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Slinging Sunglasses in Inglewood

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When i was still a teenager, i got hooked up selling sunglasses on a street corner in Inglewood. It seems like a random job, and it was, but man that shit paid like whoa, paid in cash, and plus i never had to worry about new shades. The sunglass stand was on La Cienega and Arbor Vitae, and it was ran by this weird Italian guy who lived in various motels around town, chain smoked joints, and never came by the stand.

I got the job after quitting my first 9-5 job doing data entry. Quitting because i was statistically the highest-producing/most-underpaid employee; taking the new job because my buddy already worked there, he said it was smooth jams, and easy money. I was put on the schedule immediately, with my buddy as my trainer.

The sunglasses gig was awesome. We were merchants of cool, and our stand was rigged with cons all over the place. First off there was huge signs that read "$3.99" to bait people in, when really the $3.99 rack was small, and had nothing but crap to choose from. Second, we were instructed to say, "Welcome! Today is buy one get one free day!" But the gimmick was that everyday was buy one get one free day. We just doubled the price of everything, so they were really buying two. There were other more subtle cons, but in sunny Los Angeles, sunglasses practically sell themselves.

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Because we were strategically located near LAX, near the 405, in Sears Liquor parking lot, we had a lot of traffic at the stand. Everything from people who bought sunglasses because their $300 Gucci's were forgotten at home, and they just "needed a pair to get home with", to the regular repeat customers who came by at least once a week to restock on aviators and big Yenta shades, to the random pimp looking at Cazals in our designer glass case.

My friend Peter stole from the stand like crazy and would sell his stash at the bar later that night for booze money. We all smoked weed in the stand when nobody was looking. I would take naps for hours in my truck parked near the Stand while Dave pounded a Budweiser tall-boy guarding the merchandise. Once in a while we had to chase down a random thief and kick their ass. Never a dull moment.

Everyday come sundown, the boss's wife would peel into the parking lot with the van, and we'd carefully pull all the trays of glasses off the shelves, and stack them into the van. All the while the boss's haggard old wife made perverted jokes about boning us with her voice deeper than Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, making us sick to our stomachs. And of course, we'd all meet there the following morning before sunrise to put the stand back together, and get it all going again, with the boss's wife asking us if we knew what "prune-tang" was. We ignored her, and shuddered.

We worked 12-14 hour workdays, and it was good money in the summer. The winter was bitter, broke, and my friends and i were eventually fired around the holidays. I once stopped back by the old location to find that the owners had sold the business, and the new owners had upgraded to an actual building next Sears Liquor. No more nightly minivan round ups for them.

Photo by beigeinside via Flickr

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