Letter to the Editor | Student submission

Dear sir or Madame;

I get ridiculed in class all the time. Whether it is a poorly hidden look or outright comment. I am fed up. But change doesn’t happen of its own accord. After all evil needs to thrive for good men to do nothing. I just figured that maybe if people realized that people’s life experiences are different and that words truly do have power, then maybe, just maybe people would stop and think before making fun of others plights.
I loathe eating out of dumpsters.

This is my story, my experiences, my life. Why am I writing this?  To be honest it’s for purely selfish reasons. I’m in college, and am on the verge of my family and I being homeless….again. And people being people the cruelty oozes out like some hate filled sack that just can’t contain the evil side of human nature. I let my classmates know my story, and the only consolation I got was a classmate advising me on which cardboard box would be best suited for the rain, followed of course by a snicker from other classmates. I just wanted someone to listen. So here I sit getting ready to poor the sadness and depression that comment made me feel on paper. But where does it stem from? Why did his comment affect me so much? I guess in order for me to figure that out I have to review my life….and perhaps by writing it all down someone else can learn something. What that is I don’t know….but for
now writing this is my way of getting my emotions down on paper rather
than getting upset.
When I was two years old my brother and I were adopted by a wonderful set of parents after we were taken out of our biological mother’s home due to abuse. They were kind, loving, and generous. But I suppose the psychological damage my brother and I suffered had already taken its toll. I don’t know why….I can’t even begin to explain the reason but my brother and I were rotten. We stole, lied, and were just all around evil children. I can never apologize too much for my actions. Yet despite all our horrid actions my adoptive parents never lost their love for us.
High school for me was a nightmare. We grew up in a tiny little town
in New Mexico. My brother and I were incessantly bullied and made fun of. I remember a time in elementary school, I was in class and …yes I was acting up and talking….but the teacher grabbed me threw me under the desk and placed his foot on top of me and made me stay that way for quite a long time. That was the beginning of my hardcore rebellion I suppose. Funny how something that seems like such a small thing can effect someone. Even to this day I remember the pain in my chest as the weight of the teachers’ foot pressed me into the ground, the horrible smiles on my classmates’ faces, the ridicule and embarrassment.  So all through elementary school and middle school and high school my brother and I were mercilessly bullied. I remember every instance vividly even still.
Well needless to say I dropped out of high school. But my mind by that time was ruined. I had no way of releasing any anger or depression in a constructive manner so I turned to drugs and crime. In one night I broke into the elementary school and the high school. I stole whatever I could. Then a few nights later I broke into the post office. I am most certainly not proud of what I had done. I was a messed up kid trying to express myself in a world that had shown me nothing but cruelty.
At the age of sixteen I ran away from home. I started hitchhiking, and did that for a couple of years. I hitchhiked from one end of the U.S. to the other and back again.  At some point I made my way to Klamath Falls, Oregon. I was about eighteen at the time and I was sleeping in a homeless shelter full of old F.T.R.A.  (Freight train riders association) a gang of train hobos (yeah sounds funny but definitely
not anyone you want to mess with). And me being only eighteen I was naturally hanging out with the only other teenager there.
As the days went by we got restless. Two homeless teens just looking for adventure. So one day we decided to ride the rails together. I can’t tell you how many times I almost (or rather probably should have) died. But God had other plans for me. He was the first true friend I ever had. We eventually met another guy. He was from Alaska and had plans to return. Well heck I was born in Alaska and we all three became good friends. Unfortunately the latest friend was heavy into smoking crack and his habit eventually migrated its way to me. I was so cracked outa my mind I don’t remember the town, but one night we found an abandoned cabin beneath a bridge ( I think it was in Oregon but I was so out of it in those days I can’t remember) and one of us had received quite a large sum of money from a relative. So of course rather than get food or shelter we bought crack. Here we were in an abandoned cabin smoking the living daylights out of crack. We smoked so much our lighters all went dead. So we went to a store and stole some candles and a lighter. We got back to the cabin and lit the candles and smoked even more crack. It was horrible.
One night after a crack binge we decided it was a great idea to try and make some money. But how? I don’t remember whose idea it was but for some reason our consensus was that it’d be a great idea to break into the police impound lot. So we grabbed another guy we knew and went to the cabin to plan (if you can call smoking crack and haphazardly slapping together a course of action planning). That night we scaled the fifteen foot tall fence into the impound lot.  We traversed the motion detectors and started opening the cars. After just a couple of minutes I’m lying on the ground trying to avoid the motion detector, crawling to this car to open it when I look up to see a cop car on the corner of the next street over. He was sitting there flashing his headlights….All of a sudden flood lights and headlights
illuminate the night. “Walk toward us….we have dogs” I hear an officer say on his blow horn. We head to a corner of the fence and start crawling up and over it. I turn to Robert and say “I’m going to
run….if I run will you?” I did not wait for a reply. As soon as I hit the ground I took off. I cleared a path through ten feet of thorn bushes with my face but the combo of adrenaline and crack made me not even care. Just an example of my many horrible acts.

