Side Hustle

Christin told me about the “Swifter.” Apparently, she swears by it. So much so that she has two. I decided to bite the bullet, fork over the eleven bucks and buy one from Walmart.

I am standing there, looking at all five thousand knockoffs that they have of the Swifter. What the hell? This is turning in to quite the task. And the refills? Wet, dry, wet and dry, it is just too much for me to comprehend this early on a Saturday.

“Excuse me.”

A grumpy muffled voice man was standing behind me. I turn around, see that I am in his way, and move. The grumpy man walks right to the original Swifter, picks it up along with one refill packet. Okay, problem solved! I throw the same contents in my cart assuming that the grumpy man and Christin know what they are talking about.

Once home, I break out my Swifter and the instruction pack. I mean it looks that a five-year-old can operate it, but you know me, I just have too many questions. “How do you know when to use the wet and dry?” “Are they interchangeable?” That sort of thing. I am reading the instructions and none of my questions are answered.

My phone alerts me that I have a text message. A text message from Vinnie. Vinnie is in the other room so I do not quite understand why the need to text.

“Mom, can we pick up some sweets before work? I have money.”

I ignore his text because, Swifter, and all.

Shortly thereafter, I decided that the Swifter can wait until tomorrow. I go to Vinnie’s room. “Vinnie, what kind of sweets do you want? I have a whole bag of chocolate.”

Vinnie looks at me, shaking his head.

“Not that kind of sweets mom, do I have to explain everything to you?”

It took me a minute.

Okay, it took me a few minutes.

“Oh geez, you mean those Swisher Sweet cigar things?”

“Yes. Plus, we all know where you hide your chocolate.”

He is grabbing his work attire, which tells me it is time to go, and, we are stopping at the gas station.

We are now in the car.

“Vinnie, before I take you anywhere, you need to tell me what you are up to. I know you do not smoke, so why do you need the Swisher cigar things?”

I find a song on the radio while waiting for his reply.

In his goofy, a little too confident voice, he says:

“Do not worry about it, it’s my side hustle, I know what I am doing. I am business smart.”

“Your side hustle? What kind of side hustle? You better not be doing anything stupid!”

We pull out of the complex. Vinnie informs me we are going to the “Asian Corner Store” and not my little familiar gas station.

“So what you want to do, is at the light take a left, then get all the way in your right-hand lane, then two blocks up you take a quick right.”

We end up in one of the seediest places in my town, which just so happens to be right up the road from where I live.

“Just park in front of the store.”

I have no idea what is happening now.

“Vinnie, there is no front of the store, there is a sidewalk and Pac Hwy. This does not look like a good neighborhood.”

“Yeah, there, park there.”

He points to the sidewalk.

I “park” the car, look around, making sure there are not any questionable looking happenings going on in what to me looks like a perfect place to do a drug deal.

“Okay, let’s go!”

“I am going to wait here, you go, it will be fine!”


“Mom, you worry too much.”

He gets out of the car with me. I lock the doors and have 911 ready to go on speed dial. I am not exaggerating. When I find myself in questionable situations, which seems to happen a lot, I always have 911 ready to go. #LifeHack

We enter the tiny little Asian corner store, and I only say Asian because, well, it is. The corner store is in a strip mall surrounded by other questionable looking Asian places. I know this because I cannot read any of the signs, although I did see a “massage” place and some window had a picture of chicken teriyaki on it.

Vinnie and I enter the store. It’s cute and big, and they had all sorts of coffee there, cheaper than my gas station. Vinnie goes straight to the counter, I grab a diet coke.

“Vino, how you doing? The usual?”

A cute little old lady who had to be pushing 80 comes to the counter. Vinnie greets her in the same way that one would greet a friend they see every few days or so.

“Yes please, and these.”

He places two bottles of water on the counter. The cute little old lady grabs three packs of the Swisher cigar things.

“Two dollars.”

I still cannot believe these prices.

The cute lady looks at me, then back at Vinnie as she is ringing up my diet coke.

“Who this?”

I lay a dollar bill on the counter while waiting for “Vino” to do some sort of introductions.

“This is my mom, she is dropping me off at work.”

The cute old lady looks at me, smiles, and takes my dollar without putting it through the register.

“Ah, Vino’s mother. I not know you had mother.”

