Growing up, I heard that question a lot. There were those that hustled to make ends meet; those that hustled to get by in life; and, then there were those that hustled as a sport. They were the ones that chased their dreams with ferociousness like no other. They weren’t just hungry for it, they were starving. Now by hustling, I’m not referring to swindling or fraudulent activities. I am referring to the vigor that one has in order to make something happen; therefore, a hustler is one that is like a rooster with his tail always stuck up in the air; always busy; always on the move in pursuit of their goal.
“If you are determined to succeed, you will do whatever it takes”
When I was 18, I had an opportunity that sparked something within me. To be honest, I wouldn’t come to understand its depth, richness and rarity until much later in life. At the age of 18, well, I was all about shooting for the stars, the world being my oyster, and all of those other wonderful clichés. Interning at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office back in the 90s gave me an insight I couldn’t then appreciate. While lawyers prepared for trial, I’d get a chance to reorganize older files, and even encouraged to take a peek at some of the older cases they’d brought to justice. Reading the tidbits, my heart would swell. The pitter patter was more in tune with an out of tune guitar, but my mouth salivated for that life and the idea of justice -- and being a part of the hands of justice, well, I thought I could help. I thought I could help to make the world a better place.
But justice isn’t black and white, and its scales aren't always balanced.
Life threw me a curve ball, and after graduation I headed off to college, and studied theology. It would be almost ten years before I could get my feet wet with law again – but in the interim, I’d honed my analytical skills. I’d brushed up on all things requiring research, and knew something I didn’t know how to do then – look at the devil in the details.
Life had a lesson for me that I didn’t quite know I needed. Law is hunting – and sometimes you don’t know who the hunter is and who is the prey.
After graduating from grad school, I then received another chance to dive into the legal field, and its lessons. I can still recall when a case we’d been poring over for months went to trial, and while I sat there on that hard court room bench for hours, I waited for justice to prevail. I took notes detailed notes until my hands cramped, scribbling down every tidbit that was said.
Silently, I hoped that the dice wouldn’t be snake eyes, and maybe even a prosecution’s witness would slip up – perjure themselves. At one point, I was even hoping for a Matlock moment (I’m still waiting for a witness’s confession while on the stand by the way). I rooted for my side to win. You see, I’d drunken the concoction, the poison of a client who couldn’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie, even if the truth were swaddled like a newborn baby and rested in their arms. I’d been hustled into believing the lie. Maneuvered. Hoodwinked. Manipulated.
Looking back, I can see the movements now, and recognize the truth for what it is: my naiveté in hoping to believe in innocence despite the absolute evidence of the case. The facts were the facts, and in seeing the person and not the crime, I’d been easily played to be a legal fool.
After the jury rendered the guilty verdict, and the prosecutor celebrated – the only thing missing in my imagination was a cloud of confetti – I wondered what happened. How did I get so caught up in the case? How did I not notice the guilt despite the talk of innocence (and trust me the signs were truly there).
After reflecting on it all, my aha-moment came. I’d been rooting for the alleged villain to win, to triumphant and walk away. I’d been seeing the story, the evidence and everything from the incorrect point of view…and that is when I came to understand the point of the antagonist in any story.
Alfred Hitchcock said it best: “The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.”
In life, you don’t always know who the antagonist of the story will be, and I’m learning that the greatest thing about fiction is making it so rich, that even the Big Bad believes that the story is his.
Standing on the shoulder of giants.
Nowadays, I’m on the hustler’s diet, meaning, I eat, breath and am running this marathon in pursuit of my happy ever after. Although no longer in the courtroom, I carry those memories in my tool chest. Everything I’ve done thus far has gotten me to today – the good, bad, and ugly. Years in the courtroom and behind the scenes have taught me a thing or two. Mostly, it taught me that there are many shades of gray and if you want to survive, well, you only eat what you kill.
TINA GLASNECK is the author of the SPARK BEFORE DYING SERIES and loves to combine the tools in her tool chest to create interesting stories filled with mayhem, mystery, murder and more. She is currently working on the third book in the series set for a 2016 release. Learn more about Tina at her website: www.TinaGlasneck.com