I eventually wound up back in New Mexico and enrolled into T.V.I, the local community college. At the time my father had let me know that my mother was dying and he needed my help. So I returned home to care for my mother.  My father helped me get into T.V.I. and supported me. But me being the little brat I was screwed that up too. I ended up going to prison for burglary and arson. While in prison I experienced torture of a whole new breed. The minute I was behind bars I stopped being a human being. I had no rights other than the right to endure. Fights, rapes, killing….that was my days….wash rinse and repeat. I was raped by a guard and when I reported it the retaliation was swift and decisive. I was sent to Isolation, where the abuse continued. The ACLU would not hear me no matter how many letters I wrote them. No lawyer would hear me out either. Then came the “bowling for inmates” game.
The Correction Officers would suitcase an inmate (hog tied with arms and ankles behind your back) and would toss or “slide” you across the floor toward a wall. They tossed me really hard. The closed head injury they caused me made me suffer Hypothermia at first (the worst would come later). So they took me to the hospital were the docs put me in a “bear hug” (a blanket with warm air pumped through it). I suffered a heart attack in the process. Then I was transported back to solitary (Only this time it was the medical solitary…still not any better though). One day I woke up and tried to stand….my left side flopped around…I was left side paralyzed! The department of corrections paralyzed me! Of course no lawyer or the ACLU or anyone else would hear me. Now paralyzed the same CO that raped me saw an even better opportunity to play his sick games. He would have two other inmates carry me from my solitary cell in the back to a suicide watch cell in an even more isolated section and have his way with me till his heart was content. I made the mistake of reporting it… I wound up in the Penitentiary of New Mexico Super max. Just another reminder of my place. After months a case manager comes in and says to me “I have no idea why you’re here. Your file says you’re a level two minimum security inmate. I’m going to transfer you.” Better late than never I suppose. So I spent the remainder of my sentence at the medical center
in Las Lunas prison. While there the docs did numerous test and countless trips to the hospital. I was told that I would never walk again.
I was released from prison on august 8, 2008…8/8/8…the luckiest day and year according to Chinese religion. Here I was…walked into prison on my own two feet….rolled out in a wheelchair and told I’d never walk again.
I lived at Joy Junction homeless shelter for a while, and decided I needed to change. I found God while I was in prison and placed all my life at Gods feet.  I decided that God would direct me all my days from here on out. First step….relearn how to walk. I went through what I can only describe as the most intense pain imaginable for a year. It felt as though I had no skin or muscle on my feet. Like every step was straight bone on ground. God would not let me give up though.
I met my wife one day and my perspectives changed again…..for the better. She also believed in God, and when I realized I loved her I made her a promise. I promised her I would make it right.  She was
homeless as well so I had my work cut out for me. I enrolled into CNM (formerly TVI) and worked very hard.
I am now on the dean’s list, in the Phi Theta Kappa national honor society, and will graduate soon…..but a couple of hitches. I’m on section eight housing and the apartment I live in was found in violation by the Housing Authority. And I have nowhere to go. So here I am…after all this hard work to change myself, to be a productive member of society and I have fought and worked so hard for my family and it all might be for naught. I’ve already been turned down for jobs because of my felony, and now my family’s shelter is threatened….what to do? I honestly don’t know…..but hopefully now perhaps people will understand why the comment I heard today about what cardboard box to get for my family to sleep in hurt so much. Did writing this make me feel better? Yes ….it did. Can anything be learned from this?
Maybe….if you let it, it will teach you that people can change if given the chance. That everyone deserves an opportunity. And above all that words …whether said in jest or not….truly can affect people. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes, before saying something callous.
Be kind to one another.
Joe, CNM student

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