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This happened around 1994 or 1995 when I was going to college at Cal State Long Beach and living at home. I never told anyone other than my wife about it, since my family and friends already think I have a death wish. I don't, I just enjoy a number of things that happen to be risky and (more relevant here) am mildly fascinated by the seedy side of urban life. This would make bad fiction since it's kind of pointless, but the overall incident was pretty interesting, in memory at least.

I was driving down Pacific Coast Highway , which in Long Beach passes through some pretty nasty parts of town. Maybe I was on my way home from fencing, maybe I was just out for a drive, I don't really remember. I was pretty close to my high school, Long Beach Polytechnic, which is in about as nasty a part of town as you can get outside of Compton, a couple miles north. I pulled in to a gas station to fill up, and while I was pumping I was approached by a man asking for a lift. He looked about 30, heavy-set, black, poor judging by his clothes and demeanor, friendly but a little out of it, and was carrying a small bundle in plastic grocery bag, something I had recognized since highschool as the universal calling card of the drug dealer.

Of course, my first sensible insinct was to decline but he looked so harmless (yes, I know that looks can be decieving) that I ended up saying, "Sure." So I finished filling up and we got in. He was pretty chatty, so we go to talking, even before we left the gas station. He asked me what I did, I told him I was studying philosophy at CSULB, and stuff like that. This chit-chat went on for quite a while, maybe 20 minutes or so. At one point he said, "You see, I understand you so well because you're a part of me."

*pause* "What do you mean?" I asked. Now he was starting to sound weird.

"You're a part of me. Everyone is a part of me." I wasn't sure if he meant it in a spiritual we're-all-one sense or in an I-am-the-lord-thy-god sense. I never did find out, but he did seem convinced of its predictive power because he started making guesses about my life and personality.

The first one or two were fairly accurate (I don't recall what they were now, maybe whether or not I had a girlfriend or whereabouts I lived, things like that), which I must admit spooked me a little but his accuracy quickly waned. His guessing streak having ended, he started asking me more questions. "You drink?" He asked.


"Smoke pot?"


"Damn man, what do you do?" I told him I fenced, fiddled with computers, read, wrote, stuff like that, but he just wouldn't believe that I didn't do any drugs. "Yeah, but... what do you do when you hang out with your friends?" he asked.

I told him we liked to watch movies, argue, play chess, etc. He threw back his head and laughed.

"You mean you really don't do pot or anything?"


"Damn, man."

So we finally got going. Turned out he wanted a lift to his friend's place not too far away. I drove him there -a street in the Long Beach ghetto, just like any other, with the same cheap stucco ranch houses and 20 year-old cars on the street. He got out and went to the door, asking me to wait just a minute. By this point I wasn't surprised in the least at being asked to wait after giving a stranger a lift, so I just said, "Sure, no problem." His friend came to the door and they talked for a bit. He introduced me, I shook hands with his friend from the seat of my car, and his friend offered me a hotdog. I said No, thanks, explaining that I was a vegetarian. My fare shook his head and laughed.

They ended up talking for about 20 minutes. My fare went inside to get some carrots, then came out, ready to get a ride back to where I picked him up.

And that was my adventure with a presumed drug dealer.

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