First real job I’ve ever had. First everything, man. My priorities are so different now.
I went in when I was 25-26. I had made bad decisions. They weren't accidents. They were conscious decisions and I had to pay my consequences.
When you get faced with 15 years, your whole life flashes before your eyes. You hear your sentence, you do the math, and you’re like, “Man, it's over.”
But I was lucky. I had strong support. My wife stuck by me the whole time. I had three young kids and I knew I didn't have the time to waste. So everything I did in prison -- saving money, getting schooling, having a job inside -- was for when I got home.
While I was inside, I kept myself current. I stayed on the phone with my kids. I tried to stay in the now with my wife during visits. But coming home, it was so hard. I want to say now that it's over that it was easy, but it was the hardest time for me. I had been gone 12 and ½ years. My wife, she’s a champ. She made it look so good when I was inside. When I got out I was able to see how hard she was struggling. I saw I needed to put school on hold and get a job.
I started at a fencing company making $11 dollars an hour. A lot of people were like, “Damn that's good,” but I knew what I was worth. I knew I could do better. Then an opportunity opened up here at Dave's and I got the job.
It's a blessing to be working with Dave’s. It feels good to finally be in a position where your work and your attitude speaks for itself; it’s not about your past. I don't want to go back to when I was making bad choices. At Dave’s, the way I've changed is really being seen. It’s humbled me, knowing that my work just speaks for itself.
My daughters are 13 and 15 and my 18 year-old son is in college. They rely on me. They need to have a strong man in their lives. They need to see someone who is supporting their mother, someone that is a provider, someone who can give them sound discipline, someone who they can look at as an example.
My life now? It's beautiful. Things that some people consider normal, to me they are cherished. To be able to go to my daughter’s track meets for the first time and be a supporting parent. To hear her talk on the phone and say, “My dad is going to be there,” and to see the joy on her face. It brings a light to my life that is unexplainable.
Because of this job, I can provide for my family, with extra to spare. Man, it feels good to say that.