This Is The Life

Meet Tanya, a 28-year-old hustler from St. Paul

Tanya: I got some BCs and I've got some dro, but I keep that for myself. I sell high quality regular green.

CP:Recently, in a news story, the police said that BC bud sells for $6,000 a pound. Is that an accurate figure?

Tanya: It's $300 an ounce. $350 if you are a lame.

CP:What's a lame?

Tanya: It's a regular everyday person that doesn't have no connections to somebody who's bigger.

CP:So, I'm a lame.

Tanya: [laughs] They'd see you and be like, You're a reporter? Oh, wow, $6,500 for her. They'd think you've got money.

CP:What's the difference between a white dealer and a black dealer?

Tanya: [This white guy I know] quit recently. He's out of the game because he recently got robbed. He got robbed a lot in life because of him being a tall, skinny, scrawny white boy. Black dudes and white dudes do things differently. They get jacked and they are like, Fuck it, I'll get back up. Give me a week and I'll come back. That's white. Black person gets jacked, it's like, Oh shit. Call the homies, we got to go do an investigation. Heads are going to roll.

CP:Didn't you recently work a straight job?

Tanya: I got this job at Mrs. Fields Cookies last year because I am like, you know, I am desperate to have a job somewhere. You can't get hired. I had been job hunting for like six months, literally going out to the Mall of America and walking all the floors. Filling out like 30 applications in one day. I got this job at Mrs. Fields because a friend of my brother's grandmother had a neighbor who was the manager of the Roseville store. I thought, Okay, I got my foot in the door. I am going to do this. I don't care how much it pays. It's a job. It's honest money. I get there and she's like, It's $7.25 an hour. Oh my god! I could sit home and make $150 on an average day off my phone. And not have to lift much of a finger. This is $7.25 and I'm busting my ass. I'm like, How many breaks do I get? And they said, Only one for 30 minutes. You work for eight hours and you are on your feet the whole seven and a half hours. And this shit is killing me. I got flat feet. Also, it was a nerve-wracking thing to see so much money passing through my hands. I'm used to putting it in my pocket. But I'm not a thief. I knew where it was going.

CP:How long did you last?

Tanya: Three weeks. I quit because I was tired of going around all that. And I wasn't making any money. I got free cookies, all I could eat. But shit, that ain't helping me either. My dress size is going to go up. And it is like, there is nothing positive in this shit. My back hurts, my leg hurts, my feet hurt every day.

CP:Did you graduate high school?

Tanya: No. I made it to 12th grade. But I always did a lot of reading.

CP:What sorts of things do you like to read?

Tanya: True stories, murder mysteries, serial killers, stuff like that. I don't want to be a serial killer, but I guess I could identify with their thoughts. Like that movie Alive. I'm not fittin' to die, so if there are like two dead bodies and everybody is sitting around cold and freezing, ain't ate in two weeks, could you hand me a Bic? He's dead over there, hand me a knife. Some people are like, I couldn't do this. I couldn't eat that. We were just watching the best of Survivor yesterday with my cousins. And they were like, I couldn't do that. And I'm like, For a million dollars, I'm going to be chewing down a testicle. I hate to say it, but it doesn't even have to be cooked. I'm going to earl for days, just thinking about it. But at least I'll be earling in my own house. I mean if I had a million dollars, I don't want no $100,000 home. Hell, no. I want something that's in the Midway, a decent three-bedroom, all mine, to run buck naked through and do what I want. Fuck it.

CP:Where do you live now?

Tanya: That's a funny thing. I was in a relationship for like two years. And when it was over, all my shit was gone. And everyone was like, Why don't you go into a shelter? When you don't have kids, there are no programs to help you. I've checked everywhere. I've tried to play the abuse victim thing. That didn't help. I went to this women's abuse shelter because everyone was like, abused women get hooked up. They get apartments. They get on Section 8. They get some type of guidance so they can make it on their own. I went in there and made up a story. As soon as I get in there, they are looking at my clothes and thinking abused women don't look like that. Is that a Coach purse?

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