September 12, 2022
EP. 336 — Pharmacy Technician to Welder
Getting arrested on New Year’s Eve was a blessing in disguise. A woman describes how working as a pharmacy tech led to pill addiction. She opens up to Geth about starting detox in prison and healing her relationship with her son. She also shares what it’s like welding “space crap” with lasers and what she’s learned in recovery about empathy.
336 — Pharmacy Technician to Welder
Chris [00:00:04] Hello to everybody with cool gear. It’s Beautiful/ Anonymous. One hour. One phone call. No names. No holds barred. Hi everybody. Chris Gethard here. Welcome to another episode of Beautiful/ Anonymous. I’m just going to get into it today. It’s nice to not be pluggin too much stuff. It’s not it’s nice to not have too much things to tell you guys about except for the fact that we’ve got a great episode. An episode that I have to say affected me greatly. An episode that ever since we recorded it, I’ve been sitting around thinking about it. I’m excited for you to hear it. This is real life. This is real life right here. Our caller, I don’t want to reveal too much, but uh caller has gone through some stuff. Hard stuff. Real life stuff. Types of stuff you read about in newspapers. But you also know somebody in your hometown or somebody you went to elementary school with who fell down this path. But what our caller has wound up doing now is unpredictable. Unbelievable. A testament to her strength. A testament to her resilience. And I have to say, it’s just one of the realest conversations I’ve ever had. And seven years in, keep, keep, I keep having these phone calls. Every once in a while I go, Man, my mind is blown that the world works the way it does. Now, with all that in mind, big time heads up before we start it, our conversation here is about drug addiction, suicide, a lot of stuff that some people might need a little bit of a heads up on before you dive right in. So if you or someone you know needs help, remember the suicide crisis hotline? You can dial nine, eight, eight. You can get to it right away. That being said, I hope everybody’s feeling good and I hope that everybody who is ready for this episode gets something out of it, because I think it’s a very beautiful and inspirational conversation. And I hope you get as much out of it as I did.
Voicemail Robot [00:02:27] Thank you for calling Beautiful/ Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
Caller [00:02:36] Hi. How you doing?
Chris [00:02:38] How am I doing?
Caller [00:02:39] Is this Chris?
Chris [00:02:40] Yeah, it’s Chris.
Caller [00:02:42] Oh, wow. Okay, I actually got you.
Chris [00:02:46] Yeah, we’re making it happen. We’re making it happen.
Caller [00:02:48] Yeah. Okay. So how you doing?
Chris [00:02:52] I’m in Scotland. Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m, like, ten days into the Fringe Festival here, performing and shows. Tonight’s show was the quietest reaction I got, so I’m a little in my head about that. Overall, I’m good. Mostly I just miss my wife and son. How are you?
Caller [00:03:14] I’m bored. It’s been pretty boring a couple of weeks. You know, I’m not working right now, so.
Chris [00:03:23] Okay.
Caller [00:03:23] Yeah. Yeah. I’m in between jobs. I took a couple weeks off before I start my new one.
Chris [00:03:33] And is that kind of the nature of the beast with you? Like, do you work in jobs where they wrap up and then you wait for the next one? Or is this is this rare?
Caller [00:03:40] I work in manufacturing. Welder by trade, aerospace, and I guess there’s a lot of crap going on with supply chain issues. And I got furloughed.
Chris [00:03:56] A welder? I’m talking to a welder?
Caller [00:03:58] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Chris [00:04:00] That’s cool.
Caller [00:04:01] Yeah. I weld aerospace crap.
Chris [00:04:05] Aerospace crap. Like rockets? And space shuttles? Satellites?
Caller [00:04:11] Stuff like tubing and fuel lines that will eventually different components that will eventually go in to gun parts, air space parts- I’m sorry- airplane parts, stuff like that, but mostly aerospace.
Chris [00:04:26] Oh aerospace. Aerospace means airplanes, not space shuttles. That’s how dumb I am.
Caller [00:04:31] Yeah. Yeah. I don’t think any of my parts ended up on a space shuttle yet. But who knows? I don’t think so. Just airplanes. And some gun parts, but mostly airplane stuff.
Chris [00:04:46] Gun parts. That must be a head- that must be a little bit of a mindfuck right now.
Caller [00:04:53] Uh it’s okay. I mean, you mean the work itself?
Chris [00:04:58] No, I mean working on guns in a stretch of human history where guns have become like a super divisive thing.
Caller [00:05:02] Oh, yeah I hate that part. Yeah. Knowing uh the first time I had to do it, I got this job, and they were like, okay, you’re gonna weld this. And I’m looking at it and like, okay, what is it? And they told me I was the shoulder shock for some kind of assault rifle. I was like, Oh, shit. Okay.
Chris [00:05:24] Jeez.
Caller [00:05:24] I’m like, you know, anti-gun. Can I get something else? And, you know, I don’t get paid for my opinion, so. I get paid to work.
Caller [00:05:31] Wow.
Chris [00:05:31] You got a good laugh, by the way.
Caller [00:05:34] Oh, thank you. Okay. Well, I try not to laugh, but I do when I get a little nervous, I guess. But yeah and so that with the whole supply issue, I got furloughed and, you know, I took some time off to just fuck around and do nothing and sleep in for next few weeks and got a job offer like a week afterwards. So I told him I need a few weeks off. And he said, okay.
Chris [00:06:02] And are you is this a are you in the unions?
Caller [00:06:06] No. No. Just work for private companies. Companies like Pratt, Whitney. I don’t know. I don’t know if you ever heard of that company. But yeah, I’m not a union welder. The type of welding I’m going to be doing in my next job is more traditional. When you do airplane- it sounds boring. So you don’t want to know-
Caller [00:06:30] No, it doesn’t. No, it doesn’t.
Caller [00:06:33] Well, yeah, I you know, airplane parts are done by laser, so it’s pretty boring just sitting at a table pressing a same button all night. I hated it. Oh god it was so awful.
Chris [00:06:44] Oh, got it. Oh, it’s pretty boring. You were just monitoring the lasers that manufacture the things that fly in the sky?
Caller [00:06:49] Basically.
