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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Fear of Hustling

Okay, I've been a cook, package handler, game room attendant, dock supervisor, mail room clerk, HR recruiter, telemarketer, professional gambler, and a few more job titles that I can't think of at this moment. Despite having worked a number of shitty jobs over the years at the heart of all of them, I've always been a hustler. In fact, the shittier the job, the better hustler I was. For instance, I used to sell mix cds on the 169 bus when I was a package handler at UPS. I was in college, barely scratching $150 per week, but I remember a number of individuals who sold bootleg cds when I was a student at SIU. I learned the game from them and kept my ear to the street and to the radio to keep up with what's hot and I would make sure that I always got the songs and mixes that everyone wanted. I considered myself a true hip-hopper back in those days who had a lot of hard to find music in my collection. Oh, how I long for the days of Napster and Kazaa when they were free and had hard to find music ranging from DFC, to the chocolate factory bootleg that made me hundreds of dollars.

With me being an artist you might think that I feel guilt about being a bootlegger back in the day. FUCK NO.. in fact I'm proud of it. I'd like to kick myself in the ass for taking the promotion to a part-time supervisor position even to this day, although I learned a different hustle, motivating men. In learning that hustle, I lost the fearlessness I possessed when I was selling bootleg cds to a bunch of individuals that I didn't know.. initially. I'd walk up to people and say "what do you listen to? Who's your favorite rapper? Singer?" Then I'd get them engaged in conversation (this bus ride was an hour), then BAM! I'd pull out my large cd collection that people were highly impressed with. Then I'd say "I can get you anything you want in that binder for $5 and if its not on that binder, get me the name of the songs you want and the order you want them in and I'll have em for you by the end of the week (this was before WI-FI cards and high speed internet).

Then I worked a bunch of telemarketing and sales jobs, I got used to hiding behind a phone when asking people to buy that I developed a fear of no because I got hung up on so much. When people heard me selling on the phones during a good economy I was told "man Glenn, you should sell cars. You'd be really good!" At that point, people had been belligerent so many times over the phone that I had said "I can't take these people being rude to me face to face." This fear had stopped me from selling to people in person.

Shortly after going into sales, I started experiencing a high level of success in local poker tournaments and in the $2/5 and $5/10 no limit games at the local casinos. I did this for a few years and got tired of the up and down swings of this lifestyle, not to mention that I saw that a lot of the bad players were going broke to myself and other pros so the games started drying up. I traveled down south to try to keep myself going, but eventually poor money management, loaning deadbeats, bad swings, and allowing too many railbirds to play on my bankroll temporarily forced me out of the gambling life. However, I was a hustler of a different sort on the felt. I'd play tight-aggressive for a stretch, then loose aggressive, then somewhere in-between. I had developed an ability to keep my opponents off balance and hustle them out of money based on my level of deception or hand strength depending on the situation. Now that construction jobs have slowed, there aren't as many bad poker players lurking around in the Chicago area poker rooms. The Majestic and Ameristar is dead, and while the Hammond Horseshoe has taken all the poker business from other local casinos, it takes an hour and a half for me to get there thanks to its location. No thanks!

Then I started playing online for low-stakes and won enough money to cover set-up fees and my first print run. Around this time, I started working square jobs again and initially I didn't have the time to sell my books. Then with my hours having been reduced at my job and me having spent my bankroll on the production of my book, I was forced to try to sell off my first print run with little success. The reason being: I was scared to walk up to people and ask them for $15. Now all of a sudden, I'm just like the man who sells Streetwise newspapers. People look at my book selling as a broke desperate author, no one wants to buy a book from a desperate author! I had forgotten how to hustle so I'm replaying all these negative thoughts in my mind and as a result I would sit in the train station and watch people enter while being scared to approach them; until one day I got tired of wasting my bus fare to not sell my book. This time I mustered up enough courage to approach a young white girl, who might have been a teenager and as I was trying to tell her about my book, something magical happened as I tried to hand her a copy. She said, "no thank you sir, I'm not interested!" I hesitated for a split second because I was amazed at how her rejecting my sales pitch didn't feel as bad as I thought it would. I then said thank you and moved on to the next person that looked like she fit my demographic, and now I'm a hustler again!