There was once a time when I stumbled my way through social situations.
Being an American living in the UK, people just assume I'm this confident girl; when in reality every new social situation is as awkward as the next.
From the age of 13, I have always had a job.
Whether it was in a Deli, a chocolate shop or being a waitress.
I was always raised to have a good work ethic.
To never depend on anyone else and to always take my job seriously.
However, after traveling from 18-20, my resume now had this gap of time on it.
I was 20 years old, living back home with my parents outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
My life had returned to being this mundane repetition of sleep, numb myself somehow, eat, sleep and repeat.
I filled my days with my lover at the time, Mac.
Mac was this bad boy I had met 2 years before at 18 years old.
We met in an institution, so we had that going for us, among other things, haha.
But, on a serious note-
we were very attracted to each other.
And although we were warned to stay as far away as possible from each-other... we couldn't help it.
Our romance had a quick life, for I decided to move to England at 18 years old.
He took me to the airport and begged me to stay.
A part of me seriously considered it.
But, I never wanted to be a girl who stayed behind, or did anything based on a guy...
So... I boarded the plane.
Even with the time passing by, when I returned it was like no time had gone by.
Which was a little frustrating.
I mean, time had gone by. Things had changed. I changed... right?
But there I was,
doing the same thing I was doing 2 years before.
With the same people doing the same things, living their same lives.
Traveling became this other life that was foreign to me.
Yet, Mac and I were this unstoppable duo.
We spent our days making money at gas stations, pretending to be out of gas, or finding some quick money scheme.
We were hoodlums, but we liked that.
He paced the outer-edges of the station while I sat in my SUV at the pump, acting like the damsel in distress.
We averaged about 80 US dollars an hour doing this, which was pretty good.
We always got a quick few bucks, would go buy some pills and booze and waste the rest of the day in my car listening to 'Brand New' and talking about the 'potential' we had.
One day, we stationed ourselves at the 'Wawa' gas station, near Woodhaven Rd and the Roosevelt Boulevard.
This particular day was so hot and humid. I can remember being in my denim cut off shorts and a tank-top and still sweating.
My thighs burned whenever they touched my beige tan leather seats in my car.
The longer I sat in the car, a sweat puddle would begin to form,
until I would eventually be sitting in so much sweat it felt like I had pissed myself.
I would wait for all the pumps to be filled with customers,
then make my way across them all.
"Excuse me" I would begin. Sounding as timid and pathetic as possible.
"I'm so sorry to bother you. That's my car over there..." I'd point to my black SUV a few pumps over.
"It's my Mothers car and I didn't realize the gas gauge was broken."
I'd start to look down at the ground in embarrassment.
"I should have realized when the line didn't seem to move, but I thought it was my lucky day. And now I'm 2 hours from home, I don't even own a credit card and have no cash on me. Is there any way you would be able to help me with some gas? I don't think I need tbat much."
I usually got anywhere from a couple dollars to 20 dollars per person in cash.
Although, some people felt more comfortable actually purchasing the gas and watching me pump it in.... which was annoying, and impossible when my car was actually filled to the brim with gas.
After every round, I would return to my car, putting the cash in the middle console and wait for the pumps to fill up again.
I preferred Mac out of sight for this.
It looked better just me, alone.
It made me look helpless and more sympathetic.
So, when Mac all of a sudden jumped into the passenger seat when I had just returned from the pumps,
I freaked out.
"What the fuck dude?!? Get out!! Someone is going to see you who just gave me money!" I exclaimed.
He grabbed my face and pulled it towards him, before giving me a big kiss on the lips.
"Babe, I just got us a job together!" He announced, proud.
He irritated me.
"A JOB?!" I yelled in anger. "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK I'M DOING NOW?!"
The heat, and lack of pills was making me irritable.
"Chill out babe, just come meet them! I just met them now. Look- there in that van over there selling steak and chicken and shit."
He pointed to the side of building, where the dreaded gas station bathroom was located.
there was this van that had flames graphically printed all over it. Along the side was written "Corporate Meats" and this tan skinned, brown haired girl and tall, beak-nosed boy stood by the van making-out.
"Who the fuck are they?" I demanded.
Soon after meeting Hannah, this feisty ghetto chick from Oakland, Califonia and Ryan, this white thug from Virginia-
we were all inseparable.
They got Mac and I a job riding in a van going door-to-door selling wholesale meats, and in exchange they came and stayed at my parents house.
They soon became family.
My first day on the job, was like getting put into a fraternity i didn't want any part of.
Every morning I had to be there at 9AM with a smile on my face for group meeting.
Group meeting was basically the boss trying to get us 'hyped up' for the day by having us yell and dance, which really pissed me off.
But, after 15 minutes of group time, we each got separated into groups and given a van with a massive built in freezer filled with a variety of Steak, Chicken, Pork and Seafood.
The rest of the day you were your own boss.
You could slack off or try hard.
So, the 15 minute group meeting wasn't all that bad really,
Because Hannah and Ryan had brought Mac and I in, we got to ride with them.
I had always considered myself shy and awkward.
Mac was this confident and charming man.
