A Thousand-dollar Cigarette
A journal entry from 2018. People say I’m naive, but I don’t see it.
One day in college, I was walking to a campus library from home in west Berkeley. While crossing a parking lot I spotted a man in a suit driving a black Escalade. He called out to me — I forgot what he said but he had an Italian accent.
I got in the passenger seat and he gave me a business card. He was a sales manager for Giorgio Armani, and he had a proposition for me. The man had just finished showing some pieces from the new collection to wealthy buyers in the area, and now he had a bunch of samples he didn’t want to bring back to Italy.
“You look like you’d value some pieces like these,” he said.
I nodded, and mentioned I had just studied fashion in Paris. He reached toward some bags in the backseat and revealed five or so leather and wool jackets.
“Check out this new coating which protects the leather against everything, even fire,” he bragged smiling, gleefully lighting a lighter under the coat.
I was impressed, and asked if he was giving me these for free. “Ah no, these are priceless. I do not have use for them in Italy, but I would like some money in exchange for giving them to a student here.”
That seemed fair to me, so he drove me to the nearby Bank of America. Before I got out, he said: “Please, leave your phone. That way I know you will come back.” I was a bit wary that he would just leave with my phone, but handed it to him.
He wanted a grand for ten jackets. This was too much for an ATM to dispense, so I had to go into the branch and ask the teller. A few minutes later I got back into the car and handed him the cash. He gave me four big bags and his business card. I asked him for a cigarette, and he gave me one along with a lighter.
The moment the black Cadillac drove off toward west Berkeley, I thought: “Fuck.” I called the number on his business card and got directed to some random call center.
And that’s how I learned that $1000 cigarettes taste the same as cheap ones, and that mind-controlling is real and can be found in Italy. I ended up throwing all the jackets away.. I’m not sure why.