On the hit HBO series The Wire, there was a guy named Omar who was well-known in West Baltimore for one thing: Robbing drug dealers.
Omar didn’t sell or use drugs. Omar would simply (if you wanna call it that) scope out who was making good money selling drugs, let them sell product, then rob the dealer of his profits. This was Omar’s entire business model. And, combined with Omar’s reputation for carrying a very large shotgun for personal protection, it worked pretty well.
One redeeming quality of Omar was that he never bothered non-drug-dealers. And, since Omar only worked in robbing dealers, civilians who hated seeing drug dealing going on never even noticed Omar.
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Once, a dealer Omar had victimized realized he needed to get rid of Omar, once and for all. And trying to go bullet-for-bullet with Omar and Omar’s shotgun wouldn’t have been wise. So he came up with a more indirect plan.
One of this dealers henchmen was to shoot a civilian dead (the drug game is a dirty one) and intimidate an eye witness (also part of the victim dealer’s organization) into naming Omar as the murderer.
The plan seemed to work: Omar was arrested and booked into the city jail, where more than a few incarcerated drug dealers were eager to attack him as first chance.
But Omar had a lifeline in his pocket.
As a thank-you for some help on a prior case, a detective had given Omar his business card. The detective told Omar to call him if he ever needed any (legal) help.
This was that time for Omar.
He called the detective, who came to the jail to speak with Omar. The detective was not sympathetic to Omar’s plea that he’d never have shot a civilian. “Maybe you didn’t do this one, but you’ve done others!” was the detective’s rationale.
Omar then presented that business card to the detective with one final pleading statement: “A man must have a code.”
Omar got out of jail that day.
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I had a run-in with a security guard at my building in early April. If you follow me on Snapchat, you saw the altercation on video.
I put it on Snapchat because I snap actively, and I saw it as a useful teaching/content moment (thus, this post and subsequent podcast episode detailing why I did what I did).
The confrontation would’ve happened anyway, with or without Snapchat. Because it wasn’t about the viewers, and not even about the punk security guard himself.
When other people are rude or discourteous towards you, or conduct themselves in a way you wouldn’t accept, usually that person has their own issues. Usually they’re not out to get you specifically. You just happened to be there today and now.
At the same time, you still have to deal with yourself. You may need to reconcile with what you’ve allowed or tolerated or accepted that you know you shouldn’t have allowed.
THAT’S why I went and found that security guard. Not to prove anything to him, or to you. But to prove to myself that there is a line that will not be crossed by anyone.
And to know I could look myself in the mirror that night with knowledge that I’d honored my code.
Do you have a code? Without one, you’ll always be confused as to what’s acceptable and what’s not.