In 1999, when I was living in Las Vegas, I got a temp job at a wire and cable company. I’d been on Social Security Disability since 1996, and that summer was the first time I’d worked since 1995. I needed to work in order to help support my crack habit.
The guy I lived with, Joe, also had a job, for about a week. He called people for the LV newspaper to try and get subscriptions.
It was weird to use my brain at work. I had a pretty sweet setup where I sat in my own area with a computer, and I kept a web browser up all day while I made templates in Word. I did other things, but mainly I made template after template. All of their massive binders of standard operating procedures had to be remade into templates.
I worked between the shop where they sold the wire and cable stuff and the factory/warehouse. It was weird. I felt like an alien. I was so removed from the real world I hardly knew what to do with myself. I sat at my computer and just kept to myself. It was a relief to get away from Joe for 8 hours, but it was hard to work.
I stuck out among the workers. The dress was business casual, which I was completely unprepared for. In my day to day crack life, I wore t-shirts, shorts, boots, and a hat. Plus, I had 4 eyebrow piercings. If my mom hadn’t let me wash my clothes at their house they never would’ve been cleaned. I didn’t have money for the laundromat. Regardless, my clothes always had the smell of sweat and the smoke of crack, weed, and cigarettes. Nice.
I’ve always sucked at dressing for work. That’s something I could write another whole post about.
What everyone noticed was that I never ate. Sometimes I was lucky enough to have change for the vending machine to get a soda, but that was it. At first, I tried to be social and sit with everyone at lunch. But I had no food. Crack heads don’t spend money on food. I had nothing to bring to eat. Plus, I was purposely starving myself at that point, so I wouldn’t have eaten anyway.
After being asked several times why I never ate and only drank water, I stopped sitting with my coworkers. I’d sit outside (summer in Las Vegas) and smoke cigarettes. I had to have cigarettes.
There was a man who shared an office with my boss who was really nice. One day I was looking for something in their office and my boss wasn’t around. Bill asked if I was okay. I looked at him and felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. He invited me to come over and sit down. He was a really religious guy, and I’m an atheist, which always made me uncomfortable.
Next thing I knew I was telling him that no, I wasn’t okay. That I lived with an older man who treated me like shit. I started to cry but pulled myself together. I told him everything would be fine. It was nice of him to ask.
Then he asked if I needed anything. And the only thing that went through my mind was yes, I needed money. I nearly laughed. I wanted to ask him for money for crack. I smiled and said no, I didn’t need anything.
It was a weird day. He was a really nice man, and I was clearly not doing well, but there wasn’t anything anyone could do.
The job didn’t last very long. Why should I bust my ass at a job all day for crack money? Joe had quit his job. It was better to starve in our apartment and hustle to get crack rather than work.