THE 5 THINGS EVERY FELON MUST KNOW BEFORE THEY ARE HIRED
Due to “mitigating circumstances”, it has been quite some time since I’ve been able to sit down and take to writing with a clear head and heart. By the way, mitigating circumstances does not imply that I got locked up – it is just that I’ve gotten a little distracted as of late, what with life and its infinite amount of problems that it tends to dole out on the reg.
Listen, I’m not ashamed to admit, but I most recently had a bit of a meltdown (actually, I had a major meltdown), as I allowed things to spiral out of control. Over the course of some time, everything seems to have all come crashing down on my shoulders, so much so, that it actually messed with my mental state.
Now before we get into it, full disclosure…. I truly appreciate all that I got. I really do. And I know there’s always some a-hole who’s always got it way worse, but at times I wonder if I could be him – perhaps I just may be that a-hole.
I’ve been extremely unfulfilled for quite some time. Mind you, nothing in relation to family or health, as that’s what keeps me from drinking a gallon of drain-o and ending it all. No, it’s a bit more complicated than that. You see, I’m a convicted felon… and with that comes a lot of baggage.
Where do I begin… well, let’s just say that life hasn’t exactly gone as planned since being convicted. Go figure, huh. Yup, I know I did it to myself, and you may want to say I deserve it, don’t you? That the punishment should fit the crime, right? Well, screw it, I don’t want to hear it right now. You’re reading this and I obviously have your attention, so this is my time to vent. Allow me to elaborate further.
Years of toiling around, working dead end, demeaning jobs for peanuts, while still getting passed over for someone much less qualified, but without a criminal record, can’t help but make you have just a little bit of animosity towards life.
All this is in concerted effort to scrape by some semblance of an existence, grateful nonetheless, battling to keep the smile on my face from withering away permanently. I assure you this is not a mid life crisis, nor some passing phase I’m going through. Been there, done that.
It’s just that I hate the position we’ve been stuck in (yes, we) with this felony that’s haunted my working career (and life), making things infinitely more difficult for not only me, but my family.
It’s like a slow moving cancer through all aspects of your life, very insidious in nature, deciding when it wants to show up and wreak havoc, albeit generally at the most inopportune of times. Hey, that’s life right? Adapt or go home.
How’s this for a public service announcement….
Anyways, getting back to my little mental breakdown I had in the works, obviously there had been a massive frustration building inside of me for quite some time, and if I had to pinpoint when it may have all developed, I would say it was late last year, which coincides with the last time I wrote.
I guess it all started around the holidays as I grew increasingly despondent thinking about how I was going to pull off Christmas and provide for my family, what with lack of available funds and cash flow issues.
I remember being embarrassed after blowing all I had on a tree, yet not having anything left over for presents. Fortunately, it all came together, but as I headed into a new year, I made a personal vow that I would change things up, saying it would be way different this time around.
Living in poverty had eaten away at me. It was hard to imagine a future, let alone one to get excited about, having to always live in survival mode. You wake each morning feeling defeated, not looking forward to what the new day brings. Add in legal woes and restrictions imposed, and my nerves were absolutely fried, never allowing me to have peace.
I kept saying to myself how it would all get better if I could just land a good job to support my family. Then all the worries and troubles I had would magically disappear.
Each night I laid in bed asking and praying for forgiveness, calling on help from above. I knew I was gonna need divine intervention from the big man upstairs but had to do my part in helping the situation if I wanted things to change.
Anyways, fast forward to late January and inside a month, exciting things were starting to happen. I had a kick-ass resume and cover letter that had my phone ringing off the hook, and I was going on multiple job interviews.
I mean what employer wouldn’t love me – I was well spoken, dressed sharp, and knew exactly the right things to say. In a nutshell, I was the dream hire they were searching for and the answer to all their problems. *
*Except for a little felony on my record.
Despite that fact, I was still able to entertain some would be job offers, however, none seemed to really jump out at me with any promise except for one.
Temptation & Misery
Anyways, in an effort to move the point of this story a little faster, alas, I got a new job. I accepted it the moment the opportunity came my way. Now looking back on it though, I may have been a tad too eager on my end and jumped the gun.
