“You look for weapons, you check the back seat, and you go by your vibes,” she said. “If they look strange, you stay away.”

December 30th, 2011

“I’ve survived because God was with me,” Ms. Terry said. “Every Sunday, my mother and grandmother prayed for me out here.”

She has shown younger workers the ropes: how to jump in a Dumpster to hide from the police, and how to stay alive. First, never enter a car with more than one person in it, and never let someone drive you out of the area. Get your money up front — Ms. Terry charges $50 or $100 — and try to work with a buddy.

The oldest profession blinks. Malcolm Gladwell would take note.