Like I mentioned before, customer management is hugely important in my line of work. If you are not strict with your punters, you can have them running you ragged in no time at all. The clients I kept around me knew the rules; obeyed them to the "T" and therefore continued to get a good service.
If your "dealer" is difficult to contact; shorting your measures, or even giving you shit weed imported straight from Thailand, I would suggest changing your approach, or find someone else to buy from. If I did not like a customer, I would try any of the above, until finally if they pissed me off enough, I would stop answering their calls. It's not easy turning business away, but sometimes it's beneficial to weed out the wrongens', if you can pardon my pun.
Some customers are just a pain in the arse, calling up any time of the day or night, always asking for tick; chatting far too much shit to be tolerated; constantly giving the big "I am." Any number of reasons which are harmless enough but are obviously truly annoying, and result in getting them put on the shit list, but certainly not barred. It takes a lot to get barred.
Then you get the bad eggs, few and far between (thank god); these guys generally come from the rougher end of the scale, and from the area I live in, if you were considered "a rough," that definitely said something.
The title character of today's column was considered rough; Bazza (named after Barry White for his extremely deep voice) was only 17 at the time: average height, average build; but he had a reputation to say the least. At school (when he bothered to turn up) he was always in trouble; passed around the different schools in the area. His mum constantly fighting expulsion, she just gave up in the end, and so he got his way and left school before the end of his last year. Finally she moved him in with his uncle; a male role model he craved. But I suspected that the move was to get him away from his younger brothers, who were yet to follow in his footsteps and took up 90 per cent of his mum's time.
The trouble was his uncle was one of the nuttiest fuckers around; generally friendly but with an edge akin to a serrated pocket knife. A stocky builder -- cash in hand, of course -- he would laugh louder than anyone in the boozer, shout harder, and damn well knew every geezer in the area...or at least appeared to, as he strutted around all the pubs in the area. He had a distinctive look; stuck firmly in the '90s, but no-one took the piss -- he just did not seem stable enough to joke with. In the pub he would walk outside leaving his wallet and mobile on the bar. No-one else did this of course; if anyone else did they would return to find it stolen with no witnesses in the tiny snug.
In the boozer every night, he never seemed to have less than a monkey in his pocket and for years my mate Jay spoke of him with a hushed tone.
"He drives for the..."
"He did this guy..."
"He fucked up these people..."
"He conned or did over this poor schmuck..."
"He stole the crown jewels..."
Jay loved these tall-tales, and even if some were complete lies, Jay did not care; Jay's heroes were not on TV. As a young man, Jay was envious of the local's characters: the nutters, hard nuts, dealers. The uncle was a big character, that much should be obvious by now.
By the time I started to notice Bazza, he was already making waves in my circle; aged 15 he was supplying half his school with puff, buying enough and cutting it up to get his smoke for free. Then after that he would knock around the boozer, his little gang, huddled around him, holding court each night with the teens in the boozer already appointing him their leader.
When he first made contact with me he was great -- he knew Chazz, my strawberry-blonde, West Ham-supporting, Xbox-playing mate who had basically moved in with me over the summer. He used Chazz to get in touch with me; only came around once or twice a week and paid every time. He was a good customer, but then he started to change somewhat.
The first time he called my number himself he was fine, but he wanted a decent amount on tick; I was not sure about him, so told him I only had a half ounce (£70 at the time) and he could have that. He took a while to pay me back, but faster than a few of my other "clients" that I was not overly bothered. The next time he was getting some for his uncle; again on tick, but smaller amounts -- this grew more common as time went by. Turning up and paying me for the previous batch, then taking more on credit, "I will sort you out next time" always followed by an excuse:
"My debit card was lost/broken/stolen."
"I accidentally left the rest of the cash in doors????"
"Pay day tomorrow or the next day."
"Someone owes me, and when I get that back blah fucking blah."
Or the new favourite one, "my uncle gets paid soon, and he owes me."
Always followed by "sorry maaaaaaate..."
