In the opening chapter of the book titled “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”, Kerman recalls how she had arrived in the Brussel airport when transporting money belonging to a drug baron from west Africa. The 10,000 dollars she was transporting was hidden in a black suitcase (Kerman, 2010). Unfortunately, the suitcase did not make it into the airplane she boarded, and on arrival in Brussel, she was worried that authorities had discovered the money and were about to arrest her. However, an attendant from the airport advised her to wait because sometimes languages were placed in a different plane. Kerman was afraid of being arrested while at the same time she was scared that the drug baron might have her killed for losing his money (Kerman, 2010).
In her shaken state, she gathered some courage and decided to wait for a second flight that was to arrive shortly. Luckily, the suitcase had been placed on the flight, and she gladly grabbed it, bypassing the customs check, and went on to board a taxi. Kerman then narrates what influenced her to take part in money laundering and drug smuggling (Kerman, 2010). A middle-age lesbian by the name Nora was the one that introduced Kerman to join the illicit trade. Kerman had just graduated from college with a degree in performing arts. Her parents were never that proud of the career path she had chosen because her family was full of lawyers and doctors. Nevertheless, she was determined to succeed (Kerman, 2010).
Nora lived the type of life Kerman and other young graduates longed for. She had a large apartment decorated with state of the art furniture; she bought brand new luxury cars, and carried large sums of money in briefcases (Kerman, 2010). Nora also travelled to different places across the globe. While at school, Kerman recalled the stories of young men and women, some having worked for Nora and they had travelled to different parts of the world and returned fine. On the contrary, Kerman had not left the U.S, and when Nora offered her to accompany her to one of her trips, she gladly accepted (Kerman, 2010).
Nora had been introduced to the drug business by a sister’s boyfriend from West Africa. She had travelled to Europe where an American art dealer trained her in the ways of the drug industry. Nora smuggled drugs to the U.S and she was paid large sums for it (Kerman, 2010). One day Kerman saw Nora return home with a briefcase full of money after a drug deal, and it was the largest amount she had ever received. This further motivated Kerman to join the drug business. Moreover, Kerman former classmates had told her how they were doing big things in cities such as New York and San Francisco, and Kerman felt that she was wasting her life in Boston (Kerman, 2010).
The determination to move out of Boston and the glamour of Nora’s lifestyle are the factors that attracted Kerman to drug dealing and money laundering. When Nora offered Kerman an opportunity to accompany her to Indonesia, she could not resist. Besides, Nora had promised her she would do nothing apart from keeping her company. Kerman’s family was suspicious about her new prospects and travelling arrangement (Kerman, 2010). When they asked to find out about her new job, Kerman ignored their questions and left them wondering. The trip to San Francisco, and then Indonesia marked the beginning of Kerman’s journey in the underworld that led to her arrest later and incarceration in a federal prison (Kerman, 2010).
Kerman, P. (2010). Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. New York:Random House.