Monday, October 31, 2016


Nothing creates real entrepreneurs like poverty.

My last two years in high school I got into playing hooky, cutting school all day and hanging out with my friends. Even today, I look back on those days as some of the happiest of my life. We would leave our homes at 6:15 am, hop on the T and travel around the city on the subway all day. We'd do things like visit to the zoo or go downtown and wander around the forest of tall buildings. We discovered the different landmarks and neighborhoods of the city, and sometimes we'd even sneak on the ferry to explore the Harbor islands. Everyday was like a school field trip but without chaperones and we turned .

The challenge that we had when we played hooky was always money. We could sneak into most of the subway stations around our way, but we usually didn't even have enough money to buy lunch during the day so unless you brought something from home you went hungry. Since my Mom usually packed a brown bag lunch for me in the morning (most of my friends just ate the free school lunch that was provided to the "poor" kids in class), I'd usually whack up my sandwich with my buddies, if there were two of us we each got half, if there was a trio we split it up three ways. All for one and one for All.

Even so, by mid morning we were usually starving because we would have eaten my lunch for breakfast. Gradually we started developing little schemes to get enough money to buy lunch, and if we had anything extra we'd score a little weed and get high. Shoplifting was an early "go to" scam, but the local convenience store shopkeepers would catch on quick and the supermarkets had professional security so that was always a bit dicey. Inspired by the tired and true concept of the paper route, we modified the approach a bit a began stealing the bundle of newspapers left outside a mall pharmacy every morning. We'd grab the stack and stand in traffic at the busy intersection near the Prison Point bridge and sell the papers to the stuck in traffic morning motorists. It was convenient to the subway station so when someone handed us a bill that we couldn't make change for one of us would run into the station and make change form the fare taker in the booth. After a while the guy would tell us to get lost but once we sold a few papers we could make the change ourselves anyway so we were good to go.

We'd usually end up making between $8 - $10 bucks doing this, and with those proceeds we'd buy a dozen donuts at Dunkin and still have $5 left over to invest in a nickel bag of weed. Back then a joint cost a dollar so if you bought a nickel bag and rolled eight joints out of it you could earnt a $3 profit. Repeat this process a few times a day and we'd each end up returning home "from school" that day with a few more dollars that we had when Mom gave us bus fare in the morning. Gradually we re-invested our money time and again and by the time I was a senior in high school I was making more money on the corner hanging out than I was at my part time job.