Quincy Paige, 36
Released after 8 years
Diane: Tell us about your parole board hearing.
Quincy: I had a determinate sentence and was only sentenced to eight years. I didn’t have to go to the parole board. They did have a parole hearing, but not to find out if you can get out or not. It was just them saying the parole conditions.
Diane: How were you feeling the night before your release?
Quincy: I didn’t go to sleep! Which seemed like bad juju, because when I went to start the whole release process, they told me that my ride got a flat on the freeway and would be here two hours later. Past that, my paperwork got lost, so they had to redo it all. You usually leave at eight in the morning, and I wasn’t released until almost three o’clock.
Diane: Were you worried that you wouldn’t be able to leave?
Quincy: Yeah, I was like they’re going to do something and tell me I can’t go today. It was crazy because the correctional officer that was taking me is the one that put this in my head. He came and got me, and the lights started flickering and just went out. He was like, “Oh, shoot! Do you believe in omens?” I was like, “Don’t do this to me!” Then, as he stepped out, he stepped on the thing and the whole stairs broke! The stairs just crushed under him. He was like, “See? Omens, man.” I said, “Don’t you talk like that! I’m getting out of here.”
Diane: What happened after your papers were complete?
Quincy: They said, “Good luck. We don’t want to see you back here” and gave me a card with $200 on it. “ The moment I got in the car, I kid you not, I got carsick. I told him, “I need a bag,” and started throwing up. It seemed very overwhelming. I was sick for a whole week.
Diane: I often wonder how it would feel if you haven’t been moving in a vehicle for so long.
Quincy: Yeah, and eating real food, too. They took me straight to a Mexican restaurant, and I had street tacos. I scarfed those things down like it was my last meal. Instantly, I got sick. The food tasted too good. It was too much.
Diane: What a rough reentry, getting sick in the first hour!
Quincy: Yeah, I was like, “This is gonna be horrible! Something is going to happen! I’m going back!”
Diane: What did you do after you ate Mexican food?
Quincy: They drove me to a reentry program in Santa Barbara. They had a bed for me and everything, so that’s why I went. I stayed the night, dog-tired and sick. The next morning, I went to my parole office to check in, and they said they had no records that I was supposed to be there. So they called my parole agent who was supposed to look over my stuff. She was like, “We already sent all that.” They said, “They must have gotten lost in transit. You have to come get him because he can’t be here.” So I was on the road again to Bakersfield.
Diane: Why did you go to Santa Barbara to begin with?
Quincy: They had a program I needed to complete in order to start my job at Sirius XM. I had to be in stable housing so they could send me all the equipment in order for me to start working remotely. My parole agent said, “Well, it’s already too late to try to find you a program and everything in Santa Barbara. We’re going to parole you as a transient to Bakersfield and put you in a homeless shelter that will help you get your own place. You can either stay here and get your own place, or we can transfer you to LA. Well, I already met the love of my life here, so I was like, “Don’t you dare send me to LA!”
Diane: How did you meet the love of your life so quickly?
Quincy: It was weird how we met. We were both living in the homeless shelter and I had been there for almost two months. I was working for a paper called The Beat Within. I was writing and waiting for my shower time. I heard this voice behind me I didn’t recognize. I turned around, and this woman had the hugest, most beautiful smile on her face. I was like, “What? Who is this?” Then she had a little attitude, cussing people out. I was like, “What! And she’s feisty!” She’s the cutest thing ever. She’s so tiny, but she’s got this mean face. She’s like a pitbull puppy. What got us to start dating was actually a horrible incident. A transgender woman was upset and Chelsea, my girlfriend, has very long hair. She went behind her to try to cut it. Chelsea was so livid. I had just walked into the building and she was standing there bawling her eyes out. I was going to leave it alone, but something tugged at my heart. I went back and made a joke and she started giggling through her tears, so I was like, “Alright, she’s not too far gone.” I said, “Would you like a hug?” She said “Yeah,” and we stood there hugging for 45 minutes. I asked her, “I’m about to watch some movies. Would you like to watch with me, and we can talk?” She said, “Yes!” and that’s how we met. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
Diane: How were you first introduced to Sirius XM?
