The world is different than I would’ve thought.
Many a year ago I saw a study. It pretty soundly linked perception and media consumption. By this I mean, how dangerous people saw the world was pretty strongly related to how much news and media they consumed. People who saw the world as less threatening, tended to be out and about more.
Now, mind you, I spend a lot of time consuming media. I may not read many books these days, or any books at all, but I read hours upon hours a day. I read newspapers, magazines, website upon website, blog after blog. Many of them relevant to my job and career. I want to do what I do better, every day, every year. But I’m also out and about, a lot, I mean, a lot.
So in the last few weeks, and these photos are already over a week old, I’ve just been busy, I’ve met at least two former drug dealers and ex-cons. You know what? They were two of the nicest, smartest, and in some ways, wise people I’ve met in a long time. The older one I met knew it, he just knew it. It didn’t matter what “it” was, he knew the score, he knew what was important in this world and he knew he had made mistakes and that he had moved on. He knew he was a good guy. And I only got to know him for maybe twenty minutes. From that time, he was right.
Isaah, was much younger, maybe 19. He made some mistakes, some big mistakes, but you know what, it’s not the mistakes that matter, it’s what we learn from them that matters. Isaah, he learned. He learned big time. Isaah is one of those rare people who makes me regret leaving the world (the horrible world) of management. I wanted nothing more after talking to Isaah than to offer him a job. No, his skill set might not have been great, but he has the important qualities. He is smart, he learns from his mistakes, kind, caring, interested and interesting, genuine and also scarred, hard-working, looking to make his life better, and willing to do the work to get there.
He’s currently doing work with a program, Clean Slate, to help him get placed in a steady job and get the training he needs. Much of this involves doing work picking up trash on the street. I was a janitor for a few months, but nothing as hard as what he’s doing, and he’s doing it for far less, for now. He’s trying, he’s working. Isaah came across as what we want from the citizens of this country, a desire to improve, both their standing in the world, and themselves.
I tried to relay that to him, I’m sure I failed, but that morning I spent hanging with him, learning his story, his past, and how he was trying to make a better now, and better tomorrow, you know what, he’s one of the reasons I love my job. People like Isaah.