"Its a great job, but an awful profession."
Let's preface this: Teenagers are idiots. They could be bright and amazing and insightful to a degree an adult will never be again, but at bottom they are idiots. There are parts of their brain that are still in the prototype-stage and not even close to ready for use. At least according to science.
So. When it comes to life decisions, teenagers might not be the leading authority on the subject.
Tonight I had the pleasure of driving a customer I drove the night before. Thursday night, I received a fare from Maytown to Buena Vista, with a stop at Kingsgate Avenue. In jumped this young fellow, and told me that we were picking up a lady at the Avenue. He was bristling with excitement, and bragged about he had never met her before, but got connected to her randomly through twitter just this night. He was a cocky little bastard in his early twenties, I reckoned. We chatted, things seemed good. He had a need to brag about all the rappers he had hung out with (UK rappers, that is. The Swedish hip hop scene is a little less impressive).
Once we reach the Avenue, his lady love enters the cab and he proceeds to seduce her. I don't know much about pickup artists, but I think this guy did. He asked her lots of questions, paid her a lot of attention, while all the while being slightly condescending. She seemed charmed by it though; she took him home. He had asked me not to run the meter higher than 300 hundred since that was all he had. As luck would have it, the meter stopped at 290.
So I saw off the lovely couple and forgot all about them. Until 24 hours later, when I got a fare from Victoria Street to the same address in Buena Vista. And lo and behold; it was the same guy.
"All right man, you know the drill. Gonna go back there. Man she was hot!"
He then proceeded to tell me in great detail of all the nasty stuff she had done to him the night before. I'm no prude by any means, but even I started to feel the urge to beat him over the head with a Bible and then smack him with a Koran. Then during the trip he said: "All I got with me is 200. My backup plan in case plan A, B and C didn't work out."
"A, B and C?"
"Yeah, I was out with some hot chicks. And if I could get them home with me, I'd call a cab and spend 200 to get back to Buena Vista for plan D."
"Running on the meter."
"Shit, just turn it off and pocket it."
"Not gonna do that."
"Fuck that, man. You think I'd make 100k a month if I paid taxes?"
"Depends on your line of work."
"Hah! You know how old I am?"
"You told that woman you were 19."
"Nah, man," he grinned. "I'm seventeen. And she's 21."
"Well check out the pimping skills on you, young man."
"Yeah, seventeen. And I make 100k a year."
"For a guy who's rolling in dough, you sure are stingy when it comes to paying your fare."
"I brought 5000 with me tonight, and spent it all. Making connections, buying drinks. All part of the business, man."
"Your 100k business."
"I'm guessing you're a dealer?"
"Damn straight. Cocaine. Don't use it myself."
According to Scarface Jr. here, working honestly and paying your taxes was a fool's game. He had a plan, a solid ambition. He'd sling coke, fly under the radar, and once he had made that cool million sek, he'd get into the shipping business (it was unclear if he wanted to get into shipping, or actually become a sea-captain) and smuggle his literal boatload of cash to South America, to Chile, where the corruption is so high that money don't ever smell. Once there, he was going to open a hotel and live the good life. He figured it would take about ten years to execute the plan and enjoy the fruits of his labours.
Pictured: the good life.
"They take it all, and they don't give you shit."
Very true, aside from... you know... roads and hospitals and streetlights.
"Its a hard life, though. Its already gotten three of my friends killed."
"Is it worth it?" I asked.
"Not for me, no..." he said gravelly. "Its for my family. I support them. I pay their rent, their food. My parents live on a measly 18k on welfare [paid for by my tax money, incidentally]. My mom can't work since she got cancer."
The night before, he had talked about his parents rent (10 000 sek) as if it were small potatoes.
Here was this fucking teenager, who had a plan and an ambition. Imagine that kind of thinking in a legitimate field. And he wasted it away for what seemed like easy money. He talked a big game, but he is seventeen. he's small fucking fry. Whoever he reports to is a shark. He was hoping to retire at 27- frankly, I think he should've been hoping that he'd live until then.
Jesus Christ, this poor kid... Seventeen years old, he doesn't know shit about the world. Not, mind you, the world he's moving through. I'm sure he's quite adept at navigating the nasty underbelly of society. But rather, he doesn't know shit about what's in store for him, what he could have been. A part of me wants to dismiss him as a scumbag coke-dealer whose business will harm and potentially kill many many people. But at the same time, even though I want to, I can't condemn him. Maybe I'm too soft-hearted, but for whatever reason (legitimate or no), this kid, this child felt that civilized society had nothing to offer him but thankless labour.
It took me a long while to figure out how I was supposed to write this. This guy didn't fit easily in my morality; on the one hand, he was driven by noble motivations. On the other hand, his methods are fucking abhorrent. Somewhere down the line, the adult world, the responsible world failed him. Oh sure, we could argue that every individual is completely and solely responsible for their own actions, but legally and (as seen in the preface) scientifically, that's not entirely true.
So in summary: In some sick way, I understand his choices, and they're fucking regrettable. He's at an age where he doesn't understand the consequences of his choices. Like all teenagers, he will be in for a reality check. But while most get shocked out of their immaturity, to him this reality check might come in the form of a bullet to the brain.
Meeting him, hearing him brag about how actively he was fucking up his life broke my heart. I hope to God he receives a wakeup call, and I hope to God that wakeup call doesn't come in the form of that shark that he's swimming with opening its may to chow down on him.