How to Freak Out a Street-Corner Crack Dealer in Toronto


Sometimes a day doesn’t go as planned and sometimes it goes 98% down the path you’d charted but then veers a little at the end. It was on one of those days that I discovered something unexpected about crack dealers.

First off, let’s start out with my equipment list:

  1. jeans
  2. dark hooded sweatshirt
  3. hiking boots or runners
  4. well-loved baseball cap (no dumb-ass, rapper-dork stupid metallic stickers or tags!)
  5. McDonald’s drink, with straw. Coke is best. You’ll need the caffeine shortly.
  6. a vocabulary of really good curse words (George’s Carlin’s 7 will do just fine)
  7. a slightly worn book bag/back pack hiding your valuables, including expensive camera and tripod and wallet

I was back home in Toronto (from Lake Louise in the Rockies) visiting family and decided that I needed to get and do some touristy things I hadn’t done in a decade or two and now had to do because I had my camera and wanted to snap the requisite pics. Days like this are always best shared so I called up Diane, a friend from Lake Louise who now happened to work in Toronto the Royal York Hotel.

We headed off on our mostly-on-foot adventure, starting from downtown and working our way to the CN Tower for starters. Up the tower, walk around, down the tower and off to the foot of Yonge Street to catch the ferry over to Centre Island.

We wandered the island, catching a walking tour of the residents of the artistic community which remains as hold-outs on the island in Toronto’s harbour in Lake Ontario. A very cool place a hop-skip-ferry-ride from Canada’s largest city.

On Toronto's Centre Isand with Wijfam Diane Wong
On Toronto's Centre Island with Wijfam Diane Wong

It was a very cool day. We covered lots of territory, saw the usual and the unusual and by the time our day was done we had wandered unmeasured miles and ended up at McDonald’s just before midnight near what was then Ryerson Polytechnic Institute, but is now Ryerson University. Diane lived a few blocks east of the school in a not-so-nice neighbourhood. When I offered to walk her home before hopping on the subway and heading back north to Mom’s place where I was staying, Diane jumped at the chance.

I hadn’t lived in Toronto since 1979 and had in fact been living in towns of less than 5,000  for a dozen years when I did this gentlemanly thing of walking Diane home. We got about two blocks before the streets got a bit darker, being away from the brightly lit strip of Yonge Street (the longest street in the world!). Another couple blocks later and we reached Diane’s rooming house where no guests were allowed after ten and there was security at the door behind what looked like bulletproof glass. Niiiiice place.

The denizens of the street had been watching us as we strolled there, some of them on our side of the street but the scariest owning corners on the other side. I may not have lived in the urban sprawl for years, but I grew up in The Big Smoke and knew when it was time for the wolves to feed on the skinny white kid who’d wandered off the beaten path. It was now that time. While I was with Diane they just watched, some openly and some surreptitiously, not wanting to give away their interest in the prey as it wandered through the killing fields of the Gerard-Parliament area.

My hackles were up, my need to flee was strong strong strong. Diane left me in the vestibule of her building with a hug and thank you for a fun day and she retired to the safety of the secure building. Me, I turned to face the denizen’s of the night, but not before morphing into a creature of the night.

The baseball hat went on a skewed angle, the hoodie came up and over the top. The glasses went into my hoody pouch and the McDonald’s drink went into the garbage. The straw, I kept. You’ll see why in a moment.

The person who entered the building was a dorky, nervous-walking accountant-looking white guy with a pretty Asian girl beside him. The freak who left the building a couple minutes later was hunched over, clutching a bag of some sort, with hat pulled down and to the side, hood pulled up over, and squinting angrily at the world (because he’d taken off his glasses!). I also suddenly developed a mean limp and a full-body twitch. Dr. Jeckyl had become Mr. Hyde.

As I walked down the sidewalk I stumbled (intentionally) every few yards and moved in short angry steps, while chewing frantically (nervously!) on the straw and cursing and barking up a blue streak. Yes, I said barking. And instead of cowering from the predators, I challenged them, staring back hard and sharp while muttering to myself: “Fucking guy! Fucking assholes! Bark bark bark! They’re all fucking assholes. C*nts! Bastards. Fuckers! Fucking kill her! Fucking kill them all! Cocksuckers! Bark bark! C*nts! Fuckers! Fuck! Fuck! Fuckers! Shit Fuck Bastards!”

Yes, I developed a sudden case of Tourette Syndrome, and I kept it up for the whole way back to Yonge Street — a five minute gauntlet of fear, trying not to piss myself (though that would have helped the fear factor I was emanating.

So what happened? Well, the dealers and the whores and the other predators MOVED BACK and looked away. They kept watch of me out of the corner of their eye, but not because they were wondering when they could take me down, but rather now because they were wondering when I was going to snap and come after them. You see, the one thing crack dealers are afraid of is people high on their own product. They know damned well a crack addict is unpredicatable and armed and without fear.

In order to get out of there alive, I didn’t become the toughest guy on the street, I became the scariest little motherfucker they’d seen all night. I was an unknown elemental stalking their streets. A high, crazed, schizophrenic psycho who had nothing they needed and who might just leave them alone if they stay the fuck out of his way.

I don’t recommend testing this technique out. It only works if you’re a solo act, and some crack dealers I’ve seen would just as soon shoot the psycho down and strip him of his shoes rather than be terrified. And if there had been more than a low-level dealer, a whore and an underling on any of the three corners of concern that night, they might very well have puffed out their chests and tried to earn street cred by calling my bluff. It’s a good thing I can run faster scared than they can mad, but it’s a better thing that I didn’t have to try.

And, so, that’s How to Freak Out a Street-Corner Crack Dealer on the Mean Streets of Toronto.

That’s it, that’s all. Play safe, avoid bad neighbourhoods, and don’t be afraid to use George Carlin’s Seven Words You Can’t Say On Network Television if it means the difference between life and death.

Ciao for now.


NEXT WEEK: I have no idea. I’ll have to consult the survey to see which story was voted up next. Maybe How not to drown while impressing girls with an underwater locked chains escape at a school pool party. Best attempted by non-swimmers, just for the added risk factor.


2 thoughts on “How to Freak Out a Street-Corner Crack Dealer in Toronto

Add yours

  1. Ah….you just painted Toronto as a big bad scary city – all for a good story, eh?

    You could have just walked back to Yonge Street. You know, like a normal guy (accountant or otherwise). The dealers already (most likely) knew on your way ‘in’ that you weren’t a customer, so probably did the hookers…..

    As a woman, I have walked all over Toronto (not GTA), at night, alone. Some ‘hoods your guard is up and most of the time you are just wary.

    But good times, eh? You put your theory to the test and it worked!!


  2. (**wipin back tears**) BWAHAHAHA!! I almost pizzzt out my keyboard spewin coffee everywherer laffin!

    That was awesome, and boy did you think fast. And it worked! You go boy!

    great post!

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