After Bazza had become well-established as a customer, it was rare if I did not hear from him daily, and seeing him almost as often. He was always texting the same phrase:
"Any joy mate?"
My reply varied:
"Yeah mate, I am in now."
"Yeah mate, will be in after 4pm."
"Nah mate, I drop you a line when."
He accepted these answers and would do as instructed. This soon gave way to a less acceptable behaviour, (if you're ever thinking of partaking in this particular trade, never do this unless you have been told it is 100 per cent ok), the little prick began to turn up on my door step uninvited.
Unknown intercom buzzers were the worst: the panic was instant. "FAARK, who da fuck is that?!" my tray quickly stuffed under the sofa, ashtray as well, and a quick spray round the room; my paranoid behaviour clearly a result of my smoking habit.
My heartbeat would always be pounding long after I had let in the unexpected visitor, often a mate or less-than-appreciated punter, and would take half hour to truly relax again.
Bazza then starting turning up even if I said I was out, or out of stock. He either did not believe me or was just that desperate to get some skunk. They say it is not addictive, and physically I guess "they" have proof, but when you have someone ring you up 15 times a day to see if:
"Anything has turned up yet?"
...You quickly realise that if it's not addictive, then skunk must be hypnotic. I think the mixture of narcotics Bazza was taking by the time he was 17 was a major influence on him, also having no dad around and a tired-from-life single mum certainly aided his downward spiral.
The first I realised there was a problem was in the local; some of the regulars informed me Baz had been gobbing off about me the previous night. That I had stitched him up on a deal, and that he was going to "fuck me up".
Funnnily enough, there he was on the pool table; as I approached he was all smiles:
"Alright maaaaaate?", both words drawn out far too long.
There was no problem; he dismissed the accusasions completely and said the guys who told me were the ones he had mugged off as they had shorted him on a deal the night before and he called them on it.
He offered me pint after pint and I left the pub much later pissed out of my head; the next morning the first text was a familiar one: "any joy mate?"
Followed by the buzzer of the flat door, I knew it was Baz.
I did not want to let him in; I had a tonne of Lemon Haze in the spare room and even more in the living room. It was almost too wet to sell but I was given a good deal as the guy wanted to shift it. My flat stank as a result. As soon as Baz was in, he buzzed around the Haze, sniffing it, deeply inhaling, like he knew what he was doing, telling me how nice it was. He wanted to take the lot, but with £140 he got just an ounce -- full price at the time, as I said he was not a favourite of mine. I must confess, I sold him very wet skunk; by the time it dried out his profit would have also evaporated.
Boom, Boom, I slowly awoke from my hazy sleep.
Boom, I sat bolt upright, what the fuck?
Boom, fuck it must be the old bill, how did they find out?
As I run to the door the peep hole firstly reduced my fears, it was Baz? He then raised his boot and push-kicked the door, sending him shooting backwards into someone else in the dim hallway. There, were three or four blurry shapes stood behind Baz, clearly all possessed with the same intention.
This is where living in a rough-as-arseholes area, in a council flat, had advantages. The door was reinforced, and had so many locks they were not getting in. But how long would they stay for? How would I get out?
My main worry was the weed; still at least three days from being dry enough to sell, and with no way of hiding it I had to keep in in situ. But I could not phone the cops for protection; they would not be dumb enough to miss this stash, or smell it. Luckily the building's residents were used to shouting in the halls, and the police very rarely called in for a domestic-type disturbance.
I picked up my bat that was always next to the front door and waded into the living room, throwing on shorts and trainers -- if they got in now, I was ready. Walking to the door the banging had stopped. Baz shouted through the door:
"I know you're in there you c*nt, you owe me, you c*nt!"
His mates jeering him on, adding their own sly comments. Although they were young, I wasn't fooled into thinking these guys would not have fucked me up. I can admit to being terrified long after they had walked away. I watched from the window as they slowed trudged off after a good five minutes' more abuse, constantly looking back. One of Baz's mates became extremely active as they swaggered off, flipping the bird as he walked. I had never even see that prick before.