He was always very suave and good with his words.
His hilarious sense of humor mixed with his charm made him the best salesman.
So Mac and I did a few lines of coke to get myself into the 'sales' mode.
*PLEASE NOTE* This was a very different time of my life. I'm not making excuses for anything I have done, nor do I regret it. I just know that some people might read this and think of me differently, which is a shame. But, in all honesty if you are one of those people... you really shouldn't be reading this blog anyway. All I'm trying to say is; I've decided to open up more on here about my vices and past experiences.
The first house Hannah and I knocked on, ended up being home to an older Southern couple.
As soon as Hannah took note of the Southern accent, she began
talking with a Southern accent.
This totally caught me off guard.
I didn't understand why she was doing this?
Not only was this Oakland chick talking like she was from Tennessee, she was winking at me and slapping her knee to her own jokes.
I was floored by her performance.
She sold them 250 US dollars worth of Meat, but the free freezer is what got them in the end.
When her and I returned to the van, she kissed Ryan and threw him their cut of 150 US dollars.
Their adrenaline pumping from the smell and touch of money- they began to make out.
Hannah pulled away from Ryan's lips, turned to me and said,
"This world is all about the social game. It's not just about working hard. It's about adapting to a person to get what you want. That woman wanted me to be this young, charming Southern Belle and so that's what I was. I knew she would trust me more."
For some reason I felt privileged to see Hannah in that mode, and even more privileged to be getting that information.
Mac and I assumed we would be working together all the time, but in the beginning I only worked with Hannah and him with Ryan.
So we would go out separately during the day, meeting up at the end of the night with our socially manipulated earned money.
That job taught me so much about how to interact with people and get them to do what you want.
Each salesman I met had a different tactic or technique.
Some were aggressive and some more calm.
While many used math and numbers to show you what you were saving, others would cook you a T-bone steak there and then and promise you that you would LOVE it.
All their methods worked, but it was about learning from them and finding your own routine.
Hannah focused more on being your friend and gaining your trust.
Anyone who has worked in sales knows how many times you are going to get people yelling at you for disrupting them, which is fair enough.
Being a door-to-door salesman, however, is one of the hardest things I ever did.
You are constantly being rejected.
Whether someone is slamming a door in your face, or threatening to call the cops; it takes its toll.
I actually got arrested in New Jersey for soliciting door-to-door,
which is ironic looking back on.
So, when someone finally did invite you in or was interested in hearing what you had to say, it was show-time.
Hannah taught me the most.
Once inside, she became that persons best friend.
If the person was a stay at home mother, Hannah decided to make up that she had a child of her own.
She would then proceed to use this as a tool, and give examples of what food she would cook for her kids- using the products we sold.
The bonding that would happen between them, would be beautiful, even if it was based all on lies.
Or- lets say the potential customer inviting us into their home is the husband, and the wife isn't home.
Hannah would become a Tom boy, talking about sports and asking to see the garage or basement and then slipping into the conversation how good the free freezer would look there.
The husband would usually say that he would have to speak to his wife about it.
Hannah would always reply something witty and emasculating.
"OH!- I'm sorry! I thought I was speaking with the man of the house."
"I apologize! I did not realize your wife makes all the financial decisions."
This would usually work.
Hannah would also phrase things a certain way as well as use her body language.
She would ask questions that only had a 'Yes' answer to them.
This way, you begin to say 'Yes' more and more, so that when the main question comes into play; you are more likely to say 'Yes'!
The same goes for nodding your head up and down in a 'Yes' motion while someone is speaking.
By the time Mac and I were paired to go out in our own van, together and alone; we had acquired all the tricks of the trade.
I think our first day we made something like 500 US dollars and sold our entire freezer out.
When money and pills were easy to come by- Mac and I were in love and on top of the world.
But, when money was no where to be found and pills non-existent; we could barely make eye contact with one another.
Not long after our first day working together,
we started doing coke and pills while working.
Sometimes, pulling over and falling asleep in the van all day not selling anything from the freezer.
Hannah became more and more frustrated with me.
She constantly praised me as a human being and saw so much for me in my future, when all I saw was more suffering.
Eventually, I couldn't even knock on someones door and attempt to sell them anything unless I had done a line.
So, I would take the van into the ghetto of North Philly and trade seafood or steak or whatever any dealer wanted for coke.
My plan was to do the coke and go make all the money back that I didn't even have and had already spent.
As you might think... It didn't happen that way.
The company we worked for became more and more suspicious as both Mac and my own debt to them began to grow.
Saying I gave Steak to my friends and family was no longer a believable excuse.
The inevitable happened.
Mac and I were both fired.
Hannah and Ryan continued working there and living with us, but still frowned upon our lifestyle.
Mac and I went back to our gas station hustle, but this time around I made him get involved using his salesman tactics.
Hannah and Ryan moved into their own place eventually, and we drifted apart.
I hadn't thought of this part of my life for a while.
It was as if, it had laid dormant in the back of my mind until now.
When truthfully, the way I carry myself today has a lot to do with her.
There's so many people in my life that passed through and made a significant impact.
I'm so grateful for this.