{October 18, 2012}   Robert

When I finally got to the Mariner, I was bursting to tell the guys about Uncle Jack. I wanted them to know that I could handle a dangerous situation by myself. But I also wanted them to reconsider taking me on their voyage around the world. I knew they worried about me, and if they find out how dangerous it is out there in Panama City, maybe they’d take me with them. When I walked in their room, they were watching TV with a friend I’d never seen. Robert had shoulder-length black hair and a fu manchu. He looked Asian. “You’ll never believe what happened today…” I started, but I  didn’t want to tell my story in front of Robert, so I stopped. “You get a job?” Walt asked. They all looked at each other like they already knew the answer. “Well, no. I got an offer, though” I said. I decided they didn’t need to know the Uncle Jack story, after all. Robert spoke up. “So you’re looking for a job? I know how you could make some easy money” he said. Ugh. Easy money. No thanks, I thought to myself. “You could invest a little money in grass. Buy some and sell it. You could invest your profits in more product and make back your initial investment.” “Nah, I don’t wanna do that” I said. I only had around $230 of my Davidson’s earnings and I needed every penny of that money for expenses. “Besides, I don’t know anybody here but these guys. I don’t know anyone to sell anything to.” I said. “Ah, you can meet new people all the time. There’s always some dude in need of weed…” he said. Walt and Mike acted like they didn’t hear; they stayed glued to whatever was on the TV set. I sat down on the bed and thought about it. I didn’t want to do anything I’d get in trouble for. I was in enough trouble as it was. “It’s up to you…” Robert said. “You could start with a half a pound. I could hook you up.” “How much would that cost?” I asked. “For you, it’d be $140. You could get $25 an ounce for it. That’d be $200. You’d make $60 to reinvest and get all your money back.”  Sixty dollars. It took a month for me to make that working part-time at Davidson’s after school. I could get my initial investment back plus sixty dollars if I sold eight ounces. Eight ounces. That sounded like a lot to me. “I’ll think about it” I told him.

After Robert left, we went to Blimpie’s. I couldn’t stand keeping the story of Uncle Jack to myself anymore, so I blurted it out while we ate our subs. “Didn’t I tell you  not to talk to strangers? Goddamn, Lynn. You got in the car with him. You can’t do stuff like that. You’re gonna get killed” Walt said. “I know, I know…I put myself in a dangerous situation. But I handled it, okay? I’m sitting here now, aren’t I? I can take care of myself” I said. Walt shook his head. He was mad at me. He wanted me to go home so he wouldn’t have to worry about me. But I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to give it more time and see if I could get some money coming in. I didn’t need much. Mike spoke up. “Maybe you should take Robert’s suggestion. Go in the reefer business. You could end up making a lot of money doing that.” “Yeah, but she could also get in a lot of trouble” Walt chimed in. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.” “Please,” I said. “I’ll make up my own mind about what to do. And I think I’ll take a pass on going into that kind of business.”  But the seeds of thought had been planted in my mind.

The next day, Robert came to visit Mike and Walt again at the room. “Did you do some thinking about going into sales?” he asked. “Yeah. I’m still thinking. Doing the math.  Something like that is pretty risky” I said. “Not really,” Robert said. “It’s real easy. You just put out the word to a few people that you can help ‘em out if they’re in need and they come to you with their dough. It’s capitalism, man. You’re just fillin’ a need.”  That would make me an entrepreneur. That’s a word I learned from Daddy. “How little can I buy to start? I don’t want to spend $140,” I said. “I could get you a quarter pound for $75. That’s four ounces. Sell them for $25 a bag and you get your $75 back, plus $25. Four bags are easy to get rid of” he said. “You could do it easy in a day.” “I guess…” I said. But, I didn’t want to part with $75. Plus, I don’t know four people who might “be in need.” I knew he was making this sound easier than it was. I had to do some thinking. My dad was a business man. He started his own business and made a fortune selling pesticides that he applied to people’s houses. He’d already explained to me how business works. You start small, don’t invest more than you’re willing to lose, and you reinvest your profits. It’s that simple. I could be a business woman. Even if what I was going to sell was illegal, at least it doesn’t harm anyone or the planet like pesticides do. It’s actually morally superior to sell weed than to put dangerous pesticides into the soil. Pesticides run into the water and poison fish and animals. At least I’m not putting anyone at risk except myself. That’s how I justified it.

I gave Robert $75 and he brought the package to my room in a brown paper bag a few hours later. “Let me know if you need more” he said. I had his phone number written on the inside of a matchbook. “Okay” I said. I put the brown paper package in my flowered suitcase and slid it under my bed. I had no idea what I was doing. I sat on my bed and pulled out my book to re-read Thoreau’s Essay on Civil Disobedience. At least Thoreau would restore my faith in the integrity of being an outlaw.


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