I would have to say this was partly due to them being shorthanded and in a hurry to make a decision, as well as the added benefit of not really performing a thorough background check on moi (more on that in a minute).
This was it. After all the menial bad jobs I’ve had and collected over the years, I may finally be on my way. I couldn’t help but think about the possibilities of what this could do for our life. I was excited.
Well, unfortunately the excitement was short lived as it didn’t take very long before I started to dislike the environment. I felt uncomfortable, was tense, and a little bit paranoid. I mean I know I’m a felon, and usually any environment you go into (prison walls included) tends to be uncomfortable, but this was whole lot different. It’s a hard thing to explain but something just didn’t feel right.
The people there acted weird towards me. They seemed fake, and even worse, the job itself and clientele we served were incredibly annoying. I tried to ignore it by justifying it with the money I was making, but still though.
The breaking point (one of them) was two weeks into training when I received an ominous phone call from upper management, where I was needing to clarify something that had come up on me that was rather important for them to discuss.
Now in defense of the employer – yes – they handled it alright after I explained things to them, however, that did not exactly make me feel any better as it was incredibly awkward and stressful, making it look like I was trying to deceive them (which I wasn’t).
In my defense though, it’s not exactly like they asked me if I was a felon or if I’d ever robbed anybody in my life prior to getting the job.
All of a sudden, I went through so many emotions at once. Happiness and relief, that I was still employed (for now), but also shame and humiliation, that I was this outcast trying to slip one past them. As well as beating myself up in private, feeling like an naive idiot, wishfully thinking that my little felony would somehow not rear its ugly head in my career (and life) once again.
Listen, what can I say? I am a felon and I got issues. It’s complicated. It’s so, so complicated. But all I know is I started to hate this damn job.
And I don’t want to go into each and every reason and circumstance as to why I was hating it so much, or why I didn’t fit in with these assholes, I just knew I didn’t want to be there (nor belong).
You better believe I caught my fair amount of grief at home, and deservedly so. The person who has stood by me through thick and thin, enduring tremendous amounts of bullshit, was now trying to appease to my better senses, pleading for me to not make any (more) irrational decisions that would harm our little family even further.
For me to say I just want to up and quit my little job after all the rejections, restrictions, and bullshit I’ve put everybody through, just cause I don’t like it wasn’t gonna fly.
Obviously it took a toll on everyone emotionally, as I ended up bringing that stress home, and as result, everyone around me felt the angst, and got bummed from all my complaining. A sense of dread overcame me every morning I woke up and got ready to go to work. I hated going to this job. Hated it.
Each day I kissed my wife and son goodbye, I was tempted to say screw it and just quit. I would mutter words to them in that effect for preparation of the sh** storm that was to come. I kept telling everyone I’ll find another job, but internally I was asking myself would I though?
I guess I knew I would, but the question was when? When will I find another job… What about overcoming that background check… What if the next place I go to is even worse… I don’t want to be a freaking dishwasher forever…*
*Respect to dishwashers everywhere, but you get the point.
A felon cannot walk out on his job, right? It’s not like there’s a line of people beating down a path to hire extremely talented, creative individuals with a criminal background.
Look, its such a difficult thing to explain internally. I know for those on the outside looking in, you would say suck it up buttercup. Be happy you at least got a job, especially in this economy, especially even more cause you are a felon.
Believe me when I say I understand the sentiment of those that have been fortunate enough to have not screwed up their life in having to deal with this crappy scenario. Kudos, and much respect.
Unfortunately for the many that do have to contend with this mode of living, you end up riding a roller coaster of emotions, repeatedly telling yourself don’t be an idiot, take/keep the damn job. Be grateful for what you have.
You’re a felon, you can’t be choosy with jobs. You’re not gonna get anything better and have to take what you can get.…. says everyone
It’s that mentality there that breaks your spirit, bringing you back to reality as you concede to the notion that you will never be able to attain a better quality of life, having to settle for anything, and this is your punishment for the rest of your days on earth.
I’d battle those feelings everyday I drove to that stupid job, talking myself off the ledge, trying to reason thinking it would get easier with time. It didn’t though.
I’d felt obligated and stuck, as there were mountains of bills to pay, and yes, technically I needed this job in order to take care of those responsibilities and put food on the table. But that was little consolation. Like any prisoner can attest, there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a situation you feel you have no power or control over, having little say in the matter. A form of work purgatory if you will.
