Sunday, February 8, 2009

Not On The Forbes List, But...

On of the most successful drug dealers I met was Joe. Joe did not look like anyone that Central Casting would send to a movie audition for the part. He looked like TV's idea of a very successful, well-respected business leader. And he was. His hair was dark brown and well timed as if he frequented and expensive stylist. And he did. His brown eyes were clear, alert and attentive. Despite his current address, he wore well-pressed slacks with a fit that was a tribute to his tailor. There was nothing on the rack that was good enough for this gentleman. If his picture were on the cover of a financial magazine, it would be appropriate. He might look a little younger than the average billionaire but not if he were a venture capitalist or a computer designer. He was not aggressive, he was just clearly in charge. The other residents knew it and so did the officers. The man had presence. He was shorter than average just like many financial tycoons and movie actors. His eyes were calm and all knowing. He spoke in a quiet, soft-spoken tone that one had to listen to very carefully or miss. Everyone listened very carefully because no one wanted to miss a word he said. His shirts were always ironed. Since there is no such service in jail, he must have has a special delivery service to send his laundry in and out.
Joe moved through the dorm as if he were on his own plantation. The residents moved aside in a natural way without seeming to resent or fear him. I thought that Joe probably provoked the same reaction wherever he was, in jail or on the street. Most successful drug dealers are not in jail but he was unlucky for the minute.
He explained that it takes a lot of hard work to run a successful drug business just like any other successful business. He said that that people didn't realize that it takes a lot more than guns to keep a territory and make it profitable. The competition is fierce, loyalty is problematic. Iimporting, manufacturing, and distribution had to be planned carefully. No detail was overlooked. He said that he knew his market and knew that he has to persuade consumers that his product was superior to other similar products. He told me that it took a great deal of research and development to produce a grade of drug that was sufficiently satisfying yet profitable. He was concerned about profit margins. He said that he also like the prestige of being successful because people in the community looked up to him when he walked down the street. People stepped aside and women were thrilled to be seen with him. I kept wondering what made him different from any other successful businessman, except for the product he was selling.
Joe told me that you can tell who is the salesman and who is the salesperson by the car he/she drives. You can also tell what product is being sold by the color of the car.
Joe said that there is a great of prestige is being a successful dealer. All he was doing was selling the wrong product because he could not go public. He may be a venture capitalist. He bailed himself out. As a parting message, he said that never underestimate the skills of a successful drug dealer. If you can sell one product, you can sell another one just as easily.