By Odilia Rivera-Santos
They are everywhere -- those people who will expend tremendous amounts of energy to get something from you. They tell multi-layered stories, which are supposed to lull you into belief because you imagine no one would be so ridiculous as to make up such a long boring story chock-full of details, but you're wrong.
The fact is hustlers exist, and they lie even when it would be just as easy to tell the truth. Most hustlers can only thrive on the surface because their focus is limited, so once you begin to ask more questions, their stories dissolve because the intellectual depth just isn't there. The hustler who combines street smarts and intellectual prowess is a rare bird -- these are the ones who appear to have received a PhD in their subject area, the 'art experts' who outsmart art experts. The regular hustlers regurgitate information they've siphoned from books, websites and conversations, knowing something sounds good without understanding the content. This is the hustler who flits from one group to another at a party dropping gems and leaving before he/she runs into someone who will challenge him or her in any way.
Hustling is a kind of addiction -- I've watched hustlers go from selling drugs on the street to selling products in a store with the same tenacity and amorality driving a need to conquer and get money in his or her hand.
The hustler lifestyle has its own infrastructure and hang-out spots.
I think of the narcotics hunters community with whom I dealt while working in a hospital. Sometimes, the word community is used not to describe people who help each other become better or more ethical but to describe a group of people with one common goal: to provide a cover story for each other or to provide another sucker lead.
The narcotics hunter community had their own underground railroad to help them find the newly-minted doctor who was careless about drug prescriptions or an experienced one who was playing along.
Imagine the guy whose 'boys' back up his lies to hide infidelities from a girlfriend or wife or the woman who does the same with her 'girls.'
The hustler talks so eloquent and sweet, but never follows through on promises -- they are made in the spur of the moment to zoom in for the kill, seal the deal, etc.
It is the hustler mentality at work; this mentality allows for an amoral stance and that means in the middle of a con, the confidence trickster enters another world in which only he/she and his/her defenders exist; repercussions are forgotten, as if one's actions did not always have tentacles reaching in and outward, possible negative outcomes not alluded to and the reward seen as a finite neat packaged pleasure to concern no one but the beneficiary.