The other day, while I was unlocking my bike from outside a restaurant downtown, a scraggly-looking man with bloodshot eyes zigzagged over to me and asked me if I knew what time it was. I did, and provided it, even though the fellow didn’t look like the type who had a schedule to keep.
He thanked me, and then squinted at me. “C’Iaskyouaquesshun?” he slurred.
“Sure,” I replied. Why not.
He contorted his face and fixed his red eyes on me. There was a long pause before he took a deep breath, summonning the power to let his frantic query tumble out: “D’yousmokeweedPLEASESAYYES.” This last part was barked with an urgent clarity that almost made me feel like picking up the habit.
But, “Sorry,” I said, and I was.
His face fell. “Y’don’smokeweed?” he asked, surprised.
“No,” I repeated.
“You? Don’smoke weed?”
“Nope,” I confirmed, flattered that someone found it implausible that a square like me could possibly not smoke weed.
He shook his head, and then tilted it up at me. “No shit?”
He thought for a minute. “Aw, fuck,” he said, and withdrew a crinkled baggie from his pocket. “Thisstuff’ere,” he explained, shoving it an inch from my face, “Triple A, twennybucks. Bespricentown.”
“That is a good price,” I said, because I had no reason to think otherwise.
He nodded. “AnnIdunnowhyIcange’ridovit.” He looked up, despondant.
Since I do not, as established earlier, smoke weed, I had the advantage of not being high on weed at that moment, and consequently I possessed a mental clarity that was conspicuously absent in my interlocutor and probably had been for some time. “Well,” I offered, “We’re in Chinatown. Chinatown isn’t known for its weed market. A lot of people here don’t speak English. And it’s a tightly-knit community, so people who do smoke weed probably buy it from people they already know.”
He paused. “Fuck,” he mumbled.
“But,” I said, “The Marijuana Party office is six blocks away from here, and there’s a shop nearby that sells…related merchandise.” I know this because I read the news.
He looked up. “Theresamarijuanaparty?”
“Based six blocks away.”
He thought about that. “They probably smoke weed there.”
“That’s my guess,” I replied. “Here’s what you should do. Stand about a block away from the Marijuana Party office, and offer your stuff to people who walk by. Someone in that area is going to want to pay twenty dollars for that triple-A stuff you’ve got there.”
“Yeah,” he said, his voice brightening. “Where’sissplace?”
I pulled out my map and showed him, and then I pointed him in the general direction.
“They’ll buy my weed,” he said optimistically, reenergized by this new strategy.
I hope they did.