Pubdate: Sun, 13 Mar 2005
Source: Johnson City Press (TN)
Copyright: 2005 Johnson City Press
Author: Dee Goodin
Bookmark: (Paraphernalia)


Chore Boys, A Brand Of Copper Scouring Pads, Can Be Hot Sellers To Crack

In the '80s - a time of success and excess - wearing lots of gold, designer 
clothing and snorting cocaine were signs of "conspicuous consumption," 
blatantly showing other folks how much money one had, or at least the limit 
on their credit cards.

At that time, McDonald's restaurants reportedly pulled its coffee stirrers, 
tiny, plastic spoons, because they could be used to snort coke.

Well, there is nothing new under the sun. These days, the drug of choice, 
at least for a certain percentage of the population, is crack cocaine, 
powder cocaine that has been processed into a hard rock that can be placed 
in a pipe and smoked. And you don't have to look hard to find the tools of 
the trade in seemingly innocent places.

Take convenience stores for example. Right next to the cigarette lighters 
and breath mints, there's probably a display of tiny glass tubes, open on 
one end, a piece of cork in the other. A tiny rose is housed inside.

What most folks don't realize is those are crack pipes. Also readily 
available are copper scouring pads, known as Chore Boys, which are used for 
more than scrubbing a dirty skillet.

In Washington County Criminal Court earlier this week, First Judicial 
District Drug Task Force Agent Greg Workman explained to a jury how a user 
will place a tiny piece of a Chore Boy in the tube to prevent sucking a 
lighted crack rock down his or her throat.

A local convenience store owner, who wished to be unidentified, said his 
store has a lot of college students who come in to buy items for smoking 
marijuana. "We go through a lot of blunt wraps and cigars and stuff with 
the college kids smoking pot," he said. "There ain't nothing ever gonna be 
done to stop that. I don't really see a problem with smoking a little pot, 
but smoking crack? That's going a little too far."

He said most of his customers who buy the glass tubes and Chore Boys are in 
their upper 20s and older. "You just don't see college kids that much - not 
smoking crack."

Occasionally he will see a younger person come in to buy the pipes. "But 
they typically don't look like a college student, most often they look like 
a rough neck." And then there's the other end of the spectrum - "one guy 
who comes in and is getting those tubes for pipes looks like he's 70 years 

He said he has noticed the items sell a "little more on the first few days 
of the month" when people receive government checks. "But it's pretty 
common throughout the month."

And for some reason, many of those buying crack items feel compelled to 
tell his clerks why they buy them, although not the real reason they buy them.

"We hear the wildest reasons ... everything you can imagine. One woman 
tells us her daughter uses the glass tube to blow 'spit wads' at other 
folks during church. She also says her daughter uses those little ol' fake 
plastic flowers to make wreaths."

He spoke of one local store that was selling "brown bags," a brown paper 
bag containing a Chore Boy, one of those artificial flowers and a lighter. 
"Now there's no doubt what was being done with that," he said. The store 
was "busted" for selling drug paraphernalia and the owner was told "he 
would not be allowed to sell those in Johnson City any more," the merchant 

Asked if he had any qualms about selling those items, he said, "The way I 
look at that situation, you don't know for sure what they're using it for, 
you have a good idea, but you don't know. But if they are going to buy 
these things, I might as well be the one making the money.

"And I'm sure not everybody who comes into buy a Chore Boy is going to go 
out and use it to smoke crack."
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