Miss! Excuse me, Miss! Remove the headphones, now!” A white guy with short brown hair, a mustache and jeans held a gold badge at the end of a chain as he barked at me.
My first thought was, Fuck! The cops followed me down here and I’m fucking busted! My shift had just started; I’d done my pick-up at the office and was off to my first delivery. I was a professional, roller-skating, pot delivery chick whose yellow and orange backpack carried in it a few ounces of kind bud, schwag and everything in between all bagged up and ready to sell—and here was this pig blowing my whole scene.
I knew how to play it cool though. I pulled my headphones off, widened my eyes and with a dimpled smile gave my best damsel in distress. “What’s going on, officer?” I prayed silently the Blue Nile African essential oil I’d smeared on myself earlier was overpowering the reek of weed floating out of my backpack.
Delivering pot on roller-skates was a dream job for me. Not only did I grow up smoking pot, but I had real-work business experience thanks to time spent making cash by going into the Lower East Side and scoring heroin for people who were too scared. So when a guy I knew who was friends with another dude who knew a guy and they thought I was cool and not a narc, they hired me. It was 1994 and a bunch of white dudes with dreadlocks were now my bosses; I was psyched.
The job paid $150 cash a day with bonus incentives. I thought I was making a killing until I remembered that if I was to get arrested, none of that money would be mine anymore, plus I’d be in jail. I took a few extra bong hits every day before going to my run just to make sure my mind didn’t ever get too clear.
We were a mobile team, but there was an apartment that acted as home base: the customers calls came through and the delivery people would get a destination, a pager and a few ounces of New York’s finest weed to deliver.
I saw some beautiful apartments and had a blast at the job, but when Mayor Rudy Giuliani came to town and was throwing folks into The Tombs for puffing a jay on the street, that was my cue to exit.
I hated to think of not having this job anymore. The pay was good and the perks were great: everyone was thrilled when you showed up, I was invited to every party in town and I was always treated like a queen wherever I went. “You want something to eat or drink? You wanna watch a movie? You wanna hear my deepest darkest secrets?” Sometimes it was weird, but for the most part my life consisted of all-day apartment parties with strangers. However, this stranger in front of me on the subway platform was scary.
“Sit down!” He meant business and I was close to shitting myself. I sat down and waited with my pack on my back, a forced smile plastered to my face.
“Did you know it was illegal to rollerskate down here? You could roll off the platform and on to the tracks and boom! That’s all it takes, hon, and who’s gonna pay for all that carnage? Not the city of New York. I gotta stay and watch you put your shoes on and take off those death machines you call skates.”
My forced smile turned real and got wider.
“Oh my gosh, officer, I had no idea I couldn’t wear my skates down here. Thank you so much for the warning and concern.” I was kissing more ass than necessary, but this was a close fucking call.
By this time, a few trains had sped by and I was running late, but I wasn’t rushing. I couldn’t. My flip-flops were buried underneath my bagged-up weed and the cop was standing over me, so I had to be slick. I slid my hand in my bag and found my flops between a skunk bud and a mid-range. My skates came off real quick—they were brown Rydels that a boyfriend had stolen from the skate rental shop where he had worked 15 years earlier. My shoe size was etched on the back of each skate. I tied my skate laces together, swung them over my shoulder and slipped my toes into my flops.
“I guess that’s it then, huh?” I say to the undercover as I walked further down the platform to distance myself from him.
“Hey, it’s for your own good! Trying to keep you safe, you know? You take care of yourself now. A girl like you could get eaten alive in this city.”