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I Bummed a Cigarette at a Festival and Traded Up to Coke

Like that guy who started with a paperclip and traded up to a house

Me with my cigarette. All photos by the author

About a decade ago a dude named Kyle MacDonald from Canada traded a single red paperclip for a house. It wasn't a direct trade. In fact, it took him a year and 14 trades to barter his way up to a two-story farmhouse in Saskatchewan.

The story has become folklore to a certain demographic of sponges, of which I'm probably a part. I have no money, and definitely not enough for the extortion-fest that is Australian coke. But if a guy could trade a paperclip for a house, what was stopping me from trading a cigarette up to a bag of cocaine?


I figured festivals create a unique environment for trading. They're a closed system where people only have what they brought in and can't access anything else. Sure they can ask others, but no one talks to strangers these days. Therefore I was at an advantage—I'd just need to find someone who needed a cigarette. Actually, I needed a cigarette.

These guys were more than happy to help me out with a ciggie. If you see them please return the favor or buy them a beer or something. Quality blokes.

It was harder than I thought. It was hot, and nobody seemed willing to trade anything of value. I came across this guy drinking beer from a protein shaker. I offered to trade the cigarette for the remaining beer. He told me to fuck off.

This guy agreed to trade me a joint for the cigarette as long as I waited about "halfa" for his friends to get back. A joint for a smoke, how could I refuse? After about 40 minutes there was no sign of his friends, while whatever he was on was clearly kicking in. He kept falling over so I thought it best not to take advantage of the poor sap. Plus I needed to crap.

In the festival toilet cubicles I couldn't help but overhear two dudes exclaiming how badly they wanted a cigarette. This was my chance. "Hey, I can help you boys out with your smoke problem," I yelled trans-cubicle. "Just wait for me outside!"

And wait they did. "You're the voice from the toilets, right?" I theatrically pulled out the cigarette from behind my ear. Let's make a trade.


They agreed to trade me four incense sticks for the cigarette, but I had to accompany them back to their tent. Surely I could find some hippie dude who'd pay a high price for these babies.

And I did. Very quickly I found a very #awakened character. After discussing chemtrails, the power of the third eye, and the evils of fluoride poisoning, he agreed to trade me this (very badly rolled) joint for the four "spirit sticks."

Then I found this gentleman. The conversation went like this:
"Hey man, want a joint?"
"What have you got for me?"
"Want a couple of nangs?"

Then I traded two nangs for two cold beers straight from an icy esky.

By this point it was well over 104 degrees and at least a 10-minute walk from the closest bar. I found a dude who was willing to kill for a cold beer. Well lucky for you mate, I've got two. In return he offered a full pack of cigarettes. "Yeah they're from Korea or some shit. My mate brought back heaps."

It wasn't long before the gods presented me with a beautiful girl hoping to bum a cigarette. I told her there was a whole pack with her name on it if she could make it worth my while. "We've got heaps of MD caps—you can have three. Don't get my face in the photo though. I don't want my mum to see it."

I was tempted to end my quest there. I mean three caps of molly ain't bad. But I had come so far. Eventually, after asking around a few camp sites I found a guy old enough to be my dad who was willing to part with a $40 bag of the sweet white stuff.

If you're reading this and you're a cop, or my mum, I took that coke and flushed it down the nearest toilet. Because drugs are bad.

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