Advice and Observations from two decades as a loan shark in Mexico
1. No matter who you are or claim to be, everybody is indebted to something or someone. We can only get ahead in life due to someone’s random kindness or thinly-veiled interest in benefitting off you in the long run. But it’s always worse if it involves money.
2. There’s always somebody out there ready and willing to break your legs.
3. Always hang out with people that are useful but ultimately stupider than you.
4. ‘Stupider’ does not mean less educated. I’ve seen doctors and MFAs kneeling to not get their eyes gouged.
5. Whatever you do, don’t start a family, no matter how well the business is going.
6. Watching so many people cry around you will destroy you at first, but hang in there. You’ll be laughing about it after a year.
7. Being a mean motherfucker doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be honorable at the job. Remember: People come to you because you will always be better than the banks.
8. Only use one-third of the money you earn. You don’t get people’s trust nor make any friends by being ostentatious.
9. Always be sexually involved with two women at the time. Just make sure you’re seen publicly with the one you care less about.
10. Always carry at least 500 pesos in loose change and small bills; the coins you can give to hungry kids playing on the streets or old men who’re in need, the bills are for the neighborhood cop.
11. It’s ok if you have no formal education, just do your homework and get informed in Economics and Finance as much as possible. And make sure that everything you learn you make it easy to explain to clients.
12. If abuelas are comfortable around you and think you’re a nice guy, then you’re good at this shit.
13. Don’t be aggressive, and please don’t bully people gratuitously. But be uniquely brutal when you have to. Real predators are only noticed when the prey feel the bite.
14. Always offer Women lower interest rates. But don’t ever forgive them a debt.
15. Make sure to get good at something other than money-lending. Or at least do cool stuff at parties. I for one play guitar, can do some sweet Salsa moves, and eat pussy like a motherfucker.
16. Don’t get paid with anything other than cold hard cash. You can’t get good camotes at the mercadito or good head at the cantina on a credit card.
17. Don’t drink, smoke, or do any drugs, but always hang out with people who do.
18. Getting a side business is ok unless that business is pimping.
19. Make sure your phone contact list is full of people who have more money than you. And if you ever meet a real wealthy guy, try to be useful to them.
20. Your best buddies should all have guns and be good at them.
21. This job will get you some places where people may need your honest help. Never deny that help, but always charge for it in cash.
22. And if you need something, don’t be afraid of asking for help either. But pay handsomely. Be remembered for being generous.
23. In case it’s not super clear and logical: Put every deal on paper. Make them sign. Get your evidence.
24. Make it as easy and simple as possible for people to pay you. Offer reasonable payment plans, be flexible with the amounts, and when you come collect, be kind to their families.
25. If a guy who owes you has daughters, a young sister or a hot wife, remember they have nothing to do with the debt. But if he is late on his payments, they are the guarantee.
26. Look, most people are actually quite decent and only need some assistance to get by. There are only a handful of mean bastards who deserve no pity. And they should be on your side.
27. Don’t go as low as to rob people’s houses if they won’t pay. There are better ways to punish defaulters.
28. Privileges are not money, access is not money, sexual favors are not money, drugs are not money. Don’t let anybody give you any of that shit and think they’re somehow off the hook.
29. Competition is bullshit, and it won’t affect you. Look, there may be a ton of loaners out there, but this is Mexico. You will never run out of desperate people whose life is miserable living here.
30. That being said, your only rivals, your true enemies, are the banks, and the Tax Administrative Service. And you will never beat those fuckers. That’s why you’re here in the first place, that’s why your customers are here, and why you will never retire.
— Leonel is an anarchist writer, translator and curator from Veracruz, Mexico. They write extensively about African music, and occasionally DJ on legendary radio station Dublab.