Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why the Seal?

Most of my people are apologetic in one way or another. The few who aren't are the most fun - they are the idiots who pitch a fit at the thought that they might somehow be in the wrong. Its actually pretty easy to deal with those folk. I can normally flame hotter and longer than they can. Its a great way for me to release some stress and frustration.

Those die-hards are definitely in the minority. The majority of my people are passively manipulative and say whatever they think you want to hear. A lot of the time they are genuinely sorry, but they are sorry they got caught, not because they did something wrong. Most people expect that if they say they are sorry, that makes everything ok. Their lives cycle through a process of committing evils of various sorts, getting caught and punished, apologizing and going right back to the same behavior. The apology is a magical incantation that cleanses the karmic record and frees them to start the whole process over again.

Then I have a few contritionists who have truely repented.

In the last thirteen years I have had three sex offenders whom I think fell into this category. I talked to one of them this week, before I made that seal. I'll call him Harry.

Harry committed a sexual assault almost 10 years ago. His victim was an adult and drugs and alcohol played a big part in the offense. He was given probation and he completed it about 9 months ago. He is still on probation for a hit and run that happened a year or two after the sex offense. Harry has been through lots of counseling and made some significant changes in his life.

Harry is married with several teenage and grown kids/stepkids. He has a high school diploma and is fairly personable and articulate. He has some construction skills, but nothing particularly special. He has always worked low paying jobs and struggled to get by.

About six months ago, he got a job as a delivery driver for a high-end furniture company. Within a month he'd been promoted to manager of their warehouse. Harry was making more money than he'd ever made. He worked hard and was noticed and rewarded for it. Customers regularly called and thanked the owners for how well they were treated by the Harry and his drivers. They always went the extra mile. The store owners did the right thing and told the employees how much they appreciated them and paid them more money. Harry has been excited and animated everytime I've seen him in the last few months. He had a real future with the company and he was proud of his job and his progress.

Until someone called the boss.

An anonymous caller alerted the owners that Harry is a registered sex offender, complete with a photo on the state sex offender database website. Before the owners even talked to Harry about it, they consulted their attorney and asked what kind of liability they had in the situation and what could be done to keep Harry.

The attorney's answer was that nothing could be done for Harry and they had to drop him like a hot potato. The boss then called Harry in and apologized profusely before firing him. They gave him a month's severance pay (which is unheard of here) and promised him glowing recommendations for all his future endeavors.

Harry came to see me in tears. He is genuinely repentant about his offenses. He has changed his behavior. He is a different person now. He is sincere and wants to live a better life as a better person.

But he can't escape the consequences.


annie said...

Oh Rachel, this story makes me very sad, because there is no neat and tidy solution to the problem.

Trace said...

How very sad. How difficult a situation for "Harry" and anyone involved with him. What does a person do? What can they do?

Cowtown Pattie said...

Sounds like someone had it in for Harry. Small town snoops with high speed internet connections can fell Goliath with a single click.

see-through faith said...


Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

Consequences can suck big time. At least the boss tried.

SpookyRach said...

You are right, annie - there is no neat solution. This man has severely victimized a fellow human being. Who can say when that debt has been paid? Is it ever paid?

And does forgiveness mean there are no more consequences?

ppolarbear said...

The tough questions for me are: what, we want our released prisoners to NOT work and live off the public dole? This guy is trying to be upright and standup and support his family. I'm all for protecting the public, but there's something really, really wrong with this picture.

SpookyRach said...

Very good questions. There simply aren't any answers.

Anonymous said...

Look at your last post - contrition (including penance) doesn't mean there aren't consequences... I can see the employer's problem since the guy is going in people's homes to deliver.
Too bad he wasn't in a role with less public interface. Society, you or I may look at him and decide he's changed, and even the justice system may have decided he's done with consequences, but cosmic karma apparently has different ideas.
Maybe there will be a silver lining. What's that quote... for every door that closes, another opens?

P.M. Prescott said...

Given a taste of the American Dream, then to have it yanked away like that, such a shame. I'm sure his victims feel it's poetic justice, but it's a good way to turn him bitter and to go back to a life of crime just creating more victims. Vicious cycle.

beth said...

There's just no right answer to make us all feel better here. I hope another opportunity arises for this fellow. It's easy for us to talk about consenquences - and true - but how difficult it must be for the man whose spirit has been crushed. I hope his endures.

Cynthia said...

My life, and Larry's, can be measured by our response to what happens to us and by what we cause to happen to the rest of the world. Some of us have dealt some serious blows to the world at large and to individuals, in specific. The tough thing is, sometimes some of us keep getting kicked even when we are not doing the kicking. It is not fair to do the harm and not fair to be harmed. I hope Larry can take the positives he has recently experienced and parlay them into the strength to keep on plugging. It is the best he can do.

SpookyRach said...

Cynthia - you continue to amaze me. You are absolutely right. The bottom line is life is not fair. It is not fair for the victim, it is not fair for the guy trying to go straight.

Like you said - find the positives. Use them to keep growing in the right direction.

Thanks for commenting!!!

(If y'all haven't checked out Cynthia's kick-ass poetry, please do!)

don't eat alone said...

Forgiveness doesn't always ameliorate consequences either -- what a hard lesson. Thanks for sharing the story.


Captainwow said...

dang, you always write about this stuff SO WELL!! I do feel bad about that guy and trust your instincts that he's probably really changed. I know people can change, and unfortunately sex offenders get the worst of it sometimes I think. (the term covers such a broad spectrum) People don't ask questions, they don't always want to know they just want to nail the evil doer to the wall. And when do you know if someone's truly changed?
In my book, the debt can never be paid for sexual assualt. The victim lives with it forever, and so do all the people in their lives. The ripple effect of that crime is devestating if there's no redeeming or healing of the event/surrounding effects. At the same time, if we believe in healing or redeeming on that end of things, why can't we believe in healing or redemption for the perpetrator?! -- if he truly changed, it's too bad his world isn't allowing for that. I feel bad for the guy, but he's fortunate/blessed to have you around, I'd say.
It ain't black and white I guess.

Patti said...

That. Really. Sucks.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Oh good grief. How sad.