PONCHO’S GOT A JOB !…In the World’s Oldest Profession

| February 20, 2011 | Comments (0)


I saw my young friend and neighbor, Poncho,  on the street yesterday. He was chillin’ on the corner in front of the local bodega. I never patronize that store because the owners are short change artists.  Their techniques for trickery know no bounds. Who could blame them, I guess.  Half  the customers are easy prey – either drugged-out, dashing for the bus or lost in an Iphone world of  soundtracks – too distracted to count their change or  incapable of doing so.

 My own experience with these scheisters  includes paying for something  with a ten dollar bill and getting change for a fiver or being the victim of the pregnant pause. Buying something that costs 95 cents, paying with a ten dollar bill, getting back immediately  five cents change on  the one dollar and nothing more: when I ask for  the remaining $9, I get a blank stare from behind the counter and   a “You gave me a $1, right? ” After a long pause,  I threaten to call the cops and the correct change is  forthcoming. I prefer to go to the honest Dominican tienda up the block.

But back to Poncho. He’s having a smoke and looks like he doesn’t have a care in the world.  A remarkable mindset for somebody who’s just been booted out of his apartment – and that includes his girl and their three kids – with no prospect for housing other than going to a homeless shelter. Having known Poncho for several years now – since he was 20 – and having heard most of his hard luck stories in what appears to be a downward spiral  to ruin, I never cease to be amazed at his constant good humor and cheerful state of mind.

I’ve come to believe this seemingly cock-eyed optimism  is an emotional survival mechanism common to many people on chronic welfare. Without  making a genuine effort  to better their lives by actually attempting to find gainful employment, they live in a dream world  believing  that one day they will win the New York Lotto – “Hey, Ya Never Know!” the lottery ad tells them – or that they might  be hit by a car or a falling brick from a building cornice or maltreated by an incompetent doctor and then sue for big bucks. It happens all the time, if we can  believe the tabloid press and TV, so why shouldn’t my neighbors hope for a bit of the action ?

Poncho tells me he spends $25 a week on Lotto tickets and scratch cards. That’s $100 a month. Add to this, his two-pack a day cigarette habit,  and with a pack of Marlboros costing $10,  I do the math and tell him he is spending $700 a month on dangerous and foolish nonesense.  He coughs, then expectorates on the sidewalk to signal his disapproval of my hectoring and draws close to me. I realize I am about to be privy to some confidential information.

I am not disappointed. In a display of intimacy I didn’t realize we had achieved, Poncho tells me he has posted his profile – with pictures – on a website. When I press him for details he tells me to go to rentboy.com and I can see for myself.   I go home, open my computer. I read his “profile”  consisting  of information about his physical  endowments and abilities, accompanied  by photos of a graphic nature. He charges $200 an hour; same as my lawyer.

This morning when I see Poncho again I ask him if he has had any clients yet and he says,  “A few.” I take a deep breath, warning  him about STDs and using protection. He assures me  he is “cool” with that, but immediately destroys my confidence in his judgement by saying he can always tell if a person is “clean” or not by looking at them. If they “look right” he says he knows they are healthy.

I roll my eyes and start to walk away, but Poncho catches me by the arm and asks me for $15. Says he has to take a cab up to the North Bronx  to see his Mother. When I tell him he should take a bus or the subway, he says he prefers cabs. Quicker and nicer, he instructs me, throwing out a sideways glance that indicates I am a retard. I lie saying I am broke, pat him on the shoulder and walk away…to the subway.

I have no moral problem with the world’s oldest profession and I wish Poncho good luck in his new career. After all,  many people famous in history have climbed the rungs to fame and fortune using their “charms.” One of my favorite people is the late American Ambassador to Paris, Pamela Digby Churchill Heyward Harriman. The French loved their American Ambassador and nicknamed  Her Excellency ” La Grande Horizontale.” Oh those French !

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