Chris [00:06:51] That’s not boring. That’s like the most exciting thing I’ve ever heard. You work with lasers and things that fly.
Caller [00:07:00] Yeah, I guess. But knowing that, I guess when you think about it, the end result. But where I’m going next is more traditional. My hand is actually working with the material with a stick welder. So working on signs and whatnot. So that I love. Doing creative stuff like that. So getting laid off is kind of a good thing.
Chris [00:07:26] Do you come from a welding family? I know that that is a job that sometimes that stays within generations.
Caller [00:07:33] Um no. My family from started out in sharecropping in Alabama, Mississippi. Got into the mining business. I guess my granddad was a miner. Both of them. But me, no. I actually started out as a in health care.
Chris [00:07:54] In healthcare.
Caller [00:07:54] So I’m pretty new to this. Yeah.
Chris [00:07:57] How recent did you start welding?
Caller [00:08:01] Well, about five years ago, four years ago, maybe.
Chris [00:08:04] Your family history, your family really loves jobs that are, like, backbreaking, hard, huh? Sharecropping, mining, welding. It runs in your blood. Let’s find the thing that would physically break most people. That’s what this family does.
Caller [00:08:23] Yeah, I guess. I guess so. My dad, he was he worked in manufacturing. My grandparents, they on both sides worked in the coal mines in Alabama, did backbreaking work so that we wouldn’t have to. And I just, you know, I guess I said screw this health care crap. I want to get dirty.
Chris [00:08:46] What did you do in the health care world?
Caller [00:08:50] I work for nursing home pharmacies as a pharmacy tech and did some data entry. I also worked in banking too, loan processor and loan officer. So I did a little bit of everything, mostly white collar. But had to make a bit of a transition two years ago.
Chris [00:09:16] How come? Because that’s a- that is a- to go from like pharmacy tech to working in banks, fine jobs. How does one go from that and then five years later, you’re using lasers to weld airplane fuel lines? That’s- nobody saw that coming.
Caller [00:09:37] Well, yeah, I guess not. Especially my family. They’re like, you’re going to be what? I will be a welder, go to school for welding. Because, well, it started out because I got in a little bit of trouble working in the pharmacy, like a lot of people do. You know, got hooked on the pills.
Chris [00:09:57] Oh, you did personally?
Caller [00:09:58] And I got caught. Yeah. Yeah. Developed a bit of an issue with drugs and I got arrested, fortunately. And, you know, but as a result, you know, (UNCLEAR) selling jacket, you can’t really get too many well-paying jobs, if any. So yeah, so I was unemployed for a couple of years because no one wanted to hire me. So I had to, uh, rethink my future and like, okay, what I’m going to do, I got a kid I got to support, you know? So a friend of mine, he talked to me and he was like, you’re a smart kid. He told me about this class that was looking for women welders. It’s like, the hell do I know about welding? He’s like, that’s the point. They teach you. So I was like, okay, I’m not doing anything else. And that’s how, you know, it got started from there, I guess.
Chris [00:11:07] That’s a story. That’s a lot of life in a few years right there, huh?
Caller [00:11:14] Yeah. The addiction was a hell of a ride. Cuz, you know, I started when I was old enough to know better. But, you know, life happens and.
Chris [00:11:26] Sure.
Caller [00:11:26] Undiagnosed mental illness and whatnot, I guess. And I mean, at the end, I knew I had an issue. But, you know, it’s embarrassing. You don’t want to tell your family. They knew I had an issue, too, but they didn’t want to say anything. Like my family, it’s, you don’t talk about things like that.
Chris [00:11:47] Sure. Sure.
Caller [00:11:48] Just ignore it.
Chris [00:11:49] It it okay f I ask questions about that stretch or is it I can hear, you know, your voice slows down when you go there. It sounds like it’s still causes a lot of pain.
Caller [00:11:57] Yeah, no, no, no. It is emotional, but I’ve worked there a lot of in therapy, so, you know, it’s okay, I’m okay talking about it.
Chris [00:12:08] Because the my main question is because I’ll tell you what, I have a friend who did a very similar thing. He he signed up to be a delivery guy for a pharmacy. And he was he was pinching pills.
Caller [00:12:20] Yeah.
Chris [00:12:20] Good buddy of mine. But I have to imagine when you’re the pharmacy tech and it’s this era of American history, there’s probably also a lot of training on how to spot people who are giving you fake prescriptions, how to spot people who you think might be, you know, milking prescriptions out of shady doctors. I would have to imagine there’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through as a pharmacy tech specifically to watch out for the people trying to get their hands on those opiates, right?
Caller [00:12:48] Yeah, yeah. And mostly. Yes. And, you know, certainly if people want it, they’re going to find a way to get it. And when I first got hooked, it was way back when, you know, you could just walk up to any doctor and say hey, I need more percs and they’ll just say, okay, here. So it wasn’t in the era of now, you know, the way it is now, everyone’s aware of addiction and pills. It’s when I guess Purdue was like actively pushing it. And so I knew I knew better, but it started out I had a surgery and, you know, it’s like, okay, I don’t want to keep bugging my doctor for the pills, I just grabbed one off the shelf. One turned to two and then eventually it goes downhill from there.
Chris [00:13:50] Let’s pause right there, because that is sadly an all too common story. Right? I bet there’s other people out there like me going, I have friends who fell right into that same trap. And it’s very cool to talk to her about how she fell into it and also about how she’s doing now. Wait til you heard more about that when we get back. Thanks again to our advertisers. Now we go ahead and get back to the phone call.
Caller [00:14:18] One turned to two. And then eventually it goes downhill from there.
Chris [00:14:25] Yeah, I tell you, I, I just had first surgery I’ve ever had in my life. I just had a hernia surgery. I wake up, they go, Here’s some oxycodone. I got, thank you very much. Simple as that, huh? You just hand me…
Caller [00:14:38] Yeah.
Chris [00:14:39] Oxycodone and send me home with it. And then you tell me to go pick up another bottle of it on the way home. Now, I realized after that surgery that there was a real level of pain and it did help. And I also told myself, I think I took it for two days and then I said, the rest of this gotta go.
