This week a fairly rough-looking guy got through the secure door to the hallway adjacent to my office by following another judicial assistant through the door as she waved her card by the electronic reader. He was powerfully built, shaved but with plenty of stubble, and he wore a black leather jacket that covered, incongruously, a shirt and tie. He asked Kris, my assistant, whether he could talk to me, adding that I had sentenced him to 10 years in prison a long time ago.
Kris came back and explained the situation. She was visibly nervous. She asked what she should do–that meant, “shall I push the magic button that calls the USMS in full tactical gear.” I said no.
I went out to the reception room, and the fellow gave me his name. He was smiling, and perfectly pleasant. I invited him into my inner office and we sat down. To my utter amazement, he said he had come to thank me for sending him to prison for 10 years. He told me that he had made the best of prison, and now owned an interest in a successful meat market. He was the proudest butcher I have had the privilege of meeting.
This fellow especially wanted me to know how much he thought of Mindy. Mindy is a long serving pretrial services officer and had spent lots of time trying to keep the guy on the straight and narrow pending resolution of his case. The man raved about Mindy, attributing his success and change of attitude to her. He remarked about her kindness when his father died. He wanted me to know how much he appreciated what Mindy had done for him. With that accomplished, and taking a moment to speak with Kris about their joint interest in a strange-sounding Swedish meat dish, the fellow grabbed my hand, shook it firmly and left.
A few days later, I tracked Mindy down in her office. I told her of my encounter, and how the previous offender so appreciated what she had done for him. Mindy reminded me that he had been the enforcer for a drug conspiracy. I told Mindy that she must be very proud of what she had done, and I asked if could take her photograph for this blog. She politely declined, saying, “It’s not about me.”
Mindy was right. It is not about her. But it is also true that it would not have been possible without her.
Some things are more important than others. This true story about Mindy and the proud butcher is one of those things.