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Second Chances

September 9, 2013

Trust; something that is earned with another through mutual experience, yet something that can be lost as quickly as vapor is whisked away by the wind on a cold winter morning. The dictionary defines it as “…an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Trust is fragile and once violated can usually not be regained; I’m a living example of just how this can happen.
I’ve related before about how I received a felony conviction in 1988; the crime for which I was convicted involved the violation of trust between a patient and the nursing and medical staff caring for that patient, in this particular case it resulted in the death of the patient and my eventual conviction and incarceration following that death. A once promising career in nursing and as a paramedic was ended; tragedy enough, but nothing compared with the pain suffered by the husband and children of the patient who’d died as a result of my inaction.

My life since then has led me into places I’d never thought to visit and encounter humankind’s ugliest side. There have been ample opportunities for me to ponder the choices I made that brought me to prison and to say I regret those choices would be the height of understatement. The pain I’ve caused others including my own family seems as fresh today as it did back in 1987 and 1988; something from my time in high school (my Senior English teacher would be amazed that I remembered this) seems particularly apropos from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:

“The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

No, all the regret and tears that I have experienced and expressed does not change anything about what I was convicted of doing; there is no defense for that act and all I can do now is find some solace in knowing that the person I was then is gone forever. But, many will not accept that and cannot or will not trust me. Whether potential employers (over 400 applications since I was released from prison with only two part-time positions resulting), places my wife and I tried to rent, and now as I seek to start a career in real estate, more hurdles and barriers are being erected.

As I’ve related in a Facebook posting following the Real Estate Commission’s decision to “defer” my application pending an appeal and interview with them, it is completely understandable for them to do this if for no other reason than for them to meet me ‘face-to-face’ so they can get a sense of the person I now am. Were they to judge me on the basis of what is online and in the public record, they would be justified in denying me outright; my hope and prayer is that they will look at the person I am not only by the words I may share with them, but the support of those who will accompany me some of whom have known me for many years and watched me change through those years. Sadly, some, having looked online at the record of my trial and conviction, no longer feel they can trust me or support me. It hurts that they would look at the person portrayed in that record rather than the person they know now, but that’s human nature it seems, to expect the worst from someone.

At this point I am not sure what will happen; I will be calling the Commission to ask for an appointment to speak with them regarding my application for licensure and hope to have some friends who will accompany me to that meeting. For those of you reading this I make the same plea that I will when I stand before the NC Real Estate Commission; look at the person I am now and judge me by your impressions of that man, not the one who stood in the court in Winston-Salem in 1988. My options at this time are severely limited; the part-time job is very seasonal and will not have work for me until February and my only other source of income is Social Security retirement which is nowhere near enough (as many can attest). I’m not asking for sympathy, just a chance.

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