“I Don’t Want Any Trouble”

My father had worked as a Corrections Officer at Rikers Island for 20 years of his life. So from all of the stories that I heard, I had a pretty good idea of what an inmate is. There are some that are very bad people. People like murderers, rapists, so on and so forth. People that are not always meant for the outside world. But, there is another type of inmate. Some are normal people who made bad decisions in their life and now are paying the price by spending some time in prison. Then, they get out.

What do inmates do when they get out? Especially if they have no money, no job, no home, or no family. Well I had another experience on the subway. With an ex-felon. Now, I know it sounds pretty bad but here’s what happened.

A couple of days ago, I was taking the subway to Times Square for the first time (it seems like every time I am on the subway something interesting happens, but maybe it’s normal.)  During the ride, a man gets on. When the doors shut, he spoke (actually almost yelled) the following in a rather forceful voice: “*Ahem* Hi everyone, let me have your attention for a second. I was recently released from prison. I don’t have a home, I don’t have food, I smell. My life is terrible. If anyone has any change, or any food. I’ll be glad to take it. I have a few felonies on me, but I don’t want any trouble.” He then proceeded to walk around the train taking any offerings from the people. He actually got a pretty decent amount of money from the looks of it, which I found interesting. It seemed that people were more scared of him rather than genuinely willing to help, but that’s just my guess.

I, of course, did not give the man any money. I mean please… I’m a New Yorker.

This encounter was interesting because it gave me a glimpse into the world of what prison can do to a person. It seemed to have ruined this particular man’s life and I, for one, did not want to walk down that road. I don’t get very scared easily; but once I pictured myself in that man’s situation, I was pretty frightened.

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4 Responses to “I Don’t Want Any Trouble”

  1. Rishi Ajmera says:

    This is a great insight into how minor/brief events can have a strong impact on a person. Similarly, I look back at how a short encounter teaches me a great deal about myself.

  2. Yeuk San Shen says:

    It is hard to discern the “real” beggars from the “fake” ones. Though sometimes people have my sympathy, I was still hesitated to give them money simply because i was skeptical. How do you know if the things he told you is true or not? Like we talked in class, I was just being a typical New Yorker~

  3. chriswoo says:

    Yeah I find it really hard to tell whether or not beggars are telling the truth or not. I don’t want to sound mean, but I never give them money. I think it would be more beneficial to donate straight to charities that these beggars can go to if they truly need the help. This way you know your money is being spent well.

  4. John Scanlon says:

    It’s become a sad reality that we, the people, are no longer able to distinguish between who are the “real” beggars and who is trying to scam us for a few dollars. New Yorkers have developed a mentality that everyone who asks for money is a scam artist, and as a result innocent people, who actually need the money, suffer. I never give any of them money; however, I did once give a man my yogurt once. I felt that it was unlikely that he would go and sell my snack somewhere to make money off of me.

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