Sunday, March 25, 2018

When One of "Your Kids" is Locked Up

Since I've written Literally Unbelievable, I often get really uncomfortable with people thinking that I'm a really wonderful, caring, selfless person... all the time. I'm really not. I definitely love my students and former students, and I'm passionate about giving them a better chance at life, education... everything.

But of course, I'm still human. I still get frustrated with kids. I still get impatient and try not to yell and feel lazy, just like everyone else.

So I thought I'd share my process of making appointments to visit my former student, "Jorge," in prison. When I'm not in the process of making the appointment, I'm very excited to see him! I think about how wonderful it will be to catch up, how excited I am to be able to give his grandma the chance to see him, and what a relief it must be for him to get out of the cell and have visitors. I will admit, I do sometimes feel a little self-congratulatory and maybe grateful that I have the chance not only to see someone I care about, but also to maybe show the world how wonderful I am.

Then I have to make the appointment. Last time, I had to call over SEVENTY times before I could get through. This time, I made the appointments on the computer and had to make several different accounts before it can work, get photos of the IDs of everyone I'm bringing, make sure everything matched, wait while their website went down again... and again, and finally get the appointment confirmed.

Next, I did the math on the timing. The latest appointment I could get was 11:00 am, which means we all have to meet by 7 am at the latest. My wonderful friend Mitali is driving us and I'm picking up Jorge's grandmother, so I have to pick her up around 6:30 am. On a Saturday. I'll spend eight hours in a car on Saturday, and the rest of the time inside a prison.

At this point, it's pretty hard to be self-congratulatory because I kind of want to blow off the whole thing and sleep in on a Saturday instead.

Until I called Jorge's Abuela. Tenemos una cita para 7 abril. As soon as I told her that, I could hear, over the phone, her relief. She let out a long sigh and said, Gracias a Dios. Thanks be to God.

She raised this kid, to the best of her ability, for most of his life. She doesn't drive, she doesn't read and write, and she doesn't speak English. She has no control over when she can see Jorge. 

And suddenly... that four hours each way on the road didn't seem that horrible anymore.

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