A Dealer

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A Dealer

Joanna May Bryant (Indiana University, 1987)

Eric is a member of a growing, highly organized group. In an organization that has a complete hierarchy, Eric is one of the lowest members; the only people he is above are those who come to him for a supply. Eric sells cocaine. Eric is an intricate part of what so many Americans are battling. The "war on drugs" is being won by Eric, his associates, and others like them because they are not being detected; and even if Eric or another direct seller is caught, the boys at the top are protected through anonymity.

Eric is neither wholesome nor pure; but, he has a certain innocence about him. When I first met him (thorough a mutual friend who knew of my project), Eric was very shy. However, once he was comfortable with my being around, he began to talk and laugh; I found him to be very open. When it came time to discuss his business, as he calls it, he became serious again. He was still very open; but his mood was now placid. The only things he refused to tell me were: how much money he makes from a buy and the quantity he sells.

In finding the attitudes of nondeviants, I did not have to structure a discussion. A few of my friends and their roommates were discussing drug dealers and I happened to be present. They did not know anything about this project, and I could observe them. Occasionally I asked a question to get attitudes more specific to Eric's framework. This was mostly for the exchange. I said something like: Where do you think a seller gets the drugs from his supplier? And later I interjected: what if it's in a public place? I feel confident that I captured their true attitudes.


Eric first became involved with this group through a friend from his hometown who was a direct seller; now that friend is Eric's group leader (I use group leader, Eric only calls him by his name, Joey). Eric asked Joey how he always had extra money while he was in college and Joey told him through selling cocaine. Joey went on to explain how Eric could get into the group and have this extra money also. Joey also promised to protect Eric until he could look out for himself.

When Eric gets a telephone call from his group leader, only a destination is given; those are the only words that Joey says. It is understood that Eric will meet him there in fifteen minutes. Eric dressed in a somewhat preppie style, goes to meet Joey. It is usually a public place with a lot of activity. Upon meeting, Eric and Joey shake hands to exchange the cocaine, and they engage in small talk while Eric puts the product out of sight. Near the end of their meeting, Joey will tell Eric where to meet his buyer. Joey then waits, usually about half an hour before going to that location. When he arrives, the buyer will be waiting outside. The buyer gets into the car, they will drive around chatting, then the buyer will take the cocaine from the glove compartment and replace it with the money. Eric will then take the buyer back to the location of pickup and then go home. He takes the portion of his money and waits; it is only a matter of time before Joey comes by for his money. Eric does not know exactly how the money gets distributed. He only knows his share.

Probably the most important aspect of Eric's activity is the exchange of cocaine between Joey and Eric which I remind you occurs in a public place. In the specific event that Eric told me about, the exchange went like this:

Eric, dressed in blue jeans, a blue and white striped oxford shirt, and topsiders, goes to his car. He drives to College Mall and arrives at 3:10 pm. He enters through the mall entrance by Sears, and begins walking. He buys a soda at The Hot Dog Experience and walks toward Blocks. At this point, he says he is just "cruising the mall" and is not thinking about the upcoming events. He sees Joey in front of Blocks by some benches; a girl is with him. Joey, smiling, walks toward Eric. They shake hands and greet "as friends who haven't see each other in a while do." Eric immediately puts the cocaine in his jeans pocket, he is still holding his soda with the other hand. Joey introduces the lady as "Cheryl, she's in my Anatomy Lab." Joey inquires about Jeff from back home; they engage in more small talk (Eric tells me that he can't recall exact topics). Their conversation lasts about ten minutes, ending with:
Joey: Oh, there's a bash at Will's tonight, will you be there?
Eric: Great! Where does he live this year? Same as last?
Joey: Yeah.
Eric: Okay, I remember the place. Nice to meet you Cheryl. (Eric begins walking away.)

Eric wanders the mall and makes his way back to his car by 3:50. The first thing he does is to take the cocaine from his pocket and put it in the glove compartment. Now, he is going to Will's. "The same place as last year" means Will is a regular customer and Eric knows the address.

Here is the sequence of events.

