Interview Project, FULL Interviews

Note: The following interviews are true, and a way for me to keep track of what to write about. My final project will have all the other aspects. WARNING: Any institution or person using this site or any of its associated sites for study, projects, or personal agenda – You do NOT have my permission to use any of my writings on this page in any form or forum, both current or future. You do not have my permission to copy, save, or print my writings for your own personal use, including, but not limited to saving them on your computer, posting them on any other website, or this site and passing them off as your own. If you have or do, it will be considered a violation of my privacy and will be subject to all legal remedies.

 

Interview One

She is a young, hardworking professional, that carries herself as such. She is considered a friend, an ally, and confidant to all of the women that live in the home. She is at ease with her employers and with the recovering addicts that live downstairs. She can nearly always be found behind the desk at the lobby, a warm gatekeeper. She dresses like a woman in her twenties but is always appropriate. When I spoke to her about her experiences with drugs and crime, her very disposition changed from that of a self-assured employee, back to a scared teenager that ran when she heard gunshots. Her smile is genuine and her laugh is infectious, and she speaks of her experiences with a quiet acceptance and wisdom far beyond her years.

“I keep seeing teenagers get picked up by the cops,” she tells me, not looking at me, lost in her own thoughts. “They’re small-time drug dealers and they get themselves arrested, and their whole lives are messed up because of that.” She does not expect me to nod in agreement, maybe she expects me to interject – but I am listening as she continues. “I seen people get jumped, I seen people get robbed or some shit,” she’s saying absently, and I know that here, she is referring to her time by the very edge of Morningside Heights, that she had asked me to put down her neighborhood as the one where she works. Technically, she is in the Upper West Side, but she calls it “Greater Harlem” and I believe her. I ask her if she would ever be able to get a gun. “It’s a little harder now for me to get a gun if I wanted,” she explains. “You gotta know people, they gotta be close to you, an’ the police be watchin’ you if you get too close.”

“How long would it take you to get a gun, then, if you wanted?” I asked her.

“It would…prob’ly take a coupla weeks,” she says, and I can see her wracking her brain to land on whatever contact could have a gun. “It’s different now. Back when I was in the Bronx I coulda had one in a hour.”

“What do you think about the cops?” I ask her, carefully. She smirks.

“I been stopped once.” She tells me about walking alone, late at night, and their careful questioning. “It was fine,” she says, dismissively, and I want to press her but I’m already grateful that she has told me so much. “Positive, neutral, negative?” I urge. She nods her head at “neutral”.

“Yeah, it was fine,” she says. The scared look leaves her eyes and I see before me the responsible, confident woman once again.

“It’s easy to get drugs.” The statement is so bold and blatant, I look at her questioningly before she continues. “Whatever you want, you can find it, you can get it.” When I run the list of drugs by her, she can only tell me for a fact that she knows where to get maybe five or six of them, while the others she assumes are easy to get, as well.

She expresses her frustration in the younger drug dealers. “It’s worse now…it’s worse now because you got the young guys doin’ it. They should be in school but they out dealin’ and they gettin’ arrested at fourteen, fifteen, like my brother’s little brother just got harassed by the cops cause he out dealin’, and I just had to talk him down on the phone to not like beat anyone up…” Her voice trails off as I contemplate “brother’s little brother” before registering that it must be a close friend. I didn’t know she was in such close vicinity to drug dealing.

“How are they being caught, how do the cops find them?” I ask her.

“They undercover, they’re undercover,” she says, quickly, as though it is obvious and she is eager to continue her story. She’s heard of countless stories with undercover police officers, that pick up her friends and drag them out of the Upper West Side.

“Is it easier to get drugs or harder to get drugs then it was a few years ago, then?”

She considers this. “It’s easier because they’re young, but hard because now there’s police everywhere.” She tells me that she doesn’t think the amount of drugs on the street has changed, just the faces selling them. Indoors or outdoors, you can get them. “But it’s been a while since I wanted to go near them,” she finishes, making it clear that she does not want to discuss her own experiences.

-This narrative is all directly from the interviewed person-

“So I was hanging outside my store, where I work, and it has like this little stoop, right? And so like the girls are chillin’ there and the guys are on the street, you know how they shooting dice for money, and one of the guys had like the big Cuban piece necklace, like the Jesus one, you know the ones that rappers wear? And like some random guy was like watching them across the street. And so I’m looking and I’m like ‘oh that guy across the street doesn’t look familiar’ but I don’t tell nobody cause I’m mindin’ my own business.

So the guy comes from across the street with his gun out, and cocks it in the back of the head at – at one of the guys on my block, and just yells, he was like ‘give me your chain!’ And everyone is like ‘yo’, so the other, my friend Eric, he hustled on the block. So he ran down the block cause he knows where to get the gun at, so he ran to get his gun while they robbed the other guy and he just yanked his chain and hit him on the back of the head with the gun, so the guy from my block just fell down and ran the other way, and then Eric came back with his gun and just started like shooting up the block. And when I heard gunshots, I just, I took my ass home, thank god I lived across the street. I heard bullets, and I stayed home for the rest of the day. Just like plain daylight, like three o’clock in the afternoon, it was summertime so like kids were out, windows open, and we were all just like hangin’ out, and it just happened…it was so sad.”

