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"They don't want you to take the money when they can charge you interest," Smith reasoned.
Bank employees rarely questioned him, he says. Instead, they would fire up a cashier's check, walk him to the window, put the money in a bag, and ask if he wanted an escort to his car. He would then be set for a while. But he burned through the money.
"I didn't do that every day, but I did it a bunch of times," he says. "I did it a lot."
Smith smokes Marlboro Lights as he drives through streets where tennis shoes hang from power lines — a sign that drugs are sold at a nearby house — close to a YMCA and a block from a school near Linwood and 31st Street.
He drives past trash-covered yards and, near Cleveland, a house painted all black with windows covered and doors padlocked. Some of the people who live in this area are older. They've worked their whole life to be able to retire in their homes.
"Fuck, they probably don't feel safe coming out," Smith says. "It's like they're held hostage in their own houses."
He says the houses have been this way for a couple of years. "They're going to be like this until they fall down ... or until some crackhead gets in there and catches 'em on fire."
Smith gets grumpy, thinking about the money pumped into the Power & Light District.
"They should have worked with what they had there and tried to revitalize some of those buildings instead of gutting the fucking history out of the city."
He gets grumpier thinking about the apartment complex behind the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Smith served in the Coast Guard, so he goes to the VA. His enlistment had nothing to do with patriotic duty; "I went in to stay out of jail," he says.
He says homeless veterans on the streets might have had a chance if the government had kept the apartment complex open instead of abandoning it five or six years ago.
The complex covers an entire block and abuts the gates of the VA hospital. Boards sway in the wind from windowless frames. The front door to one of the buildings is wide open.
"They just fucking let it go," Smith says. "I'll kiss your ass if you can find a copper pipe in there anywhere. I'll guarantee you there's people living in there."
Smith drives past churches with Plexiglas covering the stained-glass windows. He sees a grocery store named Happy Foods.
"Fucking Happy Foods. There's nothing happy about the food in there."
On another drive a few days later, he flips on his hazard lights and rolls down the window to take a picture of a dozen creepy Christmas-caroler dolls set up on a sidewalk. One of the dolls is dressed up in a Chiefs sweater and hat. A neighbor woman sees him. "Hi, just taking a couple of pictures if that's all right," he says. "Give you some free advertisement."