I called Chazz, no answer. He finally called back and said that Baz claimed I kept stitching him up on deals and that I owed him money. Chazz also told me that as his uncle was the end customer, he had "c*nted me off" in the boozer all night.
Bing, a text: "I am getting my money back you mug; think you can mug my uncle off!"
Bing, another: "Do you know who my uncle is, he is going to fuck you up!"
Bing: "I AM GOING TO CALL THE OLD BILL."
The little fucker, the worst sort of threat: a grass to boot! I spent the morning packing up the gear, using six black bin bags, I moved it to the front door. My cousin Steve soon turned up with his van and I ran the stuff to a different location. I really did not want to move the Lemon Haze, but had no choice.
Unfortunately on the drive back, we saw Baz and his crew. The van was buzzed with coins, cans; even a lighter bounced off the windscreen. Steve just drove through it. He wanted none of the spritely young lads. To be honest, as angry as I was, I could not see us winning there and then; in fact we could have saved ourselves a hiding.
Over the next three days Baz contacted my girlfriend (of sorts) to tell her I had Aids; sent flowers to my flat saying sorry for the loss, and I was fed a constant stream of either abuse via text or stories from the local; Chazz being my main contact, a good mate at this time the strawberry-blonde lad was.
Baz was getting angrier; he turned up in the local with a knife the size of Mick Dundee's -- what the fuck was going on? How had this got to a stage where my life was being threatened on a daily basis?
Baz hung around outside my block of flats, often coming up and banging on the door, screaming abuse through and then returning back outside; with a grow-tent in the spare room my options were still limited.
Then, the final straw. Chazz called me to say that Baz now believed I was running around town telling everyone and anyone I had grassed up his uncle for this or that.
I had to act. Still deciding the police was not an option, I did the only thing I could. Fronted up, slightly, and called his uncle.
I was shitting a brick when the phone was ringing; I almost cut the call off, but then his uncle answered.
"Who da fuck is dis, ya ha ha?" I heard. Definitely an interesting way to answer the phone.
As it turns out his uncle, while a loon in his own right, was concerned, his nephew was doing more gear than he had ever done himself; got caught up in the lifestyle, trading, never making more profit than he stuck up his nose, followed by weed, mandy (MDMA), pills -- the fucking lot. And he had flipped.
His arguments with me were being replicated with several other dealers, and he was quickly getting a worse reputation than his uncle himself had ever had.
Months later, Baz was arrested then sectioned. He firstly barricaded the cul-de-sac his uncle's house was situated in with wheelie bins, before attacking several cars with a machette. Qucikly released and sober for a day, his next act was far more worrying. With a machete, clearly his weapon of choice, he attacked someone outside one of the local pubs.
A seemingly motiveless attack, when Baz's uncle tried to stop his machete-wielding nephew he himself was struck in the shoulder. It took four fully-grown men to wrestle him to the ground, and another three to stop his uncle from stamping on his head. To say the outside of the pub looked like a battlefield is an overstatement, but it was not far off.
I found out later he attacked the first person outside the pub because...
"They f*cking shorted me on a deal!"
Over the years since this incident, Baz has been in and out of prison, or sectioned a multitude of times; every time he was released, he was only weeks away from going back inside.
Either on a violent tip or having just completely lost it, Baz robbed the local garden centre. His haul included several soon-to-be-dead koi, he was later found defecating in the lounge of a flat near where he lived, having reportedly attacked a shop owner when he did not give him the correct change and spent the three days previous to that messy incident living in the woods, as he wanted to get in touch with nature.
So if you are about to start your own "business," certainly heed this cautionary tale: look out for the wrongens'; some may wake you up in the middle of the night with a text message, but others may spend three days trying to break into your flat; steal your gear and defecate in your flat.
Jamie Snoll is a pseudonym for a drug-dealer born and bred in Essex, who offers up a view from the different side of the law to our Friday columnist Matt Delito. Check back this Friday for Matt’s next episode.