Last year I helped over 90,000 Californians and I’m on track for over 100,000 this year. I focus on those people. Not following the rules got me in prison but what better thing could I be doing.
Incarcerated: 26 years
Housed: Valley State Prison, California
I work in a Prison Industry Authority optical factory. It produces thousands of pairs of glasses each week. After my parole violation was extended for a 5th time in 2021, I was a bit despondent and depressed. Shortly after I was approached by my correctional counselor and asked if I would be interested in a job in optical. At first I hesitated for a couple reasons: one, people who have done nothing wrong had been fired for the actions of others. Second, it required getting up very early, for an eight hour a day, 5 days a week, for a fraction of a dollar per hour. I had become accustomed to no such obligation, and I had become lazy. I didn’t take the application, but immediately something nagged me. I decided to approach the counselor. During the interview I told the supervisor my concerns, and said all I hoped for was: not to be held accountable for anyone else’s behavior and acknowledged for the job I do. I did my best. I started to notice the many different frames and styles. It occurred to me that each represented a different person. Women, men, boys, girls and infants.
I started having this joy of imagining different people. My considerations and thoughts kept going to the Californians behind these frames waiting for their prescriptions. I often hear complaints: the hours, the pennies for pay, the cops, but all I could think about are the people behind the frames who didn’t know or need to know me. But I get to be a help to each of them! After several months my work ethic put me in a position to run a department. It was here I started counting how many Californians I helped each day. When other guys complain, or I get ridiculed for hard work, I’d walk up, grab a pair of frames and state, “This may not be your sister, brother, daughter or son, but it’s someone’s and I work because people need their glasses.” Last year I helped over 90,000 Californians and I’m on track for over 100,000 this year. I focus on those people. Not following the rules got me in prison but what better thing could I be doing. The value I get is the great feeling that no matter what past mistake I made, I am helping people.