Caller [00:14:56] Yeah, it’s dangerous and especially if you have mental health issues and but fortunately I was uh when I got arrested because, you know, by then I already had lost my job. I lost my car. I lost my house. I lost everything. So I was like.
Chris [00:15:17] Oh wow.
Caller [00:15:18] Sleeping in an extra room with my brother. He had an extra room available so I was sleeping at his place. And so my job had already issued a warrant for my arrest because of what I did, and I didn’t want to turn myself in because I knew if I did, I would have to go through detox. Cold turkey. So I just kept avoiding it and running. And eventually I did get arrested and that was the best thing that happened to me. I mean, it’s still crappy that you criminalize addiction, but for the time that it happened, it could have been a lot worse. I was looking at I was looking at years in prison. And I got a good judge who understood, you know, I broke a lot of federal laws getting my pills so. But yeah. It happens.
Chris [00:16:19] It does. Too often. It drives me crazy. And that’s true. Let me tell you what, though, and this is going to I mean, I’m going to say this playfully, but I’m not- I wouldn’t say I’m joking. This is a story that we’ve all heard a lot. Most people, that ends with a heroin addiction and or death. You know what it doesn’t end with?
Caller [00:16:41] What?
Chris [00:16:42] Signing up for a program to train female welders.
Caller [00:16:49] Yeah. Yeah. I guess not.
Chris [00:16:51] Most people don’t become female welders of aerospace technology at the end of this story. So I’m glad that you’re one of the happy stories.
Caller [00:17:00] Yeah, it coulda definitely went the other way. Like I had never been arrested. Like, what happened was, like I said, I was running from the cops or whatever and had a warrant, had several warrants for my arrest. And and I was still doctor shopping at that point. And so I went to go and get some meds, some pills, where I normally get it and I screwed up and I forgot that I used it before. So I’m thinking that I’m going to get my prescription. And meanwhile what this chick did was call the cops like, yeah, she’s here. And so I was like, okay, I know why you’re here. Let’s go. And that first night it was hell. And, you know, I didn’t know what to do, who to call. I didn’t know, like, okay, what happens when you get arrested? What do they do to you? You know, I’m remembering the things that happen on TV. Like, okay, if I’m going to get (UNCLEAR) when I get there? And, you know, I’m in my cell at this point. I’m shaking my brains out and shit- Can I curse? Sorry.
Chris [00:18:21] Yes. Say whatever you want.
Caller [00:18:23] Yeah. I’m shitting my brains out and puking my brains out and my bunky, she knows what’s going on with me, and she is like, Hey, I got something for you. And I’m like, What? And I never saw drugs, street drugs in my life. And I was like, What is that? She told me what it was. It was heroin. I’d never touched it in my life. And I’m like, sick and in pain, and I just want it to go away. And I don’t know how, but somehow I found the strength to say, Yeah, I’m good. I’m gonna just rock this out. Cold turkey. And um.
Chris [00:19:06] Wow.
Caller [00:19:06] Yeah. And I’m like, the devil touched me that day. I’m not, you know, into church or anything like that, but that day, oh my God, she was right there and she was like, here, it’ll make you feel better.
Chris [00:19:21] And I mean, that is a moment that you can point at more clearly than than most people and you can say- I don’t I’m not going to say “the” because I don’t know your whole life, but you can say that is “a” turning point of your life, hands down, definitively. More than most people get that. You get that.
Caller [00:19:40] Yeah. And I. Any other day I probably would have said, yeah. I think. But for some reason that time I was like, I don’t, I’d just heard bad stories about heroin. And once you get on it, it’s hard to get off. And it’s just I’m like, okay. At least I’m just on pills. I’m gonna try stick this out for a week, feeling like shit. And I might feel better. And so I told her, nah. And the judge, she was like, If you can’t make bail in 30 days, you can go to program. And, you know, obviously my bail was like $250,000. I was like, Obviously, I can’t make it so I’ll see you in 30 days. And, you know, just like, no. They had a bed for me available and got my shit together. It was not easy, but yeah. Into the 30 day inpatient, you know the drill, 30 inpatient, aftercare, all that stuff. So I got my stuff together. My arrest happened on Christmas Eve? No. Sorry. New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve. Yeah.
Chris [00:21:13] Wow. And how old was your kid when all this was happening?
Caller [00:21:17] He was about 15 when it happened. 15/16 when the arrest happened. And by then he was with his dad because I was just not capable of taking care of him.
Chris [00:21:33] Wow.
Caller [00:21:33] And yeah so he was with his dad and I’m like, okay, I don’t have my son. I know my family’s done with this shit. So I’m in my cell by myself where I got arrested. It was a very small town, so they didn’t have cameras and whatnot. So I’m like, Yeah, I’m checking out. I’m done. So I attempted to hang myself. I took my shirt and tried to make it into a noose and um yeah so apparently I was too short to reach the top of the rail of the jail cell. So I couldn’t reach it. So, like, shit, I’m too damn short to try to kill myself. I can’t hang myself in here. So what’s next? And during my search, got down, they left my hair clip in, in my hair. So you know I try sharpening it like you see in the movies, trying to sharpen the shiv. And started sharpening it on the floor. And I got a good point on it, and I slashed my wrists. So eventually, I guess during the every 15 minute check they saw what the fuck I was doing and took me into the hospital.
Chris [00:23:02] Can I tell you something?
Caller [00:23:05] Okay.
Chris [00:23:06] First things first. I’m glad that I’m glad you’re alive. Secondly, I’ve been doing this show for over six years at this point, and you explaining that you tried to hang yourself, but then you realized you were too short for the cell and then you cackling like that how you’re doing again, I can say hands down, though, six years. Congrats to you. Darkest laugh. Darkest.
Caller [00:23:33] Yeah.
Chris [00:23:34] The darkest laugh that we’ve ever had in six years of doing the show.
Caller [00:23:39] I think sometimes I have to laugh at all the shit I did. You know.
Chris [00:23:43] What else can you do? What else can you do? You sit around feeling bad your whole life? No, you move forward. You got to laugh. At some point dark things need to become laughs if we’re going to be able to get out of bed in the morning.
