Before I dive in here, I want to explain a little for the uninitiated (those of you, for whatever reason, haven’t had any experience with crystal meth or meth users). Crystal Meth is kind of like an amphetamine on amphetamines.
When I still had health insurance, I was taking adderall (an amphetamine) for Attention Deficit Disorder. I started taking it shortly after I moved to New York and it was like someone finally switched on a light for me. After years of just thinking I didn't listen because I was lazy or bored, all of a sudden I could stay in a conversation for its duration. I could remember what I was doing when I walked out of one room and into another. I could sit still long enough to actually finish my work. For me, it was nothing short of miraculous.
Then when my partner and I split and I no longer had health insurance through his plan, I could no longer afford to pay for the prescription or the visits to the psychiatrist to even get the prescription. Since I had used crystal meth occasionally at this point, I immediately came to the logical conclusion that I could medicate myself using that and it would be just like taking adderall -- only I'd have to snort it rather than take it in pill form (I'm pretty sure I came to this conclusion on one of those "occasions" I was high). I can't think of a time when I've been as proud of my ingenuity as I was when I had that brainstorm.
But as I said in the first paragraph, crystal isn't just an amphetamine. It's a methamphetamine. I don't know exactly what that means chemically, but I know what it means practically. Speed on steroids.
Aside from the potency issue, there was another flaw I hadn't accounted for in my brilliant plan. While you know exactly how much adderall you need to take (it's right there on the bottle), "dosing" crystal is a less exact science. And while I'll usually adhere to instructions on a prescription (for whatever reason some rules seem unbreakable to me), when it comes to self-prescribing I subscribe to the "more is better" school of thought.
So that's how it started. Now we're going to fast forward a bit. By now, I've figured out that the biggest cost of doing crystal is the soul-crushing, body-pulverizing, mind-numbing crash that occurs when you are coming down. So, I reasoned, if I just kept doing it -- 24/7 -- I would not have to endure the crash (another stroke of genius I thought).
Because by this point, I'm not self-medicating. I'm no longer snorting it. I've graduated to smoking it. If you are thinking to yourself now, "He was smoking crack?" you're not too far off. The main differences between crack and crystal are price and duration of high. On crystal you stay high for hours, whereas on crack (I'm told -- it's one of the few things I never had the occasion to try) you are only high for about 20-30 minutes. I'm not sure that gram for gram crack is more expensive (in fact, I'd guess it's not) but since you have to use much more to stay high, crystal is much more economical. But still not cheap.
So, now it's the end of 2005 and the cush job I had working at home for a company in Philadelphia had finally come to an end. Here's where you might see a pattern developing. My crystal-fueled brainstorms are getting more and more brilliant. This latest one is that I should start "distributing" product to support myself and my habit.
Keep in mind that all of this is happening during what I classify "the good times". People often describe the progression of drug use as, "fun, then fun with problems, then just problems." The insanity of all of it becomes more apparent when you realize that this was all taking place during the "fun" part.
So, now I'm an entrepreneur. A businessman. I do some of the things any businessman would do. I find a wholesaler. I do a little networking. I figure out other necessary details. I'm ready to go.
Now, I know what many of you might think the big problem with this plan was, but really there was a much more basic problem that I hadn't considered until I had already dived in headfirst. On my best sober day, people irritate me. Given the choice of being around 10 people or being alone in a room, I will almost always choose the latter. So add a substance that takes my type A personality and makes it A² and well, I'm pretty much a misanthrope.
Plus, and this may shock you to learn, the clientèle isn't always that you might find at Tiffany. In fact, it was way more often like Toys R Us on a Saturday afternoon. I lasted about a month before I'd had enough. Something had to be done. Voila! Another brainstorm. I'll create some policies to restore order. Nothing elaborate. Just a few friendly reminders that will keep things running smoothly.
Here I have to say, this is your lucky day. Obviously, when I got sober I got rid of all paraphernalia and accessories pertaining to old habits. But somehow, a couple copies of my policy sheet managed to get tucked between other important papers. I'm not going to print them all (for what should be obvious reasons), but I have to share some of them. When I found this piece of paper about a year ago, it made me laugh so genuinely that it almost made those years completely worthwhile.
I think we will just end today's entry with a sampling (actually only one-third of the entire document) of what people were treated to when they showed up at my apartment, mostly because I love how I ended this document. (The formatting and font colors are from the original doc.)
Policy Number One. I'm sorry. I can't ever, ever, ever extend credit to you, your brother, my brother, or anyone else on the planet. For any time period. Go to the bank, go to your brother, go to my brother. But if you don't have the money today, then you will go home empty-handed today.
Policy Number One A. If you argue, whine, complain, beg or play really stupid about Policy Number One, you will go home empty-handed with instructions to never return.
Risk of Referral Policy. If you refer someone that becomes so much trouble that they must be banned from ordering, you will be banned as well. As will the person who referred you (unless that was me). This rule is borrowed from a cooperative I dealt with in Manhattan. They seemed to run a pretty tight ship, so I'm using it. If you bring me a problem, you are a problem. It's that simple.
Risk of Exposure (and frostbite) Policy. I don't have a car. Even if I did have a car, I wouldn't be using it as an office. Other non-places of business include (but are not limited to): Street corners, subways, parks, hallways, alleyways, buses, ferries, drugstores and pizza parlors. You get the idea I hope. Just in case, let me be clear. If you can't let me into your apt., or your office, or your friend's apt, then you need to come to me. If I arrive somewhere to find that I am exposed to the elements or the public, I will leave and never answer your call again.
Pick up / Delivery Policy. There has been a severe lapse in the enforcement of this policy, but it must now be announced and enforced strictly. Unless I offer because I will be in the area for an unrelated reason, there is a delivery charge of xx. Don't ask if I'm going to be in the area. If I don't offer the information, it means I'm not. Being in the area to deliver to someone else does not entitle anyone to a waived delivery charge. If you don't want to pay the delivery charge, pick it up. I am easily accessible by subway or cab. I'll give you directions if you need them.
Surprise Party Policy. I don't like surprises. Telling me when you are at my front door that you brought a friend with you is totally unacceptable. Not telling me about people that will be there when I show up at your apt. is equally unacceptable. In the former situation, 90% of the time your friend will have to wait outside (and down the street and around the corner). In the latter, there is a great likelihood that I will leave things unfinished and just walk right back out the door. However, if I know in advance that someone is coming with you, or that someone will be there with you, arrangements can usually be made. I'm always happy to meet new people.