Three short stories about the little things that get you caught. 

March 21, 2024
Ahmadou DIALLO

Sometimes, you just have to let it go. Other times, you should address it right away. Trust me, I have been there.

"The more you dig, the more you find. Sometimes, it's best to leave things buried." 

–  (Veteran detective), The Little Things

It has been almost three months since I last sat down to write. Yes, I gave myself a break. I have wandered around YouTube rabbit holes and even dared to open Netflix and chill. 

One of the movies that caught my attention lately on that platform is The Little Things, starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto. On the surface, it is a classic film noir about a veteran detective teaming up with a rising star to hunt a serial killer in Los Angeles. 

I will not share any spoilers. But here are the main plot points:

- Haunted Past: the veteran detective is haunted by his past, which clouds his current investigation.

- Uncertain Suspect: A peculiar person is a potential suspect, but his motives are unclear.

- Deeper Darkness: As the investigation unfolds, a light is shed on the darkness of the city and the detectives.

I will share three short stories while I was away from my keyboard. 

Are you annoyed by little things in everyday life? 

Hold on to it while reading the following lines. 

1. Haunted Past

 "Sometimes you never get over things. They just become part of you." (Veteran detective)

I just arrived at our new home. We just moved in after the first lockdown in 2020. We looked on the other side of the fence. It was like a jungle.

“Damn, they could better take care of their garden,” I told my wife. It was the summer. The house was locked. 

Fast-forward to the end of the summer. I discovered those neighbors were two older people, Jacqui and his wife, Evelyne. 

We went to introduce ourselves to all the neighbors. That's how we met Jacqui and Evelyne. I learned they were in their eighties as we got to know them. One stunning fact that shocked me: except for one other couple in the neighborhood sharing a fence with them, no other neighbor is interacting with them. 

Evelyne and Jacqui become our friends. They are like grandparents to our two boys, Noah and Elijah. Be it for Christmas or Easter, they always bring us some gifts. They become like an extended family to us. 

With the boys, we visit them now and then so that they feel like they belong. 

One month ago, I cried. I don’t cry often; I cannot remember the last time I cried before that. I cried because I was sitting in a crematorium looking at a deck of slides while Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah was playing. 

The pictures were of Evelyne, who passed away a week before. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer just three weeks before. 

I have known Evelyne for just three years. Yet she is now part of me for eternity. It all started with one little thing: knocking on their door and saying hi.

2. Uncertain Suspect 

"There's something off about him... but is he capable of this?" (Rising Star Detective)

I am at the Airbus Leadership University in Toulouse, South of France. This remote site offers leadership training, workshops, and other events for AIrbus employees. 

I spent the whole day in a workshop with my colleagues that Tuesday. That place is not directly connected to any other Airbus premises. 

I was walking to the door to join my colleagues. As I was about to get in, he rushed towards me. 

I need to see your bag, he said without even saying hello. I complied mindlessly and opened it to show I only had my computer inside. 

I need to take a picture of your AIrbus badge he added. Once again, I compiled it even though I found it odd. 

Then I went to join my colleagues inside. As I got my computer out of my bag, I told them I was controlled and that the security guard had taken a picture of my badge. 

They laughed at me because none of them were controlled. Curious and furious, I went out to confront the security guard. 

He invaded my private space when I exited the building to confront him. I asked why he controlled my bag and took a picture of my badge. 

He was just there, breathing at my neck. He was looking at his phone, ignoring my questions. His colleague, further away, answered my questions. 

Then I went back inside, even more furious because I just felt like it was racial discrimination. I immediately wrote an email to my manager and to HR to report my experience. 

Security is a subcontracted activity. My department's HRBP (Human Resource Business Partner) told me she contacted the facility management responsible. He said that it was a standard procedure for security reasons with all the crises in the Middle East. On that day, they controlled more than 50 people. 

Maybe that is true. Anyway, I have no way of verifying it. I am a Black man living in France. That was not the first time I was “randomly” arrested. I know that feeling. Maybe that security guard was doing his job. But I definitely felt the lousy smell of racism on his breath. 

There was definitely something off about him, even if I cannot prove it. That was not the first time I felt it. 

3. Deeper Darkness

"There's more to this case than meets the eye. We're just scratching the surface." (Both detectives)

I am sitting at my work desk, flipping over a deck of slides about an organization. I stumbled upon a slide that caught my attention. 

The manager and his direct reports are all White French or German males. That cannot be a coincidence, I said to myself. 

I happen to know him, and I consider him a friend and a leader I look up to. I've chatted with him.

I told him your direct reports are the usual suspects. I invited everyone to the interview table, and I hired only those who were qualified for the position, he answered. While surprised by my feedback (he did not ask for it), he invited me to discuss it further. 

I did my homework and got prepared for our meeting. I shared with him the two following papers:

- Opening Access to the Fast Track for Career Equity

- Five Steps to Build and Sustain Diversity in Your Organization

I also anonymously shared our discussion on our internal social platform. The debate is still going on as I write these words. 

After talking with some people from the Airbus Africa Community, the ERG (Employee Resource Group) I lead, the burden of educating the privileged returned. 

My position is as follows: I am privileged and blessed to be part of Airbus as a company. Yes, it is not a perfect picture, but nothing is perfect in this world. I take it upon myself to educate other people, even if many White French or German male employees will hate me for that. I take it upon myself to speak up even if it is not my best career move. I take it upon myself to point out the obvious little things nobody wants to point out. 

Yes, I am just scratching the surface of unconscious bias, systemic racism, and white privilege. Yet I want to plant the seeds for which I will never reap the fruits. 

I am doing it for all the Noahs and Elijahs out there. Some generations down the road, they will enjoy the shades of the baobabs I planted for them while I have become dust back into the universe. 

Final Thoughts

It is the little things that get us caught. The little things in our past will cloud our judgment in the present. It is the little things that we perceive and ignore that will become the ghosts on our deathbeds. It is the little things that are easy to brush off because of their convenience that will feed the status quo for women and under-represented groups in Western societies.

I was happy to have taken that break from my keyboard. I have dropped the pressure to be so eager to document my life that I forget to live in the first place. I will be less inclined to feed the algorithm. I will be more inclined to feed my friends, family, and community with the gift of total and unconditional presence. 

Ultimately, the little things we do (or do not) leave in people will be our legacy. 

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You can read my previous article: (LinkedIn) 

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You can read my previous article (Friendly link):

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