I’m fortunate enough to have a strong support system in the world to hold me down, and I’ve an even wider circle sending me books, so I dont need to hustle to live comfortably.
Not that I couldn’t, but hustling in prison requires you to open lines of credit to accomodate the biweekly store schedule. As you can imagine, giving credit to a bunch of criminals is a risky enterprise.
In the world, unpaid debts are simply reported to credit agencies, and in egregious cases, they’re adjudicated in court. The very worst you risk by being a debtor is a little jail time, if you owe the government. Plus, there’s many intermediary steps until that extreme course is taken.
In prison, we don’t have a recourse to any third-parties to settle disputes. As a result, violence is the unspoken current beneath every exchange. So if youre going to collect on your loans, they have to be afraid there will be repercussions. If you’re a single, unaffiliated dude, you’ll probably have to make an example of a few guys before you earn the respect of the yard at large. The equivalent of being “FDIC insured” is belonging to an organization or otherwise have one willing to intervene on your behalf. So I’m spared the massive headache of having to hustle to survive.
If I do any kind of “hustling”, it’ll be to fill up my time. Before the semester was cancelled because of covid, I used to wrote papers for guys in the Jackson college program. I charged $1 per page or $20-30 for the whole semesters work. Like I said, I did it to fill my time because the money obviously wasn’t worth it.
In the meantime, Ive started to offer another service: in-house library. I’ve accumulated a large collection of books over the years, so much so my locker can’t hold anymore. I sometimes sell books for $1 each or more as a collection.
When someone asks what I have, I’ll joke, “I’ve got some philosophy, knowledge thats straight drop..I got dem page-turners, keep you up all night, know what I’m sayin?!” like I’m a city corner crack dealer.
There ain’t much money in it, but I’ve noticed that if you’re considered useful by a wide swathe of people, like the barber or candy guy, you’re less likely to get dragged into bullshit, so I’m hoping this service qualifies as essential enough.
There’s also been some very weird moments…about 2 months ago, I lent “Paris Trout”, a novel, to a homeboy who I’d often worked out with and had actual interesting coversations with, about something other than drugs, crime, or prison.
Anyways, he returned it to me the day before he went home, unread. I didn’t think much of it and put it away. Then, as I finished reading a few books, “Paris Trout” was the only book that I hadn’t read yet, so I pulled it out and, tucked among its pages, found the most awkward, personal letter I’d ever read. Technically, itd be more accurate to say it was a diary. I remember him saying he liked to get high and write all night, so I imagine this belonged to that genre…
Basically, homeboy wrote how he needed to find someone to love, that’d treat him right, but took a very disturbing, homosexual turn.. Apparently, his “best friend” from another joint, who had always talked about, was much more than a friend…this letter made it seem like they had some forbidden love that the world would never understand, which was new to both of them.
His beloved was already out in the world, and had od’ed numerous times, which he interpreted as not knowing how to grapple with this new kind of love. Even more embarrassing, he wrote out his lover’s full name at the page like teenage girls will write “Mrs. Edward Cullen” etc. lmao. I was almost ashamed to read it, and it came as such a surprise. Dude had zero feminine qualities and was known to fly off the handle and threaten to whoop someone’s ass at the smallest understanding.
I’m still getting used to how there will be no sign or hint that a dude’s gay, he’ll even have a few kids and a family in the streets, but in prison, he secretly likes to have sex with men. It’s pretty disconcerting to say the least.