Coronavirus Diaries is a series of dispatches exploring how the coronavirus is affecting people’s lives. For the latest public health information, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. For Slate’s coronavirus coverage, click here.
This as-told-to essay from a marijuana dealer in Queens, New York, has been edited and condensed for clarity from a conversation with Heather Schwedel.
I usually deliver to people’s homes. It’s always door-to-door service. I’m going to keep going to people’s houses. The only thing that would probably trip me out would be if I see someone coughing in their hands or things like that, but I’m still not going to let it affect me. I’ll still keep going about my business. Going to people’s houses, I’ll still get a haircut every weekend, things like that. Even if people are sick, they still want to get high, to be honest. I don’t think people will let a virus stop them from indulging.
Usually over text, the interactions are real simple. But face-to-face, I always feel like I’m a counselor. I get bombarded with, “Hey, a lot of stuff is happening. This person passed away. My girlfriend or my boyfriend broke up with me. I’ve been cheated on.” I’ve heard it all and it’s just like, whoa. And now all the conversations are about the coronavirus.
I’ve started rethinking things a little too, like, “Hey, if you want you guys to pay me using like Cash App or Quick Pay or anything like that … ” That way there’s no money exchange, because people can be a bit nasty. I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’ll probably try to just fist bump people.
I don’t know what I would do if I showed up to deliver to a customer and they seemed really sick. I really don’t want to disrespect someone, and then they feel offended, and it’s like, “You know what, let me just stop dealing with this guy.” I’d maybe ask, “Have you checked yourself out?” or “Can I give this to somebody else, so they could give this to you? Or can I leave this in a remote area where you could just pick it up on your own?” That’s where the Quick Pays and the Cash App stuff would come in handy.
I have a few older clients I’m worried about. There’s this one guy who’s about 70 years old. I should check up with him. He works in the Board of Education, so he’s constantly around students and in an area where he could easily be infected by this.
People being stuck at home could be good for business. If you’re cooped up for so long at home, it’s like, “Let me just smoke a joint, this is just getting too much. I want to release some stress.” When we have snowstorms out here, blizzards, and it’s super hard to get around, that’s the kind of thing that happens. “Hey, could you just come by? I’ve been cooped up in here, I just want to smoke.” Or somebody will say, “Hey, let’s just meet up somewhere. I just want to walk and just get out.” I’ll hear from parents of young kids. I think those are the biggest smokers, because those guys are always under stress. But I’m sure a lot of people that usually smoke together will not be smoking together anymore. Because probably they feel some type of way that, “Oh my God, I don’t want your lips on my joint.”
I’m not worried about running out of my supply at all. I don’t think it’s going to affect things like that just yet. People are really cautious when they grow their stuff. They always wear gloves, masks. So I know if anybody’s coughing or anything like that, I know it’s not going to get on that. It’s locally grown. People have means of transportation. So if they had to drive from another state to bring it over or something like that, I don’t think it would be a big difference.
Usually things like that, black markets, underground things never get affected by what’s happening in the real world. Regardless of what’s happening, there’s just some lines of work that never get affected. I remember during Hurricane Sandy, it literally was like nothing ever happened. Business as usual as well. Things were affected, the transportation system, work and things of that nature. But again, underground markets or anything like that, that was still business as usual. I had friends that do the same thing, and I would say, “How are things with you?” I’d hear, “Smooth sailing.”