Pictured above: Happy Homecoming – iPad returned – faith renewed. (Screen image of acrylic painting, “Reclaimed” by Sharon Weiner/Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica.)
“The return” restores my faith in humanity.
Nobody trusts a gangbanger… that goes without saying. Not many people trust lawyers either, but I just became friends with a gangbanger turned lawyer who may just be the most trustworthy person I’ve met in years.
How is this about art? Well, anything that challenges your preconceptions helps you see the world differently, and that’s what art is all about. And Victor not only challenged by preconceptions, he turned them upside down. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I panicked when I discovered I had left my precious comprehensive “digital life” somewhere amongst the 2 million people who live in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. I had had a two-hour business meeting in a local coffee house then I stopped for a supply of chocolate chip cookies for the road. The thing is – I didn’t realize I’d left my iPad until 5 hours later.
The next morning I returned to both places, pleading for help with my desperate search, and even asked the Deli manager to please view the security tape from the day before.
Nothing turned up. I felt awful about losing such an expensive electronic gift. The worst thing was – I hadn’t set the GPS “Finder App” which could have located the device in seconds. (Truth is – I had objected to the idea of my husband knowing exactly where I was at all times. I guess I have to get over the fear of being stalked thing.)
Angry and embarrassed that the whole thing happened, I still knew I needed to purchase another rig. It was painful walking into the Apple Store – considering the only reason for my $500 predicament was carelessness.
Fast Forward: 3 weeks later
I get an e-mail from a guy named Victor. He has my Ipad, and says I could call him to pick it up.
Who was this guy? Why didn’t he just keep it? Or sell it? It was fairly new. It just didn’t make sense – at least if I were going to cling to the notion that society is malicious, self-centered, and opportunistic.
On the phone Victor told me he was at the Coffee House a few days earlier, and the device was sitting on the chair next to him. He hoped someone would come along and claim it so he wouldn’t have to deal with it. By closing time it was still there. He said he was studying for the upcoming California bar exam. I asked if he was a starving law student, and he said yes—that he did construction work during the day to pay for his education at UC Berkeley Law School.
We agreed to meet at his construction site in Beverly Hills for the hand-off the following day. Victor turned out to be an adorable young man in his 30s, with a past I never could have scripted. His story emerged when I asked him why he returned the tablet.
He said he had made some major changes in his life, and knew it was the right thing. He said, “I just did the math.”
After some more digging, he finally told me he once was a gun-toting valley gangbanger and was headed for a dead-end life. With the encouragement of a girlfriend, he somehow found his way, and found his passion for law. He’s since earned his degree, and did so on a full scholarship. Next month he’ll take the bar.
In the meantime, Victor has agreed to come speak to my inner-city kids in South Central — and tell them his full story: a story that ends with his becoming a defense attorney — representing kids just like him.
I’m generally a hopelessly optimistic person. But when my imagination gets flooded with fear – and in this case guilt and self-hatred, I guess I thought the worst. I wound up with renewed faith in man, and an unexpected role model for the gang members I work with. Victor made my day – then made my year. Bottom line: I am grateful for two things:
1) Apple has a 30-day return policy, and
2) Victor has an even better one.