Be that as it may, I was giving it my all, but chose to ignore the warning signs and red flags that were going off in my head all the while. By not listening, my confidence and self-esteem started to deteriorate.
Making matters worse, my addictive personality kicked into overdrive and self-preservation was alive and well. Each night I’d come home exhausted, foregoing family interactions, opting rather to drown my sorrows in order to cope with the pressure I was under. Yup, I was doing a great job of messing my head up bad, real good (if there’s such a thing).
So here I am, feeling like a failure and loser after leaving my previous non stressful (shitty) job in pursuit of something that looked so promising and appealing for just a brief moment. God, I was miserable. I turned into a bitter individual so unhappy with life, that I actually missed my previous happy, neurotic felon self.
What is irony folks?
A few months ago, I was in bed, asking, praying, and begging for something so, so bad. Then I end up getting it, and as it turns out – I absolutely hate it. Ain’t that a bitch.
Some would say to be happy, and just shut up. After all I’m a felon, and can’t be picky about what opportunity comes my way, right? Well, as it turns out, wrongola. Despite my felony conviction, I was looking for a different environment to work in. I knew I didn’t belong there, and my days were numbered.
I was going to need to sever ties sooner than later, as all other areas of my life were suffering because of this. I’d figure things out, I just needed a little more time to think and get my head straight.
Listen, I know it’s a lot to ask. I really do. Funny and quite sad that I found myself staring at that same ceiling again in bed, praying for help from above (again), all while not trying to sound like an ingrate (again). And once again I knew I would have to do my part in assisting divine intervention to take place. Something had to give.
So what exactly happened in my journey?
Well, I’m proud to say that I handled business on my end for a miracle to take place. Actually, didn’t really take much effort on my end either. As it turns out, in my emotional haste, I may have said some disparaging remarks about the company and the a-holes working there.
As it also turns out, it seems that the cameras that were around the business picked up audio as well. Gulp. You know where this is going.
Anywho, I got the boot. Canned. Axed. Persona non-grata…. meaning not effing welcome.
These pieces of crap didn’t even have the decency to do it in person, as it was all done in an email. A very short and to the point email. On my day off. Yep. Something about how I was not the right fit, and it was still within the 90 day probationary period for them to make this determination.
Listen, I’m not complaining. Why lie to myself, I was relieved to be done with that place, and not be around all that bullshit anymore.
That night, slept like a newborn baby. No stress whatsoever. Seriously, it was one of the greatest experiences in my life to be terminated, as it basically saved my mental health. I should have been freaking the eff out. In a panic as to what I was going to do now. I wasn’t though.
For the first time in a long time, I now felt a genuine sense of excitement, that I falsely got when hired. Yes, I still had a ton of bills. Still needed a job. And yes, I was still a convicted felon on probation for a very long time, but wasn’t scared anymore, as I could focus.
Mentally and emotionally, I felt whole again. I was able to get all those feelings out that I had bottled up throughout this whole ordeal and write about the horrific experience. That said, I would love to impart a little advice on what I learned from the drama, and what this post was intended for. So here you go….
THE 5 THINGS EVERY FELON MUST KNOW BEFORE THEY ARE HIRED
1. What do You Expect
You’ve gotten a job, and are a felon, congratulations! Now what? Well, you have your expectations, and this is what will set the tone and overall mood for how you will react and be received in your new environment. Like anything in life, there’s going to be an adjustment period. This is the time to have an open mind and learn the ropes of your new employment. Set the bar low and give yourself room to grow and learn, all while you earn.
For your sanity, do not be so hard on yourself, and get defensive. Also, give it a chance before you start to say you hate it (something I had failed to do). I think I waited all of five minutes before I decided I was done with it.
My biggest issue was that I brought all of my outside (felon) baggage to work, a fatal mistake, thus making it a miserable experience. The money problems, legal issues, and family responsibilities I was experiencing all contributed to a bad working situation, sabotaging my chance of happiness when I was at my job. It (the job) never stood a chance.
2. Don’t Burn Bridges
Okay I messed up. I left my previous, non-stressful crappy job for a super stressful crappy one where I would be making a lot more money. Nothing wrong with that, as millions of people have followed suit in that same career path. It’s the way I left and went about it though. I gave no notice whatsoever.
