I consider myself a smart person but there are times that I wonder. For instance, I have been on the periphery of some very serious black-market behaviour. I've seen Asian gangsters wield machetes for uses not related to horticulture. I've seen large quantities of illicit substances exchanged for fat stacks of dollar bills. These stacks seemed very attractive to me at the time (and still do!) but fortunately I've always had the good sense to avoid any situation where I'm the one actually handing or receiving that much money in those kinds of bundles.
But I've been there. I've seen it all go down. I've taken mental notes and enjoyed the show, which is how I wound up spending the night in a crack shack.
I was 18 at the time, fresh out of high school, and in the midst of exploring realms of social experience that were not available to me during my incubation period in the Catholic education system. Much of this revolved around a certain green plant and, as any young pothead can attest, I came into contact with all sorts of unsavoury characters.
These seemed to be the only people at that time who had ready access to this certain green plant. Some of them hid baseball bats in the legs of their sweatpants. None of them owned guns as far as I knew but they sure liked to talk about them. Some of them grew up and became tax-fearing citizens with regular jobs. Others might be dead. I have no idea. This was all a long time ago.
But as it happened, I spent the night in a crack shack. My old friend Sanjay*, a chronic deadbeat who was useful for mooching cigarettes and laughing at lowbrow jokes, had informed me that he had found a job and was moving into his own pad in Surrey. Please understand that at 18, everyone I knew still lived with their parents. The prospect of moving out was akin to driving a car to China, so Sanjay's liberation was a big deal indeed.
So I accepted the invitation to spend the night. Our friend Mike and I helped Sanjay ship some of his belongings to the new apartment. On the way over, Mike asked, "Are you seriously going to stay over night?"
"Sure, why not?"
"Because it's a crack shack. Sanjay's selling crack out of that apartment."
"Is that so?"
What wonders. A crack shack! Can you imagine? Of course I'd heard of crack. I'd heard many, many jokes about weird people being crackheads. I had seen real crackheads in their multitudes in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside but I hadn't interacted with any of them. Ever curious by nature, I decided that this was going to be a far more interesting night than I could have hoped for.