by John Cheese
Where I grew up, everybody had a hustle. They had to, because it was a community that lost a ton of employment, virtually overnight, when its main source of income suddenly closed its doors and skipped town. It left a lot of people with the choice of either moving away or making the best of what they had. Most chose the latter, because as it turns out, moving isn't exactly cheap.
Over the years, I've seen enough hustling and scams to fill a set of encyclopedias (remember encyclopedias?), and not all of them were exactly considered an "honest day's work."
For instance, back then, small town grocery stores didn't have scanners that automatically rang up the prices. They put little printed-out price tag stickers on the products, and the cashier had to manually input each one into their analogue cash register. My dad figured out that if he carefully peeled off the price tag from a cheap item, he could stick it onto a more expensive one, and the person behind the counter would just assume they were having a sale. He cut his grocery bill in half by doing that and never got caught.
"Four bucks? Well, if the price tag says so ..."
Another family knew that the local insurance company and fire department had terrible arson investigators. So if they started to get worried about cash, they'd pick the crappiest property they owned (or buy one for dirt cheap) and burn that sucker to the ground. It happened so regularly that the town had running jokes every time we heard firetruck sirens. "Another fire. ______ must need a paycheck." Though I guess that's not really a joke if it's the straight-up truth.
Still, others were legit hustles. I knew a guy who ran a pretty successful lawn service without owning a single piece of equipment. He just picked out the nicest looking house and offered to mow their lawn for free if they let him borrow their mower and trimmer for the rest of the day. Then used that equipment to polish off the rest of the "rich people" block. If he ran out of gas, one of his customers likely had some. And if they didn't, he just offered to mow the curbside grass at a local filling station in exchange for a gallon or two.
That doesn't seem like a "hustle" in the traditional sense, but for 4-5 months out of the year, he made more doing that than he did at his regular job.
Also, the lawn mower granted wishes. So there's that.
At some point in that town, the scales tipped, and the amount of people doing illegal hustles far outweighed the ones who were trying to make a legitimate, honest living. I still have family and friends who live in that area, and I have an extremely hard time going back to visit them ... because the second I arrive, they catch me up with all of the local news and gossip.
"Your cousin is back in prison again. They pulled him over for speeding and found a mobile meth lab in his trunk. They ended up busting three of his friends, too. Also, remember 'Phat Eddie' from high school? He OD'd on stolen oxy."
This is actually one of the hidden reasons I started working for The Modern Rogue: there's a huge difference between a "rogue" and a "scumbag," and I want people to know what that very defined line is. "Hustle" can mean either "scam" or "business," and I think that distinction is important. It's all about the intentions.
"No, seriously, just find the queen. Easy game, easy money."
When Brian and Jason teach us how to make keys with a phone camera and 3D printer or how a DDoS attack works, I'm 90% sure they don't mean, "You guys up for a game of Dodge-Cop?" -- they want you to understand it. Then again, I could be wrong. It's a well known fact that Brian is wanted in three states for "aggressive public nudity," and Jason once traveled as Suge Knight's bodyguard.
Regardless, the more educated you are on stuff like this, the better you can protect yourself from it. Hell, even on the most basic level, just knowing that information gives you an awesome conversation topic the next time you're in a social gathering.
Now, I'm not trying to pitch you the idea of The Modern Rogue. You're already here. You already ordered that steak, and I'm not going to try to re-sell it to you. What I'm saying is that what you do with that information is vital. You could use it to become the most interesting person in the room (how we define the term "modern rogue"), or you could use it to be a future inmate (how we define the word "scumbag").
"All according to plan, baby."
I know you're not stupid, but there's a reason I'm harping on people to understand the difference: As this site grows and expands, our ultimate goal is to offer you, the reader, a chance to tell your own stories and teach the world about your own hustles. And when you do that, we're going to pay you for it. Ironically, The Modern Rogue could actually become your regular hustle.
In the process, you'll be doing for a brand new audience what Brian and Jason have done for millions of people over the last decade: making them more interesting people. You'll be educating them. You'll be creating brand new Modern Rogues.
I think that's pretty cool. The world has had its fill of scumbags ... we need more rogues.