Caller [00:23:57] Yeah. And I met a lot of interesting people who helped me along the way too, so um and I still have a- I don’t have many friends, but these people like who helped me through this journey and staying clean. And not just staying clean, but just becoming a functioning adult again, you know, helping me get back to school. Like that was like the one person who even told me about how, you know, just the fact that I’m now felon and it’s not the end of my life. And there are a lot of trades that are okay with your record. And but you have to go back to school for it. So I was like, okay, all right, you know, I have to do something different. But I actually like it. I like what I do.
Chris [00:24:53] Yeah, it sounds cool. And I got to ask. I got to ask… Just because it’ll be on my mind forever if I don’t, you came out of this, this is a beautiful thing and a beautiful story and you’ve landed on your feet. And I very much admire it. I have friends who did not make it out. I have friends who went the other way. And I’m very happy that you went the way you did. Do have to ask how your relationship is with your family now and especially your kid who was, you know, old enough to understand, old enough to- old enough to see how hard it is on you. Also old enough to comprehend how much they’re losing in that stretch by not having you there. So I bet that wasn’t easy.
Caller [00:25:40] No, my family didn’t trust me worth shit. You could not leave five dollars around without me finding it. I wouldn’t actively go stealing from them. But if I found it and then it was an emergency I would take it and keep it. My son, he didn’t talk to me for about two years stretch during his early teens because of it. And when the arrest happened, we were still not one no call. We would talk to each other maybe every other week, but it was like a forced conversation. And I didn’t want to force him, force it. I would try to just let him come to me when he was ready. And when- the biggest transition happened when he saw me go back to school. And I guess he is, he said that that was when he realized, okay, she’s really trying to do something different. And I didn’t think he would actually be there for my graduation. But he did show up. So yeah and he showed up at my graduation. And that was like the turning point when things got better. And now he lives with me. He lives with me full time. And he’s, you know, a full time college student. And he’s doing remarkably well considering everything he went through and that I put him through. Um, and a lot of it is because of his dad. His dad didn’t say a bad word about me.
Chris [00:27:28] Wow.
Caller [00:27:30] He was honest about what was going trough, but he didn’t denigrate me or anything to my son. But my son was angry. And he told me. He was like, Yeah, I was angry. That’s why I didn’t want to talk to you. But then every now and then, I still check up on him. Like, hey, you know, everything that you went through, like, yell at me, something. Like, you haven’t done that. Like. He had a lot of insight on it. He was like, I know that you were going through something that you- something you could control, but you couldn’t. And a lot of it was mental. So I wouldn’t make fun, you know, being angry with somebody who has cancer and they can’t help it. And. Yeah, but no. Now, my son and I are we’re tight. Any issue he has, he comes to mom first.
Chris [00:28:32] What was that last part?
Caller [00:28:35] Any issue he has, girl problems, you know, work related, he comes to mommy first.
Chris [00:28:41] I’ll tell you what, you want to know what I thought I heard and I’m glad I clarified?
Caller [00:28:46] What?
Chris [00:28:47] You said any issue he has. I thought you said when he needs to shake that ass he comes to mom first. And I was like, no. I can’t even begin to imagine what that entails.
Caller [00:29:01] No, no.
Chris [00:29:03] Any issue that he has.
Caller [00:29:06] He comes to Mommy first. Well, mom.
Chris [00:29:10] That’s so cool.
Caller [00:29:11] Yeah, he would not talk to me for a long time. And now I’m the one. So we’re back to- I won’t say normal mom son relationship because a lot of that bonding that happens, you know, being a disciplinarian, um, I was not there for that. His dad was. So it’s kind of, it’s weird how to explain the dynamics me and him have. Like, I’m his mom, he knows I am. He does respect me and he follows my rules. But it’s more of a laid back. I don’t know how to explain it.
Chris [00:29:57] Well it sounds like it landed someplace between, like, a traditional parent child relationship and a friendship?
Caller [00:30:03] Almost yeah. Because when I came back to his life, he was almost an adult by then. So who am I to come in and start punishing you for shit you do right now?
Chris [00:30:15] And when you’re an adult who has had to keep distance from a relationship, that means that when you when the relationship rekindles, it’s because you are opting back in, and he’s choosing it. And in a way that’s extremely special. And I wouldn’t wish what happened with your relationship upon any parent or more importantly, child, but that moment when he chooses to reestablish that and chooses to let you back in and chooses to have these moments where he can come to you, each one of those must feel extremely special to you.
Caller [00:30:47] It does. It does. Like he had a bit of a mental health crisis earlier this year, and I was the first person he called. Because he knew that I- even if I couldn’t understand specifically what he was going through, that I got it. And I wasn’t gonna judge him.
Chris [00:31:10] And that’s huge, right? You’ve been through a bunch of stuff where you’re not going to judge anybody for anything. And that that’s a weapon as a human, as an empathetic human moving forward, that’s that’s something that you have that a lot of other people don’t have.
Caller [00:31:25] And it wasn’t always like that, though. Because before my addiction, I didn’t understand it. I was like, You just quit. Well, because my mom- I come from a whole family of alcoholics. And, you know, my mom, my dad and my brothers, all alcohol. I hate alcohol. So I didn’t understand, like, just put the bottle down. It tastes gross. Why are you drinking it? It makes you feel like shit. And I didn’t understand until it was my turn to have an addiction in my early thirties. So. But I get it now and it’s unfortunate it took me to go through it to get sympathy for people like that.
Chris [00:32:08] Sure, sure. And kudos to your your kid’s dad, huh? I hope that I hope you guys are able to maintain something because, I mean, you’ll always be connected via him. But it also sounds like he took a deep breath and in a stretch where it probably would have felt good for him to be venting everything, he chose to be classy and not do that in front of your kid. And it allowed you a pathway back in. Like that’s, that’s pretty cool.
Caller [00:32:42] He was there because, you know, you always hear the stereotype. You know, the single mom and dad’s not around and he was not that at all. He stepped up. And he’s a he’s a horrible, shitty partner, but he’s an amazing father.
Chris [00:33:02] Let’s pause there. That’s a very realistic look at a relationship. Very realistic look. You know what? Now we’re going to take a realistic look at some products and services that might enrich your life. Check out our advertisers. We’ll be right back. Thank you again to all of our advertisers. And now we’re going to finish off the phone call.
