Monday, March 15, 2010

#93 Prison Talking: The Web...

Prison Talking: the Web…

No, this isn’t about the internet….

Its almost 2pm as I start this, an interesting day so far. Before I get into that, thanks for a reader that emailed me and asked me to talk on a few subjects, I emailed her on some things and hopefully will be blogging on that soon. One person asked about my “Grades of Honor” books, I hope to get back into selling them soon.

Today I had no initial plans to go out, but my older brother called and asked if I could try to find the “USA Today” paper. As any sports fan knows, the day after the 65 teams are selected to the NCAA Tournament, the papers usually have a large section dedicated to the teams.

So I told him I would walk to the mall and try to find one, and went to do such. I managed to buy 2 copies of the USA Today, and decided to go visit the Christian bookstore in the mall. Some of you that have been reading my more recent blogs know about that story, and how I have been trying to help them build some business.

Well today, the owner of the store, a local pastor, happened to be there, and the two guys that worked there introduced me to him, or him to me, and he wanted to talk to me about advertising. He read my ads that I wrote as an example to him, and wanted to meet me, so there we were.

We walked in the mall, talking about ideas of how to help his business, since to be honest, it wasn’t doing so well. I mean, if I have visited that store 10 times, I might have seen somebody make a purchase there once. He wanted to enlist me to help write some aggressive ads to hopefully generate customers to the store. No problem, I can do that.

As we were coming out of one store, walking back to his store, he meets a guy that recognizes him, and as it turns out, they were old friends from childhood. It so happens this other guy owns a photography shop in the same mall…small world. They talk about old times and things like that, and he shows him and me some pictures of his family, and one of those was his mom, with her sons and daughter around her…

And I noticed that I KNOW one of those guys in that picture.

The owner of that photography shop’s brother used to be the General Manager of the radio station I worked for after I got out of prison…he was also the same guy that fired me, and the same guy that ended up getting fired himself for allegedly taking money from the station.

If you know my older blogs about how this so called “Christian” station treated me, you should well know that I could very well have some choice words for that man. He was not on my most favorite list, and one I had very little respect for. That man, and the church that owned that station, paid me $3 an hour to work there, and I have a B.S. in Radio and Television…nobody else in that station had a college degree. Additionally, I actually WORKED in that very same station a few years before, when it was owned by another company. I knew that station like the back of my hand, and it had not even changed appearance in the time I was in prison. While I was making $3 an hour, and sometimes getting bouncing checks from the church, this GM was making enough money to buy a BMW AND a Lexus….while I am walking to work every day.

Folks…I can go DEEP in this discussion, but I hope you got my point.

So there I am, looking at a picture of a man who , along with the station I worked for, made my life a mess. This was while I was still under probation, and NEEDED a job. But I kept my mouth shut, not saying anything about how I knew the guy. The problem, as I thought in that store, was now that if these two guys knew each other, any affiliation I might have with the owner of that Christian bookstore could spill info about me to this guy, and sooner or later, they might find out that I am an ex felon.

So some of you are saying, “why should that matter, that was long ago”.

Sadly folks, that does not mean a damn thing.

Now I am caught in a web of what to do, my heart says to help this Christian bookstore, because I don’t want to see it fail, and it is very clear the owner wants my help. He was being kind in saying that his store wasn’t making as much money as he thought it would…I think the store is hurting bad, and desperately needs to generate funds.

I can help because I know how to write good ads, I have experience and a degree in radio and television, and I have already demonstrated good faith to the store by writing a 2-page thesis on ads for the store, which the owner greatly appreciated. He told me he knows that I obviously care, because NOBODY would go through those lengths to help somebody at no cost unless they did care.

And in all honestly, I want to help, I really do.

But the other side is now that this guy, and the owner of that photography shop, are now very close childhood friends, it is only a matter of time before my name gets mentioned between them, and that photography shop owner’s brother, recognizes my name…and will probably tell them that I am an ex felon.

Even with two Christian based businesses…I guarantee you the result will not favor me at all.

This is where we are folks, where the idea of ex felons trying to make good, trying to get their lives back, is still under scrutiny, even from Christians. In short, most folks just don’t TRUST ex felons.

And I say this to you, my intentions are as sincere and pure as they can be. The owner of the Christian store even asked how much it would cost for me to be a consultant, I refused to take money now. I wanted to prove myself, and show him, at no cost, how I can help him. Its no different from this very blog.

If you have read more than 10 of my blogs, and still have in the back of you head that I am out to con you out of something, then you will NEVER believe me. Yet I have to continually walk on water and bring the dead back to life before people start to believe that what I am doing, or trying to do, is sincere.

If I get more involved with this man, and help him, I will be putting myself at risk of rejection from so called Christians, based ONLY on my past, not my quality of service or sincerity. I am already a fool for thinking I can help these people, but nobody put a gun to my head and told me to help them…it was out of my own free will.

So I asked the owner of the store to give me a flyer of his business, and to write down any important points he wanted mentioned of his store. I told him, “give me the challenge, give me one week to write some ads for you, and a campaign of how to implement them”.

I meant what I said.

So he did, and I walked back home, thinking how big of a FOOL I had to be, trying to help this business make money, when I really, REALLY need to make some myself. I was kinda hoping to get home, check my email and get some emails from peole who want to support my blogs, that would lift my spirits. Got a couple, which is great, but not as much as I kinda wanted.

So here I am, sitting on this web of decision…to continue to help this man, now that he knows the other owner, may well eventually get that former GM of that station to know who I am, and he will likely tell the others…and my reputation, whatever that would be, would be immediately destroyed and replaced with the “ex con” image.

I could just say, “screw it”, and walk away…I have no commitments to them at all, why should I care whether the store succeeds of goes down in flames?

But I gave my word…I told the guy I would write some ads…so by heart, my honor to myself, and my word, I have to do it…at least that. I will put my effort in writing some ads for this man, because I said I would.

All that I said might kinda sound noble, but I say to you that there are many, many ex felons that are out there, trying to do right, trying to do good, trying to help others, but sadly most people only see what they want to see, which is the negatives. A man can do 9 things write, but if he does 1 thing wrong, we make that the greater emphasis. For ex felons, this can be extremely frustrating, because it kills the idea that a man who has served his debt has redeemable assets. Society likes to put values on individuals, and the more things you do, the more value you have, but if an ex felon manages to create or establish value, he has only to slip one time, and he goes back to zero, whereas anybody else would not lose any points at all.

Its like the pastor of that radio station said of me, “you can’t trust an ex con”. Words he regretted because he tried to make apology to me before the paper came out, but he never told me WHY he was apologizing…I found out when I read the article, and even how he tried to sue the newspaper for printing it…but he said it, they recorded it, and it stuck…and so was I.

So here I am, blogging about this, not sure what will happen in the future, but today I will take some time to answer some emails, put a few retro blogs on, and think on how I can write a comprehensive ad for this owner of the store…at least for today, I could be seen as a saint (although I am a Saints Fan)….

Tomorrow, I could be seen as the devil…only because of my past. We will see…

Until then…..

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