Eric drives to college mall
Eric parks car
Eric walks to building
Eric enters college mall
Eric cruises college mall
Eric goes to hot dog experience
Eric buys a soda
Eric cruises college mall (repeat)
Eric moves toward blocks
Eric sees joey
Eric saunters toward joey
Eric extends hand to joey
Eric shakes hands
Eric greets joey
Eric feels cocaine in his hand
Eric puts cocaine in pocket
Eric chats with joey
Eric finds out next location
Eric says goodbye
Eric cruises college mall (repeat)
Eric leaves college mall
Eric walks to car
Eric gets into car
Eric takes cocaine from pocket
Eric puts cocaine in glove compartment
Eric heads to destination

Attitudes and Feelings

The first time through, Eric did not include the dialogue. He said, "We met in front of Blocks, Joey had some girl with him, we shook hands, I got the cocaine, and I left." I then asked the following questions which he answered openly and freely. 1. What did you wear? 2. What time was it? 3. What path did you take to Blocks? Did you buy anything? 4. What were you thinking about while walking? 5. Did you talk or just shake hands? What did you say? 6. After the shake, did you walk away with the cocaine in your hand? 7. How do you know where to go next?

Then, we started talking about his feelings. For example, I asked, What do you feel when the cocaine first touches your hand? When you first see Joey? Eric's response was: "A rush of energy, but it will go away when I get more practice." From this I decided the exchange was lively from Eric's point of view. Do you see anything wrong with the exchange? Response: "No, how could it get any easier? We walk in and do it; nobody knows, we just stay cool." I, therefore, deduce that he views it as somewhat big, powerful and good.

Outsiders view the exchange totally differently. They thought that because it was in a public place, it was: "Awful! how could anyone do such a thing!" I then asked if they thought it was daring; they said no it is cowardly because they surround themselves with normal people and try to blend in.

After going through the entire scenario of his last dealing, Eric and I talked about Joey. Their business relationship is completely separate from their friendship. Eric says there is respect in the business and when I asked if he respects Joey, he said yes. When I asked if he respects buyers, he said no, not really because they are dependent. Eric does not view buyers as very powerful. Within the hierarchy, Joey is the most powerful of the three (group leader, direct seller, buyer) and Eric has taken on the ideology of the group. He sees Joey as most powerful, then himself, then buyers.

Nondeviants view buyers as the least powerful (most powerless) and less lively. Whereas Eric has respect for Joey and less for buyers, nondeviants view Joey as the worst. They say "anyone who introduces someone to selling drugs is horrible."

Here are the profiles from ATTITUDE which resulted from my rating the deviant and nondeviant views. [The second column of numbers is the standard deviation for two separate ratings.]

GROUP LEADER, by deviant
E        1.889    0.314
P        1.722    0.236
A        1.611    0.236
GROUP LEADER, by normal
E        1.889    0.471
P        0.333    0.000
A        0.333    0.157
SELLER, by deviant
E        1.333    0.157
P        1.389    0.393
A        1.667    0.629
SELLER, by normal
E        1.333    0.314
P        0.611    0.079
A        0.722    0.079
BUYER, by deviant
E        0.994    0.079
P        0.500    0.079
A        0.611    0.236
BUYER, by normal
E        1.167    0.079
P        1.778    0.629
A        2.000    0.000
EXCHANGE, by deviant
E        1.389    0.550
P        1.556    0.471
A        2.333    0.157
EXCHANGE, by normal
E        2.611    0.707
P        0.667    0.314
A        0.556    0.157


The following Interact results are based on female attitudes and verbal primary behaviors. The selected behavior is underlined.


Emotions after underlined act

SELLER: dazzle, exchange with, entertain, titillate, amuse, rally, astound, challenge

LEADER: dazzle, entertain, amuse, exchange with, delight, amaze, awe
cheerful, in love, affectionate, lighthearted, passionate, thrilled, overjoyed, ecstatic

contented, lighthearted, touched, charmed, amused, relieved, delighted, cheered


SELLER: entertain, dazzle, amuse, amaze, awe, rally, brief, enrapture. exchange with

BUYER: amaze, speak to, rally, extol, exalt, idealize, astonish, hail
lighthearted, delighted, passionate, joyful, thrilled, charmed, amused, elated

touched, moved, awestruck, contented, relieved, emotional, at ease, charmed


SELLER: amaze, charm, enthrall, brief, awe, acclaim, greet, exalt

OUTSIDER: jest, idealize, josh, chatter to, astonish, awake, kid, spoof
awestruck, emotional, overwhelmed, moved, touched, humble, _^__, ___^

