What I Learned Living Next to Crack Dealers

For those of you who don’t recognize him, that photo is me and Richard Donnell Ross a.k.a. “Freeway Rick” Ross. Not that fat ass rapper who stole his name. The original “Johnny Appleseed of Crack”. The most successful crack dealer in history. I figured that photo was appropriate.

For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in the ghetto. In the ghetto, there are crackheads. In case you don’t know, crackheads are people addicted to crack-cocaine. Crackheads and the ghetto go together like Kool-Aid and fried chicken.

These crackheads get their crack from somewhere. That’s where crack dealers come in.  A natural consequence of growing up in the projects is that I spent a lot of time with dealers and addicts. However, my experience had a unique feature.

I spent about 5 years living next to a certified crackhead. When I moved from one housing project to another, I spent another 4 years living next to an actual crack dealer. While the hood is a terrible place to begin with, I can assure you that living next to hard drug users and dealers is a unique level of hell.

This following is a list of my observations, the lessons learned and general experiences from living next to crack dealers and crackheads.

Crackheads are surprisingly functional. While there are a lot of crackheads that rob and steal to get drug money, there are also quite a bit who have jobs. They use that money to fund their crack habit and to also keep a roof over their head. Not all crackheads want to get high in a crack house.

The crackhead that lived next door to me as a kid not only worked but occasionally my mom let her babysit us. This brings me to my next experience.

Crackheads value drugs over money. When I was 4 or 5, I was being babysat by the crackhead next door. I picked up a syringe full of heroin and squirted it, thinking it was a water gun. The crackhead was super angry. I remember my mom offering to pay for the lost drugs, but the junkie didn’t calm down. I actually don’t remember the eventual resolution.

In the world of a crack head, crack is God. Crackheads sell their children to get crack money. Male and female crackheads will suck dick so they can get crack when low on funds. No crime is too great and or too low once a person has sold their soul to the crack devil.

Because of the last point, the crackhead economy is legendary. It’s common to hear someone in the hood talk about “crack prices” when referring to something inappropriately priced. When an object is priced low to expedite sale, it now falls into the crack price range.

My introduction to the concept of crack prices came at age 5. One day my dad parked his car outside and went through extra effort to put his Club anti-theft device on. I asked him why he put The Club on and his response was, “So some crackhead doesn’t steal my car and sell it for 5 dollars.”

That confused me. While 5-year old me didn’t how much cars cost, I knew they were a lot more than 5 dollars. Once I learned that the rock is the most important thing to a crackhead, it all made sense. Since then I’ve watched or been victim to this type of crackhead behavior on a few occasions.

I’ve known crackheads to break out car windows for loose change in the seats, ignoring anything else of value. Once a crackhead broke into my apartment and only stole a jar of change and a cable box. The crackhead is extremely short sighted and is only thinking about the fastest way to get just enough money to get high again.

Superhuman feats ascribed to crackheads are inspired by true events. Crack doesn’t give a person super powers. I joke about the super powers of crackheads, but as one of my favorite song lyrics says “All good jokes contain true shit.” I think what really happens is that the crack changes their brain and allows them to endure more pain than any sober person could.

I’ve seen crackheads get hit by cars and keep moving, fall from a few stories and shake it off l like nothing happened, and I’ve personally seen crackheads jump out of burning buildings and keep moving once they land.

You also don’t really meet any fat crackheads. Maybe crack raises your metabolism, but it is likely just a symptom of the previous observation. Crack is more important to crackheads than food.

If you’ve only got 5 dollars from the car you stole and sold, then you’re going to buy more crack before you get a meal. Even if you haven’t eaten in days.

The biggest problem with illegal drugs is the violence between suppliers, not between buyers. They make a big deal about drug violence and why we need all these laws against drugs. My perspective is unique.  I have no skin in the game either way but grew up at ground zero of war on drugs. Here’s what I’ve observed.

I’ve never actually seen two crackheads fighting one another. I’ve seen them fighting other non-crackheads, but they don’t really war with one another. On the other hand, the crack dealer next door is one of the reasons I had bullet holes in my door.

On a more general note, most of the violence in the hood is related to drugs and control of who sales what, where, and for how much. A random citizen mugging isn’t nearly as common as two dudes blasting each other over a corner.

Bad traits come in clusters. I’ve meet a few dealers of all different substances. My general experience has been that the harder the drug, the worse the human being is that deals it.

I’m sure this is a result of the level of ruthlessness you need to get into and survive the game. Harder drugs are worth more money so the competition is tougher. This is merely speculation, but it makes sense.

The crack dealer that lived next door to me regularly beat the hell out of the girl that lived with him. He had no problem trying to push his way into my house to go after my then 10-year-old sister to try and beat the hell out of her.

She played a harmless prank, but he didn’t care. I pushed the dude back out my house, but for weeks I was convinced his temper would flare up and he’d decide to shoot my 13-year old ass.

Don’t start no shit there won’t be no shit.Drug dealing is a thing a person gets into to make money. The ROI is shitty, but most guys sell drugs as a way to make ends meet. They aren’t in it to fuck the world up or hurt others (despite what drugs do to people). They just want to put food on the table.

You generally don’t have to worry about drug dealers trying to hurt or you rob you for no good reason. Unless you’re a player in the game, you’re safe. Now, these guys may have other issues (the drug dealer that lived next door to me clearly had anger issues), but if you keep to yourself then you don’t have to worry about crack dealers.

Misery loves company.You’ll never meet someone more generous than a hard drug user offering a hit of his drugs. I’ve never used any hard drugs, but I’ve been offered heroin, crack and coke on a few occasions. The dealers weren’t the ones making the offer. It was always a user while they were getting high.

I don’t think something about being a smack or crackhead makes you more altruistic than the general population. I think this is an attempt to normalize their behavior. If you accept their invitation, it makes them feel a lot better about feeding their addiction in your company.

More people are on hard drugs than you think. I didn’t learn this directly from living in the projects. I knew a guy that made home deliveries. One day (in the rash stupidity of youth) I did a ride along with him. I couldn’t come in the house and meet the clients, but we were in some pretty nice areas.

Most clients were getting “soft” (cocaine) but a few wanted “hard” (crack). He told me that most these people were doctors and lawyers buying off him. This reiterates what I’ve stated earlier about drug dealers being functional individuals. These people can hold down a job (a damn good one) but they just like to party.

Living next to crackheads and crack dealers is something I will never do again. However, I can’t deny that I’ve learned some things about life that you can’t pay to learn.

For more lessons I learned from a tough life, get my book here

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