Interview Two

The girl sitting in front of me is wildly confident, intelligent, and streetwise. Dressed in sharp black angles and chipped black nail polish, her dark lipstick and hair frame her skin perfectly. She’s in her last few months of school and her interview is that of a bored life planner tired of discussing other people’s futures. She is the very picture of rebellion, and it feels a little dangerous talking to her, only because I know she is well-versed in things that I have never even come in physical contact with. A smile plays across her lips as I ask her questions about her life, in a way that can be considered nothing but mischievous. The same type of girl that got her fake ID at a young age, the same way she discovered she could “lead a man around by his cock” (her words, not mine), she is the epitome of the dark Manhattan baby that will someday run the world, if not arrested first.

“How has crime changed over the last several years?” I ask her, curious myself to know. She smiles readily. “It’s gotten way better,” she says, pulling a cigarette out of her purse and expertly flicking a flame out of her crystal-covered lighter. “The police are around more often, and it’s gotten much more under control.” I ask her if there was ever a time that she would have needed the police, and she thinks it over for a moment. “I don’t really go out alone,” she confesses, “I don’t like being alone much.” Even so, she thinks about the last time she was out alone. “I was at this crappy diner and I went outside to smoke. This guy was out and he was so drunk, and it like wasn’t even two PM yet, so that was gross. And he put his hands on me and he totally just tried to paw me, and I was like ‘dude I will fucking scream’ and he keep trying to feed me these bullshit lines about being friendly, but a few seconds later this other couple walked by. If he had tried anymore I would have lit up a cigarette and burned him,” she tells me, matter-of-factly, as I try to process being mauled by a drunken man on a regular day. “I’ve punched guys before that have tried that. It’s usually harmless enough that I don’t have to, but the second they touch me it’s a problem.” She gives me a once-over. “Isn’t that why you would want them around? Aren’t guys creepy to you?” There are more reasons than that that I’d love the police around, but my Manhattan subject is happy to tell me about her trials by groping and how she’d like it to go down.

I ask her about how drug use has changed over the years, wondering if she will be sensitive to this question. When I had asked her about which neighborhood experience would apply to her, she had told me “drug user” with a smile playing across her lips, as if I was going to pack up my materials and go because of her sordid confession. Seeing my acceptance gave her new confidence to tell me about her own experiences with drugs, as I gently steered her back to how drug use had changed. “It’s gotten worse. There are more drugs that people want to try, and it’s easy to get them.”

“What kind of drugs?” I ask her.

“Oh, Molly, Percocet, Adderall, all those,” she lists them easily, taking a long pull of her cigarette and nodding knowingly. “You know how they’re doing it? They’re faking injuries to get them. If you want them, there’s always a way to get them.” She is well-versed in where to get drugs – I feed her the line “don’t go into Riverside Park at night”, and she starts laughing. “You don’t have to go if someone goes for you,” she says devilishly, and I am again left with a half-truth about what her experiences are with drugs. “A lot of my friends, though, if they want something, they don’t have to look any farther than the medicine cabinet.” I ask her what this applies to, and she says there are a score of drugs that hide behind the mirror in the bathroom. “Do you know how many of my friends have ADHD? It’s like speed,” she says to me, assuming that I don’t understand the intricacies of why people take drugs. She’s young, but she knows where to get the worst kinds of things. While she’s never tried heroin, she could get it within the hour.

-This narrative is all directly from the interviewed person-

“I saw this girl who was naked once, on Molly, in the middle of the winter. It was crazy, I was at this party and she was literally naked, like ankle-deep in the snow. I didn’t stay at that thing for very long. But then there was this other time where I saw this girl on codeine, and she was with like four random guys, and they left with her at this party. And I wasn’t too good myself, but I remember that I was thinking about how her friends thought it was totally okay to let her leave with all those strangers. But you know, this kind of thing happens and that’s why I don’t ever like to try the really heavy stuff, because Molly is fun but only until you really lose control, and then it’s like, you can’t even get back from that. And I know a ton of girls that have been like, coerced into sex because they’re not in control, but nothing like that has ever happened to me. I know my body limits, like really well, so I don’t think anything like that will ever happen. The cops don’t really come now, they did a lot when I was younger. But I’ve never been stopped before, so I don’t really have an opinion on them one way or another. My friends have been stopped, but I hang out with like a lot of scary-looking guys [laughs]. And I don’t let any of it, you know, interfere with my life or whatever, so it’s fine. I don’t really interact with the dealers myself. So, like, cops are fine, I guess? As long as they don’t interfere with my life, I don’t give a shit one way or another.”

