Roar writer Laura Maxwell in an interview with a drug dealer who changed paths from finance and hospitality due to the Covid-19 job market.
For many people, the country entering a nation-wide lockdown poses various concerns, a critical one being job security. If your job is deemed “unessential”, you become one of many to risk facing redundancy. For one gentleman, a change in employment was necessary; but this was not through conventional means. Desperate times call for desperate measures and, in this case, turning to drug-dealing had glamourised appeal. For obvious reasons, the gentleman who stepped forward to be interviewed will remain anonymous. What I hope will be achieved by this interview’s publication is for it to shine a light on the consequences of Covid-19, not only on the national economy, but on individual private and moral lives.
Roar: What were you doing for employment prior to drug dealing?
Anon: I was employed in financial services working in Risk Assurance. I’d been employed for just over five and a half years. Previous to that, I’d worked in hospitality in various management and supervisory roles in pubs, bars and cocktail venues.
R: When were you laid off from that job?
A: I was made redundant on December 31st 2019. I’d been aware of the impending redundancy for just over a year.
R: Did you try and find other employment?
A: Having been working full time for just over 16 years, I decided that I would use the money I received from my redundancy payout to take a couple of months off at the start of the year and recharge my batteries. The plan was to start looking for a similar position come the springtime. I’d made contact with a number of people who I knew in the recruitment industry and was told that, with my CV and experience, I’d have no trouble finding work when needed. However, the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything entirely.
R: How were you personally affected when most businesses were shut down and the furlough scheme was introduced?
A: Where I’d previously made contact with people regarding new employment, or lucrative contract work, I was informed that these options were now off the table – given lockdown, work-from-home restrictions, and huge uncertainty around the economy and financial services in general. The option of going back into any form of hospitality work on a short term basis was obviously off the cards too.
R: What was the final decider that you were going to turn to drug dealing for a living?
A: My redundancy payout would only last so long and I needed to keep a roof over my head, my bills paid, and food in the cupboard. Given the circumstances around Covid-19, I would also need to keep myself entertained in order to stay sane. I’d been living and coping with depression and anxiety for approximately 18 months prior to my redundancy and was in a stable, managed place mentally. If I was unable to pay my rent or bills I’d have needed to move. With being unemployed, my options would have been limited and I may have been forced into moving back home – something I definitely wanted to avoid for my own personal mental health.
R: Do you see this as a long-term employment, or do you plan to return to legitimate means in the foreseeable future?
A: This is strictly a short-term thing. I would hope that I’d be able to return to legitimate employment in 2021, whenever it is deemed safe to do so, or whenever the job market allows me to. This definitely isn’t something I will carry on doing.
R: What are your average monthly earnings?
A: I make enough to pay my rent, bills, food shopping, to entertain myself and to put an amount away each month. There are quiet weeks and busy weeks, so I make sure that I have enough money available to cover any emergencies or unexpected expenditures. If I wrote down everything and worked it out, I think I’d be on a comparable wage to my previous employment, so my lifestyle hasn’t actually changed that much.
R: Mentally, do you think you’re happier doing this job than previously?
A: I would much rather be working a job similar to the one I had previously. It was well paid and I was good at it. However, that’s not currently possible. My working hours are now evenings and weekends. I have a trusted client base of friends and friends-of-friends that keep me ticking over. There are obvious risks to what I’m doing but, given my previous role, I’m versed in assessing these risks – albeit of a completely different kind. I’ve made judgement calls with what I’m currently doing to ensure that I’m mentally stable and not putting myself in situations that may be unfavourable, to say the least.
R: Do you have any moral conflictions with what you do for a living considering the severity and potential consequences of unregulated drug use?
A: Yes, totally. As someone who has been a recreational drug user throughout their adult life, I’ve seen or heard what drug use can do to people. I’ve had conversations with customers of mine when I’ve seen them numerous times in a week to check that everything is ok. Or, I’ve actually limited what I’ve provided to friends if I’m aware of any plans they have the next day. I’m not out to cause harm to anyone and would never sell anything I think could create that situation.
R: What’s one stereotype about drug dealers in particular, and recreational drug users in general, that you’d want to dispel?
A: The general conception of drugs/drug takers being bad is wrong. My general experiences of drug-taking has always been that the positives outweigh the negatives; otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. I’d personally say that the use of drugs alone cannot cause harm. It’s the misuse (whilst rather obvious) that can cause harm. The information surrounding drugs and drug taking is now more widely available. People are able to test what they take and are more savvy when it comes to what substances will have what effect. If recreational drugs are to remain illegal, then education or self-help as opposed to punishment should be the plan going forward.