Caller [00:33:29] He’s a he’s a horrible a shitty partner, but he’s an amazing father. So.
Chris [00:33:35] Yeah, I’m sure. I imagine him listening to this stuff, they’d be like, I’m a shit- wha- you- you- you fell into the depths of addiction. I’m the shitty partner? But you’re allowed to be a shitty partner if you’re on the other side of it, too.
Caller [00:33:54] I told him before, like, yeah, you’re shitty partner, but you’re an amazing dad. So I really lucked out.
Chris [00:34:02] That’s cool. It’s weird. It’s a weird thing to say because it indicates pain and it indicates a relationship that didn’t work out. But when your kid’s around, you’d probably go, Wow, if you’re this good a dad, I can keep some distance and accept that you were a shitty partner just to keep you being a good dad, right?
Caller [00:34:20] Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, it didn’t work out between me and him, but, you know, we got a really cool kid out of it. So. I took him to get his first tattoo last weekend, so.
Chris [00:34:37] Oh wow.
Caller [00:34:37] Yeah. Yeah. He was like, yeah. So I guess I’m more like a hybrid between, I guess, an aunt and a mom, I guess.
Chris [00:34:45] Yeah. Yeah.
Caller [00:34:46] Something like that, I guess. So.
Chris [00:34:49] How’d the tattoo come out? Were you psyched on it?
Caller [00:34:51] I didn’t want him to get it, but I told him, I say, if you are- I’m going to be a hypocrite if I tell you not to do it, because I got ’em, but if you are, you know, I’m just going to show you how to do it the right way. Don’t go to your friend’s basement.
Chris [00:35:05] Yeah.
Caller [00:35:05] You know, make sure you look at the portfolio. And no, it came out really good. So he uh got one for my mom. Her name. She passed away some time ago.
Chris [00:35:20] Oh, I’m sorry.
Caller [00:35:22] You know, that was actually the one regret I do have. She didn’t give me the- she didn’t get to see how I am now. But where she is, whatever energy she’s in, I’m sure she’s looking at me, watching out.
Chris [00:35:33] She’s watching you weld jets and guns. She’s like, Oh, my goodness. Who would have thought this turnaround?
Caller [00:35:45] No, I know. Like, it’s weird. And it just this journey just taught me empathy and understanding.
Chris [00:35:58] Can I ask you question that’s a- oh, no. Finish that thought. Here you are talking about empathy and understanding and I interrupt like a fucking asshole. Finish the thought.
Caller [00:36:04] Oh, oh, no, no. Go ahead.
Chris [00:36:06] No, please. I want to hear more about empathy and understanding.
Caller [00:36:10] Oh, no. I was just saying, you know, a lot of people who I normally judge on the surface and never have anything to do with them, like they’re like some of my closest friends now. But if I had met them 15, 20 years ago, it’s like, I don’t want to talk to you. Like I have not- don’t want anything to do with you. But yeah, that’s what this recovery has taught me. Empathy.
Chris [00:36:36] Yeah. Now I’m going to ask you a question that’s almost flies in the face of that. It’s almost the opposite. No, I’m kidding. That’s like a jokey question. But I’m also genuinely interested in the answer. So you’re a convict. You’re recovering.
Caller [00:36:53] Yes.
Chris [00:36:53] You you’ve stabilized. But things aren’t, you know. You’re on the bounce back, so things aren’t at their worst, but they’re far away from their best. Someone says to you, I found out about a program where they’re trying to train female welders, and now you’ve signed up and it’s worked out. It sounds like you get to do some cool stuff. But there has to be a part of you entering it going like, okay, so I, I was stealing pills. I was an addict. Who. Who are the rest of these people signing up for this female welding class?
Caller [00:37:27] Huh. Honestly, I didn’t have that question. It never crossed my mind when I was applying for it. I just knew I had to do something different with my life. And most of the other women there, unfortunately, were there because they were ordered. You know, they were going through the system like I just recently went through. So to get their kid back, they had to prove that they were in school or something. There are a few who honestly wanted to be there like I did, but fortunately a lot of them were mandated to be there. So the class environment wasn’t the best.
Chris [00:38:09] I’m sorry to laugh.
Caller [00:38:14] Yeah, you get a bunch of women together who’ve got mental issues and they’re dealing with their own shit. I mean, fights are going to break out. And they did.
Chris [00:38:30] At the court ordered welding class. But is there anyone who is just like, Oh, I just read about this and I think it would be cool to know how to weld? Who is just like a totally straitlaced or no? Like you’re not even finding out about this program if that’s the case.
Caller [00:38:41] There were a couple girls there. Their boyfriends, I guess, were welders, and they wanted to get into it also. And they used that. So we our class actually wasn’t filled with convicts. It was some with a record, some without a record. So it was just a way to get into the industry. So yeah, we did have a couple actually. And they did end up getting really good union jobs from what I heard. So it did work out. And.
Chris [00:39:12] I mean, they have an amazing story, right? That was- those ones are sitting around there like, how did you get into welding? It’s like, well, you know, really the only class available was this place where there were people stopping class halfway through to get in fistfights. A lot of mentally unwell people who were sometimes addicts, sometimes criminals, all of them court ordered to be there. And me! And me.
Caller [00:39:37] Yeah. Yeah. And I it was a really interesting year, that that period. I was just learning so much stuff and I was like, at the end of it, it’s going to be even worth it. Like they’re telling me I’ll be able to find a job. But I applied to get a job to scrub toilets and pick up trash outside of McDonald’s. I was told no.
Chris [00:40:10] Yeah. Yeah.
Caller [00:40:11] So they won’t hire me. Who in the hell is going to hire me to, you know, build parts that go on airplanes, so, you know, it’s just fucked up how our society look at criminals. Well, but that’s America. But that’s a whole another issue.
