Color photo of a sun setting behind trees on the far shore of a lake
The sun sinks in the sky. Image courtesy of RestfuC401 / Wikimedia Commons.

I’m 30 years old and just got the picture that time is to be valued and not taken for granted. They say some people get that calling in life to step up and take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime, to lead or be a leader. Well, it sure enough took me a while to really understand that. I can preach the ghetto gospel of the everyday struggle young men and women face each day to feed their kids, trying to keep the lights on at home, or just try to be a law-abiding citizen. But what happens when your hands call for desperate measures? You bite the bait, dive in way too deep, just to get a piece of the good pie. I wasted all my adolescent years and my twenties chasing an illusion I thought was real, just trying to make ends meet. Instead of doing what was planned for me, I went against the plan. I did not listen when people told me, “Boy, life is hard when you do not have a great education and you depend on someone to hold your hand, show you what needs to be done in your own life. Wake up!”

If I had the power to rewind the years and time of my life, everything would be so different. I really would have finished school and gone to college. It took for me to step back over into D.C. Jail for the fifth time. I was in my 20s every time I went to the Reentry Services Division. Then I turned 30 in a cell over the jail. Life has a funny way of getting your damn attention.

Me, 30 years of age with not a thing to show for it. Or like my mother used to say, “Boy, you don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.” She never lied. She always told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear. 

My cousin Lakeashia and my mom tried to give me a real lesson about life. But at a young age, I did not want to hear that sh** about being responsible for my actions and life as an adult. When I was young, I was on a quick dollar: clothes, shoes, and girls. If only my dumb a** would have taken their advice about life. 

“Hard heads make soft a**es.” Whoever came up with that one hit it on the money, because when I wrote this I was sitting in River’s Correctional Facility, a federal prison in Winton, North Carolina. I didn’t even have money for a canteen or to buy good hygiene products. 

I had to wait till they call chow since I had no money. It was a true wake-up call, because if something really bad happens to me in prison, my emergency contact is… no one. 

Did you get that? The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons wouldn’t have known how to locate next of kin if something happened to me. That’s a hard realization. I should have taken that advice, which was given to me by people who love me. 

I was released on June 26, 2020. That was three months ago! I want to get into Philemon Mission transitional housing in Northeast because I’m homeless with no address, job, education, or income outside of selling this paper. WAKE UP CALL!

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” — Abraham Lincoln. 


Marcus McCall is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media.