Interview Three

“I’m in the school of life,” he tells me, when I ask him about higher education. He’s graduated high school, but barely. With his close-cropped hair, his earring, and his Brooklyn accent hiding behind his knowing smile, he’s a teenager’s crush and a former drug addict. When I ask him questions about his past, he either tells me boldly, confidently, about his experiences, or he looks away and vaguely tells me that he no longer wants to talk about it. I have interrupted his work, and every so often he instructs me to run back and forth to the vending machine to pick up fruit snacks, which he splits with me. He is dressed in dark clothes, but I know it’s uniform. His Android phone is cracked and his headphones are cheap, but he stares at the screen intently before I begin to question him. He’s a sweetheart and a danger to society, according to the best and worst people. But after this interview, he is my friend.

“Well, it’s better now,” he says, when I ask him about how the neighborhood has changed according to crime. He tells me about the times that he’s been stopped, and the times that he should have been stopped. “I could get a gun really easily,” he says, before a shadow crosses his face. “Or I could have, a while ago,” he finishes, off-handedly, as if the twelve steps have penetrated his mind to the point where he can’t even pose a hypothetical answer to me. He’s been stopped a few times, but he tells me that his encounters with the police have been negative. “But we don’t really get along,” he laughs, a little harshly, tearing open another pack of fruit snacks and handing me a few. I ask him if he remembers the people that were murdered the few weeks before, a few blocks away from us. He is cautious about his answers, but instead of walking on eggshells around me, it’s as if he is stomping on them. “We go to AA meetings twice a week here. It’s not just us. It’s a ton of people from the city.” I ask him how he feels about the police being around. “It’s all right. I’m not, like, scared of anything,” he tells me, when I feebly attempt to play devil’s advocate. I don’t want to push him to answer me, and I know that the good stuff is coming, when I get ready to ask him about drugs. “Have you seen more crime this year than other years?” He thinks about this for a minute. Then he smiles, a roguish smile. “I’m being good this year. I can’t tell you much about the crime I’ve seen.”

I ask him about drugs, and he leans back in his chair. “Oh, it’s gotten worse. Definitely worse.” I ask him about staying away from Riverside Park in the middle of the night, and he giggles, then sobers up. “Yeah. Don’t go to Riverside Park in the middle of the night.” I start quizzing him about the drugs, and he is nodding along to every drug that I list. “Per…cocet?” I stumble over the word; he says it automatically. “Percocet.” As the drugs get more outrageous, he is blushing and giggling more.

“You know where to get all of these?” I say this, skeptically, and he bites his lip and smiles again. Sweetheart, danger to the population. “What’s the, what’s the K2 drug?” I ask, now curious. “Is it like the Krokodil drug?” He lets out a bark of laughter and looks at me incredulously.

“How do you know what that drug is?” He asks me, amazed that I could know about something as awful as that. “Where did you learn about that?” I answer vaguely, trying to be as mysterious as he is. “No, seriously. How the hell do you know about that?” I answer and he finally answers me back. “K2 is fake weed.” I nod like I understand and this satisfies him. He knows where to get every single drug on the list, and I am unsure of whether to be afraid of the boy sitting in front of me, or to admire him. He assures me that he has changed his ways, but he reminds me of a junkyard dog, tethered to a post and watching the world pass by him. All of the recovering addicts that live in my basement do, as they serve the women that live above them and bide their time in the prison that I call home. “I got a job as a waiter,” he tells me, as if he is trying to balance his past with his future. I nod appreciatively. The conversation about how drug use has changed is over.

The final question clearly should have been the beginning of the interview for me, as I ask him about his particular experiences with drugs. “How did you know I was an addict?” he says to me, smiling a little, but hesitant and unsure. It certainly wasn’t spelled out in my living contract that the men downstairs were in recovery, and I had only learned about it because of an older woman’s distracted complaint.

“I didn’t,” I answer, carefully, wanting to make him smile again. “Yeah,” he says. “I was a raging addict. And then…I was, I was a raging alcoholic. I’m an addict.” He looks up at me with a big, dopey grin on his face, half daring me to say anything about his previous life, half portraying a deep pride over his achievements. He looks me in the eyes as he tells me all of this, less of a confession, more of a proclamation. I bite my tongue when I think about telling him that he is no longer merely an addict, but a recovering one. It’s not my place to tell him this. “I can’t, I can’t tell you about when I stopped. I don’t remember a lot of it. I don’t…really like talking about it, at all. I mean, it’s okay that you asked about it and stuff. But I am…I’m getting better, and I am working to be better, and I just – “ he pauses, and he looks up at me. Gone is the arrogant, crowing man and in his place is the somber recovering addict. “I think that you’re very brave,” I say to him. He smirks and looks down. “I’m not,” he mumbles. He tells me that he is twenty-eight, but he does not tell me how long he has been sober, or what rock bottom meant to him, or if he thinks he will continue to be sober. I am afraid to ask. I thank him profusely for his interview and he tells me that this neighborhood is better than his last one, that here, he has a place to sleep, and that he can hide behind the desk and pretend that he is just another man.

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