Chris [00:40:31] Well, no, I’m with you. Let me just get it on record that I’m with you. That people are allowed to make mistakes and people are allowed to try to build their way back. And there certainly should be consequences for people’s actions. But if you just sit here and you go, and in my opinion, the people who are the hardest on law and order, you did the crime, you serve the time, also tend to be the people who go, and when you get out, I don’t want to think about- I don’t want you living in my neighborhood, and I don’t want to think about you- I don’t want to think about this. And meanwhile, you know, some of the silent heroes of the stories like here, there is somebody out there who realized at some point, oh, there’s there’s a lack of female welders. This is an industry without diversity. There’s what the job is, what the equipment needed is, what’s entailed, there’s no reason for that. There’s somebody who clearly spent a lot of time going, how can I- how can I build and prepare this program for female convicts to learn a job skill in an industry where they can get hired as as an ex-con? And that’s traditionally male where we can break down that wall and there will be this- There is some hero somewhere in that story who realized that that was a thing, and built that program. And I bet that person has one of the loneliest, hardest lives trying to get stuff like that off the ground, because we have a caste system in this country. And once you go to prison, you are part of a caste that is an untouchable caste. And I certainly think there’s you know, there’s certainly people who repeat crimes over and over again. But we don’t make it easy not to either. If you want to find your way out of that life, we don’t make it easy. If you apply for a job picking up trash by McDonald’s and you get told no, I have to imagine there’s also temptation for a lot of people at that point to go, well, I have to buy food and diapers, so maybe I should do something illegal because that’s the option I have if I want to eat and if I want my kid to have diapers. You know?
Caller [00:42:39] That was where I was. And no one is like and I guess you could say it’s a success story. I don’t know. But occasionally when it’s time to- especially when I first when I initially graduated and I land on my feed, got a job, started saving money, and I was asked to say a couple words to the people that control the purse strings. In my first job out of class, my boss brought some people through to show what they were doing with the money that the program gave up. And one of the guys from the bank pulled me aside was talking to me and I mentioned actually what you said. And I told him, I said, you know, anyone getting out of prison, they have to go somewhere. So do you want me to go back to school and learn a decent trade where I don’t have to rely on welfare anymore? Or do you want to just have me released back out and I’m plotting how to rob you because I can’t get a job anywhere. Which one do you want? Because it has to be one or the other. And he was like, Yeah, you’re right. You don’t make they don’t make it easy. I’m not saying that it should be easy either, because, you know, you do have a lot of people who abuse the system. But just the way that we treat records here, like and like I have a really good friend and- I’m not even sure if I should discuss this story but it’s anonymous. Yeah, I have a good friend who was in a similar situation as I was. He has a record. He did his time. He does admit that what he did was wrong, but he did his time and he wants to just become a productive citizen. And he’s just worried that finding work is going to be an uphill battle. And it is. But, you know, it’s just fortunately, we both of us work in the trade where they do turn the other way when it comes to records. So.
Chris [00:45:12] But it shouldn’t have to be. And it’s also, you know… You look at it and you go… There has to be redemption. There has to be room for redemption in this society or else the idea that we’re going to put you in prison is not rehabilitation. If we don’t, you know, and then you think about it and you go, there’s still so many places where felons are not allowed to vote.
Caller [00:45:41] My friend is not allowed to vote.
Chris [00:45:43] Okay, so that’s one vote in a pool of hundreds of millions of votes. Does it really matter? And you go, yeah, it does because that person is being sent a very explicit message of you don’t care to participate fully in society. And that’s a really sad thing to carry mentally. There’s certain jobs that have a right to never hire you again. You don’t get to vote. It’s a scarlet letter that’s going to carry you around and… All for situations where people did things that I’m certain the large majority of them wish that they never fell into and wish that they could take back. And you get things particularly like, you know, it’s one thing to say like, well, I shouldn’t have to hire a serial killer if they get out of prison. You go, okay. But that’s not the majority of people. The majority of people are people who get in there and go, it was addiction. Or, you know, you look at stuff like addiction, you look at stuff like sex work, you look at these things that are, you know, oftentimes tied together, and you go, there are people who are criminals, sure, but they are just as much victims in the sense of how much money did those families make on those opiate pills, you know, on those opiate companies, these pill mills, doctors who were just handing out pill mills, handing out prescriptions left and right. They’re aware that people are dying. That runs right up $1,000,000,000 corporate chain. That’s- they are aware, hey, there’s a lot of these pills being passed around that shouldn’t be passed around. And people are getting addicted and it’s leading to heroin, it’s leading to fentanyl, it’s leading to people dying. It’s leading to people in prison. You know, you think about people who fall into addiction because of that. You think about sex workers getting arrested who have that scarlet letter on them. And you sit here and you go, I bet that a lot of these people were suffering from addiction or they got trafficked or they are victims of abuse and we’re not doing anything to help them sort out all the stuff that surrounds that. But you can ever vote again and no one’s ever going to hire you again. Well, what options does that give someone financially and what message does that send to somebody mentally and emotionally and self-esteem wise? It’s not.
Caller [00:47:55] Exactly.
Chris [00:47:56] Right. It’s just not empathetic or kind or right to do. And again, I don’t want to get on a political high horse. I rarely do on this show. But I will say, anybody who, you know, I grew up I grew up Catholic and anybody who claims, you know, they’re Christian, but then is also a hard liner about situations like this, I go, I’ve had enough of the Bible to know that Jesus he was he was friends with the the castaways of his day. He was friends with the sex worker. Jesus would have been hanging out with people under under the bridge, looking to buy, you know, see if they can find some percocets. That’s who he would have been there with. And a lot of the people who scream about that stuff are are the ones who are the biggest hard liners of, well, now they’re out and I don’t ever want to see or think about or hear from those people again. In my opinion.
Caller [00:48:46] And they and I know that your show has all kind of listeners, and I’m sure there are going to be some people who are listening to my experience and say, okay, well, see, there is no excuse. She was able to make it. But it was just because I happen to live in a very lib- well, I don’t want to say very liberal, but a pretty liberal state, who understands the issue of addiction. But if I lived somewhere else in another, more conservative state, I probably would still be locked up right now. And once I got out, there were hardly any educational opportunities to gear me towards this kind of work. And so I’m just lucky. I mean, lucky and hardwork on my part, but a lot of it, look, like, where do you live? All right. You live in this state, you’re going to get fucked over. In this state, you’re going to get the help you need. And like, I don’t want to, like I said, I don’t want to turn it political, but I don’t believe in the Bible. I think it’s a book that was made up by men and to make themselves feel better. But if that’s what you want to believe, go ahead. But if you really believe what you read in that book, that book tells you you are supposed to support people and love people who are like me, not shun me.
