A Whole New World (Conclusion) Read Count : 34
Category : Blogs
Sub Category : Motivation
Carl's incarceration journey did not end at Polk Correctional Institution, but I decided to write about it only up to that point because if I were to continue, I will end up writing a whole damn book about his life in prison and that was not what I intended.Anyway, after Polk, he was sent to six other prisons all over Florida, making his length of living on the "other side" a total of 32 long years. Carl had literally lived most of his life incarcerated. He went in a green 18 year old kid and came out a 50 year old fart. His release was only made possible when the parole commission board selected him to be sent to Glades Correctional Institution in October 2012 to enable him to participate in the Correctional Transition Program (CTP), which was developed by Dr. Regina B. Shearn in an effort to help long term offenders like him get prepared for life in society. He did the program for four years, after which he was finally granted parole in July 2016.Being released from prison did not mean he was completely free. He still needed guidance and supervision out here in the free world simply because of the length of time he was locked away. The life that he knew when he was a teenager is now completely different. Everything has changed. He basically had to re-learn simple and basic things as well as learn all the new things such as how to operate gadgets like smartphones and computers. Having lived in a world where issues like traffic jams were non existent, being out in the free world can be overwhelming for someone in his shoes. To help him adjust, he was placed in Noah Community Outreach (a halfway house) and was given a level of supervision called Community Control. This required him to schedule every aspect of his day and submit his daily schedule to his parole officer for approval.Not long after his arrival at Noah House, the guys who had been released earlier had introduced him to the guys who ran the Labor Pool at Liberty Staffing. When Carl went to meet them, they immediately found him a temporary job with a demolition company. He did well in that job even though it was hard work and tough on his 50 year old body. He stayed on that job for two weeks and then was given another opportunity by Liberty Staffing to join the Clean Team at Tampa Downtown Partnership. His assignment was simple: clean in front of store fronts, sweep and clean along side streets, empty the public trash containers, in short, he made himself as useful as he could. That job had landed him right smack in the heart of Downtown Tampa where he was constantly surrounded by so many people. For someone who had deep issues with public exposure, Carl had his moments of panic and anxiety attacks but he knew being exposed in that environment was exactly what he needed to get him acclimated to society.After almost 6 months on the Clean Team, he received a call from another Temp Agency; Manpower Inc., asking him if he'd be interested in a job working for Metropolitan Life Insurance. He wasn't sure about it at first, but after explaining to them (Manpower Inc.) of his unique circumstance and the nature of his crime, they assured him that they could get him the job. He was elated. The pay offered was almost double the minimum wage he was getting so he took a leap of faith and went for it.MetLife was an amazing experience for Carl. He poured his all into learning the ropes. For someone who had never even had insurance in his life, he was going into it stone cold but he was determined to make a success out of it. He was doing so well in his job that after 19 months of working as a temporary staff, the regional manager offered to bring him on as a permanent employee. Carl couldn't believe his fortune. Being a permanent employee for MetLife literally meant that he would be set with a career position, which would also mean he'd be set for life. Unfortunately, shit happened. Though he had shared his background with the Temp Agency, Manpower Inc., they never shared that information with MetLife. When MetLife did a background check on him, they were shocked to learn of his colourful past. They immediately canceled his temporary contract and just like that, Carl was jobless. He felt like he had been played by Manpower Inc.Julio, a manager from Tampa Downtown Partnership had somehow heard about Carl's misfortune. A week after Carl lost his job he received a call from Julio asking him to go back to Liberty Staffing. So, after a year and a half, Carl found himself back on the Clean Team, cleaning, sweeping and helping people on the streets. Four months later, he was summoned to the Tampa Downtown Partnership headquarters where he was told to report to Linda, who was the CEO. All kinds of worrying thoughts were swirling in his head as he made his way to meet her. When he arrived at the office he was led to a room where 5 people were waiting for him. The meeting went well for Carl as they ended up giving him a new position as a Guide.His main function as a Guide was to assist Downtown motorists and pedestrians with minor roadside assistance, battery jumps, help to change flat tyres, make gas runs, as well as assisting in locating "lost" vehicles around the area. Aside from that, it was also his job to provide directions, restaurant suggestions, information on current events in the Downtown area, and in some cases, he was also required to provide information on local history. Armed with a set of walkie-talkie, Carl was literally on his feet for 8 hours a day, patrolling the streets of Downtown Tampa. He flourished in his position and after a year he was promoted to shift supervisor. He was grateful.By this time, Carl had already left Noah House and was living with his niece and her family. As grateful as he was for the support he was getting from Downtown Partnership, it didn't prevent him from taking another opportunity when it presented itself. He was having dinner one night with a CTP member and his wife where a suggestion was made to him to apply for a job at Advance Insurance Brokerage (AIB) where the wife of that CTP member was employed. Carl was reluctant at first due to his unjust termination at MetLife. However, he sent his resume to her when she asked him to with the condition that she briefs her boss of his past to avoid any unwanted surprise. She agreed to his terms. Three days later Carl received a call from the owner of AIB asking him if he could report to the office the following morning for orientation. He spoke to his Manager at Downtown Partnership about the opportunity that was given to him and requested for a day off to report for orientation at AIB. Julio was happy for Carl and he obliged. The following day, Carl went to AIB where he met the owner and was hired. It's been a few months now and Carl is happy with his new job at AIB.When I asked Carl if he had ever imagined himself to be where he is today, he truthfully said that this feels like a dream because there was a time in his life where he thought he was never going to get a taste of freedom, that he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. With all the ups and downs he's experienced out here in terms of employment, he is grateful to be given the chance. When he was a dumb kid looking out to have fun he had never thought about his future. He was living day by day and each day his only thought was about what he could do or where he could go to have fun. He had no ambition, no drive, no vision. Education to him back then, was a waste of time. But all that has changed now. Today he is more focused on saving money and on how to improve himself in managing his finances to secure a better future for himself.In terms of Carl and his physical self, he knows there is still a lot for him to learn and discover. Sure, he has adapted and adjusted to living in society and has overcome his issues of being around crowds of people, but once in awhile when a trigger sets in, he would still find himself coiling inside. Carl is aware that he still needs to work on himself.Is he still wearing masks and playing different roles with different audiences? The answer is yes.Why does he continue doing that? For the very simple reason - to fit in and to be accepted.Carl has been wearing masks and playing roles for most of his life to the point where when I asked him a simple question, "Who is Carl Shuck?", he finds himself struggling with an answer. I first asked him this question 4 years ago and till today he hasn't found the answer because he is still struggling to find himself. This is a quest which no one can help him with. Until he can find himself, he will remain all that he's always been all his life - a put together person, faking his way to please others just so he would be accepted. Because of my close relationship with him, I can understand his fear of rejection but is that the way to live? True, people around him may not know about the roles he plays because he has mastered the art of wearing masks, but bottom line is, he knows. And behind closed doors, in the privacy of his own solitude, it's eating him up inside.Like I mentioned in my introduction of this blog, I am not writing this to belittle or bring shame to anyone. I am merely writing this as an example to serve as an eye-opener to motivate and inspire. What I've shared in this blog are true events that happened and is happening in Carl's life. I have no control over how you receive what I have written, but it is my hope that when you read it in entirety you would see the light in the dark and the positive in the negative.