I grab my diet coke while giving “Vino” a “WHAT THE HELL” look! She did not know he had a mom? What is happening here? And why does it seems like I spent a good part of my afternoon asking myself that question?

Vinnie laughs, I politely and awkwardly smile and say good-bye.

As we leave, two questionable looking guys are waiting outside. They are dirty, looks like they have not showered in some time, and they each have large backpacks. They are not directly near our car, but close enough to make me put 911 back on speed dial.

“Vinnie, do not make eye contact and just get in the car.”

“It’s cool mom, I got this.”

Yeah, famous last words.

Instead of getting in the car like I told him to, he goes over to them.

“Vino, what up?”

Vinnie grabs the two bottles of water, and hands one to each guy while putting the Swisher cigar things in his backpack. I have never been more confused.

The two guys look at me, and kind of give me a nod of the head. I wave back as I quickly get into the car. Vinnie tells them “Catch you later!” I drive off with confusion and, more confusion.

“Mom, before you say a word, they are homeless. They live in the back of our apartment complex, they cool, just going through a hard time.”


“They never ask for anything, so if I have water or something then I give it to them.”


“The cops are trying to get them to move their camp.”

“They have a camp?!?!?!”

Vinnie takes a swig out of my diet coke.

“You should really learn about the town where you live.”

“Why did the Asian lady not know you had a mom?!?!”

“I am not about telling my business to others. Vino is a private person.”

I have no idea how I feel about any of this. I mean up until like ten minutes ago, I never set foot in that Asian strip mall, and now it seems like Vinnie is more in the know than I am. Also, the fact that he refers to himself in the third person is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

“Okay Vinnie, one more question. What are the Swisher cigars for? You do not smoke, you are on some weird health kick, what is going on?”

He looks at me. He looks at me in a way that tells me he is asking himself if he should really tell me or not.

“I flip them.”
“I do not even know what that means.”
“I sell them, and make a dollar back.”
“They are three for a dollar at the corner store.”
“I turn around and sell them for two dollars.”
“But why?”
“My homies cannot find them for that cheap.”
“I do not even know what to say.”
“That’s cool you do not have to say anything.”
“I mean doesn’t every single corner store sell these?”
“Yeah, my place is the cheapest.”
“Okay, so how come your “homies” do not buy them there?”
“Because they live on the other side of town.”

I am kinda worried that all of this makes some sort of sense to me. I mean I have to really look, but I can see the logic.

“So, let me get this straight, you sell the cigar things to people and make a dollar profit?”
“And your “homies” are too stupid, I mean busy to catch on to what you are doing?”
“Nah, they know I make a profit, that’s why they buy from me.”
“And this is where you lost me.”
“Mom, pay attention, most of my homies do not have a car, the corner store they go to will charge twice as much, my Asian store is the cheapest around but too far for them to come to. So even though I make a one dollar profit, it is still cheaper for them to buy it from me than it is their own store.”

Okay, I mean I get it, but I just had one, maybe two more questions.

“But why the cigar things? I mean if things are cheaper at the Asian store couldn’t you do candy, or coffee or something? Ya know, kinda like a Costco?”

“Now you’re asking too many questions. Let’s just say there is a need for the Sweets. No one wants a Snickers.”

“Hello, did we just meet?”

“I mean no one other than you.”

“Okay, but you cannot make that much of a profit, what like 10 bucks or something?”

“About twenty a week.”

“What do you do with the profit? Why do you need an extra twenty a week?”

I can tell he is getting annoyed. I am pushing my limits with him.

“Because Mom, I do not get tips every night. This puts cash in my pocket.”

“And what it the cash for? I mean usually, you do extra chores if you want some cash?”

I pull in to his work parking lot. He grabs his belongings and looks at me.

“The homeless mom, a few bottles of water goes a long way.”

And with that, he leaves the car and heads into work.

I am more confused than ever. I mean is he doing a good thing or should I be concerned?

I come home, call Christin, and give her the entire rundown I just gave you guys.

She listens intently, and at the very end when I ask her “So what do you think, is this legit or what?”

“Well, I mean my kids sell slime and make a profit, so I say whatever works!”

I took this in. Slime. Very popular with the kids nowadays. Glue, detergent, and some sort of food coloring. Apparently, kids will pay “big bucks” for the perfect slime consistency.


“Hello, Jen, you there, what are you thinking?”

“Hmmm. I am thinking Vinnie’s little side hustle is going to expand to Slime.”





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