Chris [00:50:12] Yeah. And I looked out and the thing and the thing is, you know, as you and I both have this caveat, I don’t want to get political and we don’t. But it’s real street level. It’s not it’s not political when there’s so many people living some version of it, you know? You live wherever you live and you went through it and made it out. And I’ve mentioned on the show many times, I have not one, but two very close childhood friends who died because they went down the exact opiate to heroin route. And I’m a pretty cheesy white guy with my- I’m an artist with my head in the clouds, and I have two personal friends who passed away young from it. It’s like it’s not political when it when it gets to a point where I feel like you participating families, you put ten families in a room in America these days, and I bet you can’t have… If everybody’s being honest, I bet you’re not going to find ten, ten families in a room where one of them hasn’t dealt with some version of this addiction that leads right back to these types of pills. That’s how to me, it’s not political. Because politicians it’s their job is to help us and they’re not doing that. So me and you just need to speak honestly about the ways that people can get out here and help themselves. Some of it is calling out, you know, speaking truth to this power, which is if you want to start a big war on drugs, okay, but then you better have all sorts of systems in place to help the people get out of it or else it’s just a perpetual war on drugs. Congrats. You’re fighting a tough fight. You’re tough. You fight wars. Great. But hope it helps you at election season.
Caller [00:51:51] Yeah. And that’s why I whenever the organization that did help me, you know, occasionally they’ll ask me to come in and give my side of the story and talk. And I’ll drop whatever I’m doing. I don’t care if I have to work, I’ll go and say whatever I can, because it is important to have these kind of programs available. They saved my life. You know I have- I’m finan- like, you know, I could barely, only about five years ago, barely afford to scrape together bus fare. And I’m sneaking on so I can go and get my pills. So. And that’s only five years ago. And fast forward to today, I have enough money in the bank where a layoff isn’t scaring me, and I can take some time off and just fuck around. And I’m looking to buy a house.
Chris [00:52:48] I love that. I love that. That’s the system working.
Caller [00:52:52] Yeah, when it does work. But, you know, when you got people who are actively trying to defund this stuff. It’s shitty.
Chris [00:53:03] Yeah. Well, when people go, it’s simple, you know, it’s also a simple thing to when you hear somebody go, well, why would we allocate all this money for criminals? And it’s like, you kind of want to whisper, like, so they don’t rob your house. You know what I mean? You want to teach somebody a job skill? They’ll probably go get a job. You want to tell somebody they’re not allowed to vote and they can’t get hired? Well, then at some point, that person is going to be hungry enough to put a brick through a window. And it might be your window they need to sneak into to get the cash for the food, for the drugs, for whatever, to ease the pain. So I’m with you. Can’t believe you got such a good laugh when you’ve been through all this stuff.
Caller [00:53:45] Um I still, I I shed a few tears. You probably didn’t hear it. But it’s, you know, the way I still try to look at it is, even with this whole getting laid off, um if this is the worst I’m doing right now, still doing pretty good. Because at least I’m here telling this story because so many people aren’t. And didn’t make it.
Chris [00:54:11] What kind of. What is the other? Can I ask, what’s the, the women who came out of your program, do you know what kind of stuff they’re welding? Is it all stuff like yours? Are there other trades? Like, were there other hey, it could be welding or it could be x, y or z instead. Like what? What are the other equivalent things out there?
Caller [00:54:26] I still talk to one of the instructors and he is in a union. That’s where I learned how to do it, through a local union hall. And he said like a few of them went down to do- we live near a submarine base, and I think a couple of them tried to get in there. So they’re welding a submarine.
Chris [00:54:50] Submarine parts? So cool.
Caller [00:54:51] Yeah, just some sub base down by the coast. And but some of them, I think one of them got into like the pipe setters. I’m still not even quite sure what a pipe setter is. I think it has to do with boilers. But for the most part they either got into some type of adjacent field in manufacturing or those who weren’t really into it to begin with probably just finished it up and kept on their way. But there are a lot of women, though, who did finish it, who did do what I did and used the program the right way. And those were generally the women who went in there voluntarily. Like when you get forced into it, you usually don’t do what you’re supposed to do with it. But that was, you know, that was the only chance I had to get back to a normal life so, you know, had to take it and run with it. Um, I met some really cool people along the way and a couple people, you know, in this kind of- in recovery, I try not to make too many friends cause overdosing and relapsing happens a lot. And I didn’t want to get call after call saying so-and-so died, so-and-so died. And I and I still do occasionally, like, I’m out and about, I’ll see someone who I was in rehab with. You know, I’m still out in the streets and chit chat with them a little bit. Give them a ride to work if they gotta go and, you know hope that they get ready- get the help when they’re ready, you know? But I do try to keep my friend groups pretty small. And they get me through a lot of hard times too, because it is still not easy.
Chris [00:56:55] Of course.
Caller [00:56:56] You know, life still happens. And my- I’m dealing with my brother almost dying right now. And that is my trigger. That’s my trigger, death. That’s what caused this whole road to addiction when my sister died. My mom died, and I started using pills to numb it. Now, I got to go through this sober. So I, the couple of friends I do have who are addicts and they’re sober, they get me through a lot of hard shit. And they know who they are. So, and I love them for it.
Chris [00:57:39] That’s a hell of a story.
Caller [00:57:41] Yeah. And, yeah, I try to keep myself busy right now. Just want to be, like I said, I just want to be a normal, productive person. And when you have that felon jacket, it’s not easy. There’s a lot of shit you can’t do. Like, I want to travel.
Chris [00:58:02] Oh, right. You can’t leave the country.
Caller [00:58:05] I think if I do have to like get permission or some shit like that. I’m not sure how it works, but I want to. I know one place I did want to go to, but I know I can’t. I wanted to go to Canada. I wanted to go to Toronto so bad. But I’m not allowed to.
