If you walk the streets long enough you realize people throw out anything. Barry knew this. Barry was what they refer to as a seasoned veteran of the streets. Not something you buy, but real street credit.
It started back in the late eighties when he stumbled upon his first IBM PC Jr. It was judged outdated and obsolete, taken to the streets to be thrown away. Printers, phones, video equipment, it piles up fast. Within a couple years, before he knew it, Barry had half a block of equipment, mostly working, the rest used for parts.
When wireless technology started Barry saw an idea. He was able to hook up the computers (stealing wireless internet access from local businesses), and charge a dollar for use. Everything from the news to prison pornography. There were no rules.
If you Google Things to do with a hammer you receive 3,020,000 hits.
If you Google Naked Amish you receive 1,836,000 hits.
Commuters on their way to work. Area deli and coffee shops. Tourists. They all stopped to use Barry’s street side internet access. Nothing planned, it just happened. Barry was a natural with computers and now able to supply a service.
If you Google Business Plans you receive 148,000,000 hits.
Barry wakes, runs his business, and though not very profitable he is able to eat and no one bothers him on the street. The only life he knows, completely independent, no authority figure, and no commute.
It’s when Abdul approaches that things begin changing.
Abdul owns a deli and wants to give his customers internet access. Business has been down and the competition will shut him down if he doesn’t act fact.
If you Google New York Deli’s you receive 1,900,000 hits.
Barry agrees to help Abdul for food and the customers enjoy the new amenity Abdul has given them. In fact, after a month passes the two computers are not enough to sustain the need of his crowds.
Abdul propositions Barry. Convert the deli into an Internet Café. Partners. The next two nights Barry doesn’t sleep, just sits in the park, contemplating Abdul’s offer. Change is not always good.
They go to work, taking out loans for renovations, installing the new computer system. Advertising. Barry rents an apartment, due to lack of credit, the new equipment (and old equipment) is used as collateral.
The grand opening is successful. Lots of positive feedback and the patrons are enjoying themselves, not too mention the food sales were as high as ever despite only half the room dedicated to eating. Abdul and Barry expand. More loans, more collateral, more stress.
If you Google MBA Programs you receive 13,600,000 hits.
Once the new systems are implemented they see a sharp decline. Businesses around them are closing. Tourism is down. Supply vs. Demand.
Now taxes are due, the owner of the building is calling, Barry’s rent is due.
If you Google Debt Collectors you receive 836,000 hits.
Tax Collectors. Repo-men. Collection Agencies.
Borrow more. Bargain with creditors. Buy time. Lie. Do anything necessary to extend payment for a month, a week, even a day.
What can take months or years financially to create can take less than a month to bring down. It’s the flipside of the American dream they don’t tell you about.
Barry is back on the streets, now with nothing. The equipment is gone, the repo-men took it all, including the IBM PC jr.
If you Google Entrepreneur you receive 19,300,000 hits.
Sleeping on the street, near the man-hole covers for warmth, Barry wakes up and looks across the street. There sitting is an iPad, last years model. Barry looks both ways as he crosses the street and clutches the tables under his arm.
David S. Grant is the author of BLOOD: The New Red. To download via Amazon Kindle click here. Follow David on Twitter: @david_s_grant