Actually, maybe a few hours (I think). Either way, I left my employer in a bind, and it was unprofessional. It didn’t matter to me; I was on to bigger and better things I thought and I did not care. The moment I secured the new job, I was done with the old. I said f*** them, I’m never coming back.
Little did I know how much I would dislike the new job, that I wound up calling the old one when I was desperate. It was too late though; my position was filled. Didn’t matter that I was the top salesperson, or I had done this or that. Now they did not care.
I regret the way I handled things with them as it looked bad on my part, but only fitting that they couldn’t do anything for me when I came running back. Why would they… I left them with problems and on a bad note.
NOTE: You are a felon. Somebody has taken the risk and hired you. Give them the due courtesy and respect of thanking them and giving proper notice, even if it is a shitty job. It speaks volume of your character. Plus, you never know when you may come calling needing their help or assistance.
3. Get Over Yourself
Geez, I hate to call myself out because I really am my own biggest cheerleader and fan, but I’m also my harshest critic. That said, you must be realistic about what makes an ideal working situation for you to be happy, yet still understand that people will be people in how they treat you, felon or not.
Get real. The world is comprised of different personalities. Some good, some eh, and some that are complete shit stains on society. You are but one of them (hopefully not the shit stain).
Be that as it may, the trick is to not allow that or them to interfere with your end goals in mind. Something I failed to achieve. I got so caught up in what everyone had thought and said of me, that I allowed them the power to mentally and emotionally defeat me into a depression. The result saw my confidence and self-esteem plummet, as I felt I was a victim.
I remember I’d immediately get upset and hostile towards anyone who wouldn’t take my side or see my point of view when explaining how crappy the environment was. Ain’t nobody got time for that, and ain’t nobody wanted to be around me.
You’re a felon. People are going to judge you based on that once they find out, even before they have a chance to get to know you.
How do they find out you ask? The information age we live in is real. The internet, social media, gossiping, and curiosity all lead back to one common denominator. Sucks doesn’t it? Yeah well, f*** ’em. Loosen up.
4. Find the Right Outlet
I love drugs and alcohol as much as the next guy. Well, maybe depending on who the next guy is, but still though…. it got way out of hand, because I let it.
I would find ways to justify it by saying how hard I worked, or that doing it was to relax. Problem is, I have an addictive personality. That can be very good if it’s applied in the right manner. It can also be very destructive if you get off track.
I’m still learning about myself at this late stage in life, but one of the key things I know of myself is to occupy my brain with healthy, yet productive exercises that will keep me out of the abyss. It’s a constant challenge. But a necessary one.
Look, shit is hard out there, and everyone has their stress to manage. Obviously it will be magnified when you are in between jobs, or just starting a new one, but you need to seek alternative paths outside of the regular things you reach for, in order to better handle the situation.
5. Use Time to Your Advantage
So after everything that’s been said and done, maybe your job truly does suck, and you’re positive you hate it. What are you going to do about it?
The truth is, I was tired all the time, and didn’t want to do anything except for nothing when I was dealing with all my job problems.
I would drink, party, and complain in my time off, and before I could blink, would be back at my crappy job where I would complain more. What an asshole I was. All that time wasted where I could have been looking for a different job, doing something about it, rather than waiting for something to happen.
You need to do your part in helping better the situation in order for it to change. And I realized I had not done very much, aside from praying, in following through with anything besides complaining.
Look, every situation is temporary in this life, so don’t let that throw you off, thinking this is how it will always be. You don’t like the crappy job you have…. change it, go get another crappy one. You don’t like that one, same thing. And on, and so forth till you find something you like.
Make no mistake, you will get jobs, felon or not. Be persistent, be relentless in your pursuits. But always be doing something, as opposed to nothing and complaining in order to get what you feel you deserve.
There you have it. Even now as I write this, after some time has passed, it’s all very therapeutic for me as I’ve gained clarity on how I mishandled the situation from start to finish. So I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you. Listen, I’m a felon. I got issues. Like I said, it’s complicated.
Educate yourself on your situation, cause nobody is going to do it for you. Stay well and out of trouble.
–The Educated Felon