not that I'm speaking from experience, of course. I just live in a neighborhood where selling drugs in open daylight is easier than hawking Tupperware to the neighbors.

Most of the salesmen operating along the North Side's Monterey Street have a simple plan. Simple, but brilliantly effective.

First, take a room in one of the local boarding houses or homeless shelters, or you can live in one of the many North Side communities where nobody questions how a guy in his 20s, with no visible employment, can afford a Cadillac Escalade.

Your main business expense after that is maybe a cell phone or a really loud stereo. You can use the latter to defiantly let the neighbors know you've arrived, that you're ready to do business and aren't afraid of being noticed.

Then, stand at busy street corners, muttering your cryptic sales pitch to anyone who walks by. There's plenty of community college students and kids from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh living nearby, so you couldn't hope for a more willing, eager clientele. Lots of these kids are away from home for the first time, and nothing cuts through the loneliness of the holidays like a nice, thick line of coke or a few hits off the old bong.

In time, if your product is good, these kids will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on and so on. If you remember never to get high on your own supply, you'll make good money — far more than those working suckers whose neighborhood you're using for an open-air market. The money will only get better when word of mouth spreads to suburban white kids who'll risk arrest, shaming their middle class families and even fatal overdoses.

How do I know• On Wednesday, I tried to break up a drug deal happening less than 10 feet from the front of my Monterey Street doorstep. It involved one of our community's young entrepreneurs and a white female customer. She was sitting on my porch, nervously fingering a cell phone, while her girlfriend circled the block until "their guy" arrived.

The tinted windows rolled down on his white Pontiac Grand Prix, she slipped him two $20s and off she walked with her one-way ticket to Palookaville. She wasn't in the mood to be chastised about what effect this business has on my neighborhood. "It's none of your damn business," she told me. I can't print what the seller said.

I offered the police detailed descriptions of both cars, license plate numbers and the occupants — when a squad car arrived nearly a half-hour after my call. I live less than a half-mile from a police precinct. The officer took my name and phone number and drove off.

The officer behind the desk at the Zone 1 station sounded bored when I called and said there seems to be little use in recording the license plate numbers of drug dealers and their customers. He suggested I leave them alone, unless I want to get my fool self hurt.

If I was considering entering the drug trade, I'd probably stop by and give that officer a hug. I might even send him an expensive bottle of booze for the holidays. With most of my neighbors too terrified to get involved, police who can't be bothered and an endless customer base, business would boom.

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