Chris [00:58:21] That’s not even a big ask. That’s not even- Listen, no offense to all our Canadian listeners. I love you. But you’re in America. You’re not. It’s not like you’re dreaming big to go to Canada. We share a border. I thought you were going to be like, I know one place I want to go. Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to see it. It looks so cool in movies. Or I want to go down to the southern tip of Chile and see if I can get a boat to Antarctica. No, you just want to go to Canada. It’s right there.
Caller [00:58:46] Yeah. Yeah. It’s like a two hour drive from me, I think.
Chris [00:58:49] Two hour drive?
Caller [00:58:52] Yeah, I’m in the Northeastern Connecticut, so, and I don’t think I’m allowed if I what I was told correctly. And I wanted something to do these three weeks and so this is going to be a hell of a try to get in. So, yeah, I’m just supposed to be going- I’m not- I’m supposed to be watching the this whole meteor shower thing that’s happening this month.
Chris [00:59:20] I have no idea. I’m not seeing nature’s miracles. What do I know?
Caller [00:59:25] Yeah.
Chris [00:59:27] Another one of nature’s miracles I’m not up on.
Caller [00:59:30] Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, I needed stuff to try and occupy my vacation. And I honestly thought I was going to be out, you know, traveling, going to the beach. I never been to the beach in my life. I was like, I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that. Like, what the hell am I doing? Then I’m, you know, got my TV on mute watching Judge Jerry.
Chris [00:59:53] Yeah.
Caller [00:59:53] So I got one week left of my vacation. I got to figure out some shit to do.
Chris [00:59:58] Yeah. Go do something cool. Make the best of it. Every day.
Caller [01:00:02] I got money in the bank. I can basically do something that, you know, that I couldn’t do financially a couple of years ago. So what should I do? I don’t know.
Chris [01:00:15] I tell you what, I’m glad you’re not a few inches taller.
Caller [01:00:20] Why?
Chris [01:00:21] Because you wouldn’t be here.
Caller [01:00:22] Oh, yeah? Yeah, I forgot about that. Yeah. I wouldn’t. Yeah. Okay, good callback.
Chris [01:00:30] To the most inappropriate laugh in the history of this show.
Caller [01:00:34] Well, I know some people are like, how can you laugh about it? Right. Because if, what, you want me to sit here and bawl my eyes out? No. (UNCLEAR) I’d slit my wrists.
Chris [01:00:43] What do you do? When people say that you- What do you do? You think about your truth and reality all the time? I don’t. You want me to sit and think about the actual reality of who I am and what this world is? Yeah, no, thanks. We better start making some jokes fast.
Caller [01:00:59] Yeah. I mean, there are times when I sit in my room by myself that I, like, the shit I put people through, I will just bawl my eyes out. But I can’t do that every time I talk about what happened. It’s not healthy.
Chris [01:01:16] Yeah. No, no. We have about 2 minutes left. I got to tell you, I loved your story, and I love where you’re at. I’m sorry that you’re furloughed right now, but it sounds like you’re going to bounce back. And I’m glad that you and your kid have this friendship. I’m inspired by that as a parent. And.
Caller [01:01:38] Yeah, I love the man.
Chris [01:01:40] You know what else, too? I bet there’s a lot of people listening right now. Maybe they’re in the middle of addiction or they got a family member who keeps falling into it who’s been, you know, they’re just about at the end of the rope, and then they’re listening to you and they’re going, Oh, here’s somebody who actually found a pathway out. I bet it’s going to inspire a lot of people.
Caller [01:01:58] I hope so. I’m just one person but, you know, if I’ve made it, it’s possible. I can’t believe an hour passed by this fast. Wow. I’m glad that I was able to finally get through.
Chris [01:02:12] Yeah, me too. And do you- you wear like one of the big welding masks? You get one of the masks?
Caller [01:02:18] Yeah, I have a welding hood, and I also have welding glasses. They look like tactical shades.
Chris [01:02:26] And like the big ass thick ass gloves. Like all that cool as welding gear?
Caller [01:02:30] Yeah. Yeah, it gets hot under there. It’s hot. Yeah.
Chris [01:02:35] I romanticize I romanticize the working class because I think I grew up around a lot of people who were working class. And my family’s roots are there. And there’s a part of me that wishes I had a job where I had to wear big ass protective gear. But I also know I would not be able to hack it.
Caller [01:02:53] Yeah it’s a art to it. You either got it or you don’t. And I am not the greatest. But I’m not the worst. I don’t think, so.
Chris [01:03:00] Yeah, I would get laughed out of the room. I would. I would not graduate the women’s welding class. I feel like they’d be like, Buddy, it’s not for you. All the equipment’s too heavy. And there’s a lot of stuff that you could- that’s dangerous. You could burn down a place. Just sparks here. This is. This one’s not for you, buddy. I’d be at best, the fire watcher in the crew.
Caller [01:03:21] Yeah, it is a pretty dangerous job, but somebody has to do it, right? Let the girls try.
Chris [01:03:28] You found it. I’m glad you- Yeah. Hell, yeah. I love it.
Caller [01:03:32] Yeah. Well, it was nice talking to you.
Chris [01:03:36] It was lovely. I feel very inspired. I feel very happy. And I’m so, so glad that you made it through all that stuff. Sincerely.
Caller [01:03:42] One day at a time, right?
Chris [01:03:48] Caller, Thank you so much. Sincerely, I feel so inspired right now. I felt positive and inspired. And I’m sorry you went through everything you did, but I’m so grateful that you’re here to tell us about it. I have a feeling there’s a lot of people out there who are going to feel very, very inspired, very positive by what you’ve shared today. This show is produced by Anita Flores. It’s engineered by Ryan Connor. Our theme song is by the almighty ShellShag. Go Support ShellShag everybody. A big part of this show from the start. Go to ChrisGeth.com if you want to know more about me. Whenever you’re listening, you can hit subscribe, favorite, follow. It really helps when you do it. You can find our merch over at PodSwag.com. There’s shirts and posters and mugs, all kinds of stuff. And if you want your episodes of Beautiful/Anonymous ad free, you want to check out Stitcher premium. That’s Stitcher.com/premium. If you use the promo code “stories”, you get one month free.
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