Ass, meet hands

I’d like to think I’m pretty resourceful. Like, for instance, if someone goes and drops a $20 bill in a dark bar in Manhattan in 2006 when I’m so poor I have to regularly weigh the pros and cons of buying either soap or contact solution since buying both would overdraft my account, then I’ll help myself to said neglected Mr. Jackson and buy both. Oh, the luxury. Those were the days.

Since those days of making maraschino cherries and green olives my dinner on occasion (3x/week), I’ve lost my resourcefulness. I’m not mourning the time when I shared a studio with a 35-year-old Yugoslavian (RIP) divorcee who was recently unemployed and charged me $1200 to take the bed while she slept 6 feet away on the couch, but it did make me scrappy. How happy could I be in a bad situation that was only growing worse as my roommate began to resent my starry eyed New York infatuation? Extremely, apparently. I remember telling my friend that since moving to New York “every day feels like I’m on vacation.” Bizarre.

Me, in the poo spa of NYC circa 2006
Me, in the poo spa of NYC circa 2006

I made the most of several bad situations back then, but damnit if there isn’t an inmate at San Quentin State Prison who’s, like, handing my ass to me. Curtis Carroll, or “Wall Street” as he’s known in prison, was homeless for most of his youth and illiterate when he got locked up at 17 years old. I heard his story on NPR and was all “damn, he’s crushing it on the inside.”

Wall Street taught himself to read since coming across the financial section in the newspaper. He thought it was sports (snore) and found out is was actually economics (funsies)! He’s now teaching financial literacy lessons to like 70 inmates a week, and apparently prison Corrections Officers seek his advice too. If I’ve learned anything from The Shawshank Redemption and Orange is the New Black (and I totes have), it’s that often inmates struggle to face life on the outside after being inside for several decades. Not only is there an initial shock acclimating to a not-so-controlled environment, but they often have no resources to even start an honest life. They’re given $200 to live off of, which I’m pretty sure is the cost of rent in, like, rural South Dakota amongst cornstalks and Mt Rushmore. Just. not. ok.

As Wall Street says “It’s like, ‘Good luck. We’re gonna pray for you. Stay out of prison.'” So anyways, I think what he’s doing is crazy inspiring. He wants to earn a great deal of money and then give it all away to charity like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to go back and help fix the things he’s destroyed. How dreamy is that? Talk about making the most out of a shit situation. Thanks for handing my ass to me, Wall Street. Keep on crushing it on the inside.

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