Culture Shock: John Bear ponders a career change
 Alibi V.20 No.10 • March 10-16, 2011 

Culture Shock

Literature Once Again Provides Employment Opportunities

The economy is in bad shape. Collective bargaining is under attack. Unemployment is high. The country appears to be headed for another Great Depression.

It can be hard to find gainful employment that covers all of one's operating costs.

Fortunately, there is I Am the Market: How to Smuggle Cocaine by the Ton, in Five Easy Lessons (Faber & Faber) by Italian journalist Luca Rastello.

To paraphrase a character from the classic 90s blaxploitation flick Deep Cover— cocaine, an addictive alkaloid, distorts the thought processes, destroys the sex drive and makes most people too obnoxious to bear.

Coke is worth a lot of money. It seems like kind of an 80s drug, but tough times call for tough measures. Alcohol was big during the Depression and people nowadays are depressed.

Rastello interviewed some paisanos involved in the coca trade. That's rule No. 1: You have to call it coca. If it’s ultra-pure, handmade, top-shelf stuff, it’s called “pearl,” and it costs $100,000 a kilo (actual fact!). Be discerning. Otherwise you'll look like a tourist.

Unfortunately, the voice used in this book emulates the speech patterns of someone who may have had their hands in the coca jar, so to speak. I didn’t find the lessons all that easy.

No worries. I think I figured it out for you. And it only took four steps.

1) Have absolutely no conscience.

2) Move to South America.

3) Meet narco-traffickers.

4) Import cocaine.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you will be paid. And you’ll keep others paid on both sides of the drug war, according to this book. The narco-trafficantes get a piece. Then there are the politicians, rehab businesses, etc. The losers are the peasants in the drug-producing countries and the end-users in the U.S. and abroad. And mules, those people who swallow big chunks of coca and get on planes. They are almost always used as decoys.

Your financial concerns will soon be a thing of the past. If I may, a toast: To human misery.

Oh, but one more thing—it’s important to note that being a highly paid cocaine smuggler carries certain risks:

1) Going to prison in Venezuela

2) Getting shot

3) Being a bad person

4) Being around other bad people

[Thoughtful pause.]

On the other hand, you might want to consider going to graduate school.