What The Prisoners On The Bus Taught Me About Life

March 10, 2017

Prisoners (Main)

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There’s always something with me…you guys know this by now (lol). One thing about it though, I am able to derive meaning from these crazy things that only seem to happen to me.

In college, I lived at the intersection of Northside Drive and Fair Street in the Atlanta neighborhood  known as Castleberry Hill. Also known to me as the intersection where all of the prison buses coming from Rice Street County Jail turned to go the Fulton County Courthouse. I witnessed the procession of buses from my window a few times and thought nothing of it. One lucky (really terribly unlucky) spring morning, I stepped out in one of my famous over-the-top outfits, and all of a sudden appeared the buses—gross miscalculation on my part.

Every prisoner at Rice Street must have had court this particular morning because about  5 or 6 buses filled with inmates berated, heckled, demeaned, taunted, and whistled at me for what felt like the longest 2 minutes of my life.

No mistaking it, these were the most unfortunate 2 minutes in all of history, and I just had to stand there and endure it. There is no crossing the street or avoiding the buses once they start filing in, you must simply wait until the last bus turns the corner and the police escorts give you the right-a-way.

As humiliating as this moment was, it resulted in two epiphanies for me:

  1. People Are Entitled to Their Perspectives

Another person’s perspective is just that…THEIR PERSPECTIVE. Clearly I wasn’t all of the things that were shouted out at me by the inmates. Given I didn’t know any of them, there was no reason for me to receive or internalize their views of me. As I stood there, I made the decision to allow everything they were saying to bounce off of me. It doesn’t mean I was immune. I heard them and was far from happy about what they were saying, but there was absolutely nothing I could do about the choices they had made in that moment to verbally ambush me. I have since applied this posture toward any and all external views of me. Let’s face it, we all form opinions and perspectives of things and people. It’s just human nature. It’s also very human to care about or be impacted by others’ views. It takes great intentionality to view others’ perspectives logically. So, I allow myself to be human. I take in what people say, search within myself for any truth in their views/statements, make adjustments where needed, and shake off the rest.

  1. Humor Is A Gift

I couldn’t wait to get down the hill to school to share what had just happened with my friends. Of course they said, “Only you!” We laughed for a good while and the rest of the day was filled with one liners from the inmates. If you read Am I To Blame For Your Imaginary Beef, you know I am prone to awkwardly laughing at moments that shouldn’t be funny. While this has gotten me in trouble at times, it’s been my saving grace in others. Humor is one of the best and healthiest ways to release tension and stress. We can either choose to find light in otherwise challenging moments, or we by default choose to be defeated by them. In the end, it’s all a matter of…PERSPECTIVE.

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