Four years ago I was selling my art on the street in Brooklyn.
When the street is your “office”, your “coworkers” are interesting.
The other artists were few and far between. The Jamaican sunglasses sellers had seemingly been there for decades. They had their spot and made it clear that a flag was planted years ago. Don’t bother.
The jewelry makers were soft because, well, they made jewelry quietly took whatever spots that were left.
Then you had your outliers.
One guy had just got out of prison for something, I didn’t ask. He decided to set up across from me, stringing his old, but colorful suits across a line of thick string in front of a vacant storefront.
He would yell “Yo, suits! For sale! Cheap!" The hook wasn’t working for some reason.
We started chatting and he suggested we help each other.
Before I even had a chance to say it might not be a good fit, he got in the face of a man walking down the sidewalk and said “YO. You seen this guy’s fucking art?” The man, terrified but trying to pretend he wasn’t, doubled his walking pace and desperately tried to avoid him and his second hand suits.
He said he stole the suits from someone and just needed to sell one suit to get enough money to buy a snake from a guy he knew in Canarsie. Then people would want to take pictures with the snake on the street and he would charge them for a photo.
“People want a photo, then I tell them that shit costs money to feed the snake. They always pay. For real, though, people love snakes. I got this dude, he’s sold me like 3, 4 snakes before. I made good money.”
It probably didn't work out too good for those other snakes but he’s done this before. Let that sink in.
People think hustling is staying up all night typing on a laptop, drinking coffee and thinking what a soldier they are. That’s working or “grinding” as the kids say. I’m not knocking hard work but there is a difference.
Hard work is having a goal and utilizing discipline to achieve it.
Hustling is a drive born from necessity because livelihood is at risk.A survival tactic that desperately grasps any idea that will change your current state.
Sometimes that means getting yourself some snakes.
Historically, the word “hustle” stems from getting money from one person’s pocket into yours.
Not instagram ads.
It meant Darwinism. Tricking people dumber than you.
Three card Mary. Palm reading. Selling fake watches to suckers. Face to face shady shit.
Hustling is getting out of prison and selling a bright orange three piece suit on the street so you can get a snake because you have a plan and it doesn’t include sleeping on a bench again.
Two days later he had a small boa constrictor and making about $40 an hour cash which means theres some sucker walking around Brooklyn in a stolen, bright orange suit. And you have to respect that.
That’s hustle. I wish I saw that guy more. I hope he finally got that snake money.