SEPTEMBER 14, 2007

I like to think of myself as an honest man. I also like to think of myself as ruggedly handsome, debonair, and puckishly charming. A modern-day Cary Grant, you might say. If you were sporting some major beer goggles, or you'd never met me. But seriously, I never mix business and pleasure: I only lie on the job. Of course, a guy like me is always on the job. That's basically the key to my business right there: always be open for business and ready for anything. That's a free lesson you might want to write that down.

Lesson number two: don't believe everything you hear, or everything you read. Just believe me. I'm not all bad, honestly. I wouldn't lie to you like I said, I only lie when there's money in it. And since we're strangers to each other unless you happen to frequent the fine drinking establishment known as Pastures Tavern where I can sometimes be found I'm gonna give you a few words of advice. Stay away from Pastures, and stay away from guys like me. That is, if you like holding on to your money. You could be the nicest guy in the world, you could be my freakin' brother, but if I see an opportunity to make a few bucks off you, well, look out. Because I can resist anything but temptation, and this world is full of temptation for a guy on the grift.

Take this guy I met a few days back. This Monk guy was smart, no question, but he was one of the most nave people you've ever met. Seriously, the man had the street smarts of a six year old. Nice guy, real nice guy. Not much of a drinker. We had a little talk, and I ended up palming his wallet. Smoothest bills I've ever seen. Really remarkable, actually. I almost hated to spend them they were so clean and unwrinkled. Anyway, sure I "robbed" this Monk guy, or whatever you want to call it. But I felt bad about it, that's the thing.

I guess something's gotten into me lately, because I have to say I don't generally feel too bad about what I do or I wouldn't do it. Most of the time it's your typical frat boys or winos I deal with, guys who don't know their butt from a Budweiser, and I don't have a real ethical problem with helping them part with their money. But every now and then I cross paths with a different kind of guy, the kind of guy who doesn't really belong in the big bad city, and definitely doesn't belong in the big bad city after dark. A guy like Monk. And it gives you pause, that's all I'm saying.

But lest I give you the impression that I'm struggling with some serious guilt issues, let me assure you that the fact of the matter is I'm pretty happy with the line of work I'm in. I'd say my job satisfaction level is a lot higher than most people's. Now, I'm not trying to recruit anyone here, I'm just saying, I like what I do and I do what I like. What more could a guy really ask for? And besides, this job ain't easy. You think you can be some sort of con artist just because you've seen a few movies and you know a couple of card tricks? Think again. This takes real talent. Natural aptitude. Charisma. Experience. Commitment. Ability to read people. Ability to handle your liquor. It can take years to develop that sort of skill. So do yourself a favor and go to law school instead. Make your momma happy.

Well, that's about enough out of me. Only a fool gives advice; only a bigger fool takes it. But what the hell, here's just one more word of advice before Gully the Good Samaritan closes up shop. Remember what they say: the day is for honest men, the night for thieves. So either stay home with your DVDs and your cat, or I'll be seeing you around real soon.

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