Quincy: While in San Quentin I took an audio engineering class, with a program called The Last Mile Radio and they were talking about helping us outside the walls, to get a job. A week before I got released, Jason, the director, came to me and said, “We’re doing a fellowship with Sirius XM. Would you like to be the first one in a trial run?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Would you like to work with Sirius XM, doing audio engineering? You’ll be working on everything you learned in here.” I said, “Yes, I would love that!” And he set it up. They actually waited until I got into my place to send me the equipment and everything. They sent me letters of support to my parole agent to try to get me housing. They sent letters to my employer, my rental place. They did everything. It was phenomenal.
Diane: How is your job going now?
Quincy: I was out three months before I started with Sirius XM. Being an audio engineer doesn’t even scratch the surface of what we actually do. I know you’ve heard of Pandora and Stitcher and all this kind of stuff. We actually compose and produce a lot of those shows. All the content you hear, whether it’s commercials, anything, we are behind them. We put in orders so the artist gets paid. Everything you can think of that happens with that radio station, we do. I work for the music department, producing the shows, but they’re not actually my shows because I’m still part time. When I’m full time, they’ll give me shows. What I do fully is The Last Mile Radio show. I’m working to be the producer. It’s going to be solely my show that I help produce.
Diane: How long have you been with XM now?
Quincy: Going on five months.
Diane: Where do you see yourself in the future?
Quincy: Near term, I see myself getting a full time position with The Last Mile Radio show and at least one ideal spot in the music department. Long term, I want to produce my own podcasts and radio shows. They have platforms for people who work for them to put their stuff on there. I want to do my own podcast called, “Tales from a Tall Boy,” where I talk to the homeless and get them to tell their side of the story, to humanize these guys and get them to realize that they’re not all just crackheads and drug dealers or addicts. I want to talk about the things people don’t want to talk about or face, whether it’s crime related, trauma related… I want to dig deeper and start healing.
Diane: Your work is soul filling. You’ve told me you’re going to get married. How did you propose?
Quincy: I took her out on a date. Like I said, we lived in a homeless shelter. I went in her room, took her out to eat, wined and dined her. We were laying down. She was like, “Hey, I’m going to get in the shower.” She yelled for me to join her, so I did, and she started pouring out her heart to me. “I respect you, I love you, I can’t believe somebody cares about me this way…” Like I said, she’s like a pitbull puppy. She’s very closed off to everything. When she said all that, I realized she actually started caring for me. She said the magic words. She said, “Nothing could make this moment any better,” while I was holding her. I said, “Oh okay.” I pushed her away, got on one knee, and proposed to her. She instantly started crying! I said, “Will you marry me?” She said, “Yes, you idiot! In the shower? You’re going to propose to me in the shower?!” I’m so lucky I found this woman.
Diane: Do you have any wedding plans?
Quincy: I got clearance to go to Santa Monica. I’m going to marry her on Santa Monica beach. I have everything going for it already.
Diane: Do you have a spot where you want to live?
Quincy: We’re going to move to LA once I’m off parole for a year because I have to do a year inside the studio at Sirius XM. They told me I can go to Nashville or DC and they have all these places because they have studios out there. But since I love LA and Chelsea has never really been, I figured let’s go! I actually have a meeting with Michael “Harry” O’Harris, the cofounder of Death Row Records. His studio is out there. Why not go to LA and shoot my shot?
Diane: It is remarkable to be able to have a job you love with a life partner!
Quincy: I know, she’s so amazing. She’s my #1 fan. She supports me through everything. My brothers love her. They call her. In the beginning, they asked me, “Is this the right step for you?” I said, “Yes.” “Then we support it all the way.” Then they met her, and they were like, “Can you find us one?”