The broker said that he should sell the wine/ they got this guy that can arrange a buy.

Craig Finn

There are different types of marketplaces in the world. First there are legitimate, above-board markets, the shops and such you go to everyday. Then there are black markets, the so-called underground economy. Poised somewhere in between the legitimate and the underground, however, lies another type of market. This is a liminal sort of market, a market for which we need an experienced navigator. This is the realm of “the guy for that.”

We know we are in the realm of this kind of guy whenever we hear someone say “I got a guy for that.” Need a passport in three days? There’s a guy for that. Want to build a greenhouse but don’t want to drop thousands at the home center? There’s a guy for that too. Need to dump some garbage from a construction job but the landfill rates are exorbitant? Go get a guy. Need a prescription but your country doesn’t allow generic pills to cross the border? Another guy. Need to offload your wine cellar to pay the alimony? Craig Finn can find you a guy.

Now the great thing about the guy for that is, although in some cases all the above may be different guys, there are some guys that do it all. This is the type of guy who can get you cut-rate auto parts one day, scalped tickets to the Garden the next, and a little something something for your loft party on the third. Life is divided into specialists and generalists, and here we have the generalist version of the guy for that. Mike Ehrmantraut from the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul TV series is a classic example of a generalist guy for that.

How does one become a generalist guy for that I wonder? What winding set of life ways leads someone to be able to source whatever you need at short notice? What even are the essential skills of such a guy? I don’t know, but I think the generalist form of the guy for that pops up fairly regularly in the army. Soldiers, whether confined to base or in the field, generally have tightly restricted access to the many pleasures that life can afford. An abundance of rules, meals ready to eat, and a dreary PX may be all they have to work with. That’s where the guy for that comes in. This is the guy who knows when a few ladies are coming through town, down to party. This guy has a line of a van full of meats, has those sweet French cigarettes from across the border. This guy is on top of it. Army fiction is full of these kinds of guys, scamps and scoundrels who are yet always portrayed quite sympathetically by the author. The reason for this is easy to see—if the author has actually been in the army (as a great many nineteenth and mid-twentieth century writers were) he (usually he here) would know and appreciate the many benefits of having a guy for that around, no matter what other undesirable qualities the guy might possess. After all, anyone who hooks you up with quality meats is easily forgiven.

And then there is the specialist guy for that. The specialist guy for that usually possesses a certain rare and highly developed technical skill of some kind. While the generalist guy for that is basically a fixer, good at procuring items and turning them over at a mark up, the specialist guy for that is a technician, an artist even. Here we have the counterfeiter and the stamp forger. The guy who can jailbreak your phone, the safecracker. Here too we have the saboteur, and, of course, the bomb maker. As is easily apparent from this run down, the specialist guy for that tends more toward outright criminality than does the generalist.

There is a great scene in the film The Battle of Algiers where the Algerian rebels who are involved in an insurrection against the French are planning some bombings in the city. They go to a bomb maker, a guy in the back of a dingy shop, naturally, who leisurely and precisely wires the bomb. The scene is entirely wordless, and features close-ups of the bomb maker’s hands as he arms the bomb. The director Steven Soderberg has said that he could watch a whole film about this guy, and I know what he means. He means, I think, that there is a whole world behind the bomb maker guy that could be explored. Who is he? Where does he come from? How did he come to be the go-to-guy for bomb wiring in Algiers in 1961? What does he do in his spare time? We get answers to none of these questions, just a sparely presented introduction to his art. But that’s enough to know for certain that he’s the guy for that.

We will close with a couple of questions. First, what about the gal for that? My theory is that while the gal for that surely exists somewhere, it is more likely that proximal to the guy for that is the gal that plays a slightly different role. Shady guys hang with shady gals, no doubt, I just think the gals play another, perhaps larger and certainly less easily definable, role in the proceedings. This is perhaps a subject for a future post. Second, what will happen to the guy for that in a future where more of our movements, financial transactions, and even thoughts are tracked and monitored? Will the guy for that slowly go extinct? I don’t think so, or at least I hope not. I think there will always be a place for the guy for that, a hustler who can see the angles, play the edges, middle the situation.

All in all, regardless of the relative morality of guy for that activities, I salute him. Also, I gotta go build a greenhouse. I got a guy for that.

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