___^, _^__, ____, __\_, __^_, _\__, tense, emotional


Emotions after underlined act

SELLER: doubt, disbelieve, berate, classify, disenchant, deprecate, blame, pooh-pooh. exchange with

LEADER: berate, deprecate, doubt, classify, disbelieve, blame, disenchant, pooh-pooh
smug, disturbed, grouchy, resentful, disgusted, shocked, displeased, irritable

_\__, ___\, ____, __^_, __\_, ___^, tense, _^__


SELLER: doubt, disbelieve, berate, classify, disenchant, pooh-pooh, deprecate, blame. exchange with

BUYER: No act.
grouchy, smug, contemptuous, irritable, disturbed, hostile, disgusted, resentful

melancholy, shocked, displeased, ___\, _\__, tense, __\_, apprehensive


SELLER: doubt, disbelieve, berate, classify, deprecate, disenchant, blame, pooh-pooh

OUTSIDER: doubt, disbelieve, evaluate, coax, befuddle, overrate, humble, criticize
___\, melancholy, ____, __\_, _^__, _\__, __^_, ___^

__^_, _^__, ____, ___\, ___^, moved, _\__, __\_

The first interaction I will look at is between Joey and Eric from the deviant perspective. The predictions from Interact are that Eric might dazzle Joey or exchange with (the act of exchanging cocaine as viewed by deviants), entertain, titillate, amuse, rally, astound, challenge him. Joey should dazzle Eric or entertain, amuse, exchange with, delight, amaze, awe him. If we then choose "exchange with" we get the following emotions: Eric feels cheerful, in love, affectionate lighthearted, passionate, thrilled, overjoyed, ecstatic. Joey should feel contented, lighthearted, touched, charmed, amused, relieved, delighted, cheered. These are all very positive feelings about the exchange process. This is quite consistent with Eric's discussion of his feelings.

Conversely, the emotions of nondeviants are also predicted quite well by Interact. Consider the Seller-Buyer case. Eric is put into a role of "sellnd" (which means a seller viewed from the nondeviant perspective), the buyer is in the role of nbuyer (that is, a buyer viewed by nondeviants), and they engage in an act of "exchange with" (which means make an exchange from the nondeviant perspective). According to Interact the nondeviants believe that Eric would feel grouchy, smug, contemptuous, irritable, disturbed, hostile, disgusted, resentful. This accurately portrays the emotions expressed by the nondeviants. They seemed to be afraid of drug dealers, because of the unknown, so they said.

Eric, according to the ATTITUDE results, thinks no differently of insiders and outsiders. When I asked him about this, he agreed. He is no different from those not involved in cocaine deals and does not put them above or below himself. Outsiders, on the other hand, always put themselves above the dealers when talking about them, yet conveyed they were afraid of drug dealers.

We see the biggest difference in behaviors and emotions between Eric and an outsider when they, themselves, interact. (The Interact identity of "outsider" is used for this analysis.) From Eric's perspective, he might amaze, charm, enthrall, brief, awe, acclaim, greet, exalt the outsider - who would jest, idealize, josh, chatter to, astonish, awake, kid, spoof Eric. But from the outsider's perspective, Eric would doubt, disbelieve, berate, classify, deprecate, disenchant, blame, pooh-pooh the outsider, who would doubt, disbelieve, evaluate, coax, befuddle, overrate, humble, or criticize Eric. From Eric's perspective if the outsider does "jest" him, he feels awestruck, emotional, overwhelmed, moved, touched, humble, and he thinks the outsider should feel unemotional. But, the outsiders who "humble" Eric don't expect him to feel humble, just neutral or melancholy.

From Interact's predictions and from statements by Eric and outsiders, we see that insiders and outsiders have completely different views of dealing cocaine and the relationships within the drug culture. Deviants (insiders) see their behavior as normal and good and they form good relationships within the hierarchy. Nondeviants believe that the culture is evil and, when I asked, they said the people in the hierarchy are not concerned about each other. Also, Eric is somewhat gratified by the exchange ordeal (rush of energy when cocaine hits his hand) and by the whole drug selling process. Nondeviants did not think this was so, they thought of all of it as bad.




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URL: www.indiana.edu/~socpsy/ACT/InteractTutorial/aDealer.htm