Codes to Live By

By Jim Morando

You probably live by a code that governs your behavior. You bring enough booze, food and cigars for all. You are happy when your buddy catches a bigger fish or shoots your game camera phantom. You give and take abuse in equal measure. You have lifelong friends you would do anything for, and on occasion, even help complete strangers. If all this sounds foreign to you, don’t despair, there is still time for you to earn your way into the “Circle of Trust.”

I can attest to the life-giving qualities of living by a code. For the better part of a week, I worked for a gentleman whose life literally depended on it. His nickname was the Bat Man, and he did not earn his moniker because he wore a mask and a black cape. In his earlier days he was a debt collector.

After my first year of college I needed a summer job so I called up my Uncle Sal, who knew everyone in our suburban Long Island town. He suggested I call a friend of his, who even going back forty years ago, had rampant retention issues. In hindsight, I should have asked why he always needed help.

My second day I took a rental truck (the one with the company logo was in the shop) to a new housing development to pick up some defective appliances that were conveniently stored in an unlocked garage.When I wheeled the fridge out, I was met by an angry mob that picked up an assortment of hand tools on the way over to greet me. As soon as I told them who sent me, their demeanor changed immediately and they enthusiastically helped me load the dishwasher, stove, washer and dryer onto the truck and strap them down. My danger lights flashed, but maybe the appliances really were all bad.

The fourth day, those same danger lights flashed early and often. Among other things, I found out that some of my co-workers had not really actually attended the State University of New York at Ossining. That was actually code for the Sing Sing correctional facility. I quit on day five after I decided I didn’t need a job that would probably include a record for life at no extra charge.

Five or six years later, my father sent me an article out of the local paper. It described how my former employer was eating dinner in an Italian restaurant at his corner table facing the street when a rival with a sawed-off shotgun walked right up to the plate glass window that separated them and discharged both barrels. The buckshot did not penetrate the glass and he walked away unscathed. In the ensuing interview he said, “I know the shooter and will take care of the issue myself. I’ve never been a rat and have no intention of becoming one.” While it was clear he lived by a strict code of conduct, unbeknownst to him, it was an entirely different code which allowed him to stay vertical that evening.

Turns out, in New York, if your retail establishment is on a street that has a speed limit of 25 MPH or more and is within a certain distance of the road, the building code says you have to use thick, impact resistant safety glass. This is to avoid having a vehicle kick up a rock, shatter your window and slice up your customers.

My ex-boss lived by one code and was given the gift of life by another. If this is not enough motivation for you to start living by a code, don’t be surprised if you get whacked by a guy with a bat sometime in your future. If that hits a little too close to home, don’t stress……you’ll never see it coming.

Editor’s note: Part of your life’s code should be to invest in a great pair of hunting boots. The author of this piece, Jim Morando, is the proprietor of African Sporting Creations. We recommend you visit Jim’s site and buy yourself a pair of Courteney Selous boots.

From the FE Films Archive

See More Films from Field Ethos

You May Also Like