Don’t Look Left or Right Don’t look left or right, that was the final instruction before we motorbike down this street in Medellin. Seems impossible, but if I understand the explanation correctly, the cocaine trade continues as long as it does so non-violently. This is the unofficial structure of the relative armistice of recent years. So making eye contact with nobody, we creep and crawl, stuck in traffic down the street. In fact, all business is conducted in the field of peripheral vision. Fingers fish folded bills from pockets and swap them for pale bricks in layers of plastic wrap, or brown paper bags. The eyes of all are always outward at the street. Words are few, and clearly eye contact would be a breach of conduct, bad form. Shocking, even. Two neighborhood kids have been paid to sit as sentries at either end of the road, and blow a back pocket airhorn or ring a bell if police officers appear. Forearms flick out of car windows and passenger-side windows ahead of us. Fingertips hold two-inch thick stacks of bills in bands. Dealers who don’t so much as look in the window stare down the street and toss packets and baggies through open windows. All is engine hum, rustle and murmur. No music. A notable absence. Those selling wear brand new clothes, without a single crease, stain or fold. Starch stiff hoodies, tank tops, jeans, and factory-line clean sneakers. Getting down this street is as slow as driving in a flash flood, in a zero visibility snow storm, in deep mud, all because of the intensity of activity in the edges of our vision. Dealers shuffling between roads of cars, double patting the side of a door when a transaction is complete. No visible haggling, simply the small circus of fingers finding back pockets in jeans and the breast pockets of jackets, all executed without error under the pervasive and unsettling inaccuracy of gaze. Activities unexamined first and foremost by the participants involved. Then we’re past the zone, clarity returns, and the drive continues. Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.