The Thanksgiving in jail for saving a life — lessons learned
Quite a few people asked me why I choose to live and work in Asia when I can get better pay and much more in USA where I lived most of my life. We can certainly get a whole lot more in the USA besides a good pay and what I got in America was more than enough to stay the hell away from it for a while. What I got happened during my last Thanksgiving in the USA, so I thought I’d share it during the Thanksgiving time! After all, I’m thankful in the long run…
We always hear love is blind but it hardly ever is. At least not for rational people, for whom, mature love sees the present quite well but unfortunately not the future. Love can’t predict how genes interact and dictate what our brain and body will do over time, nor if we will be sane next year or even the following week. A lot can change in a few hours sometimes, especially as we get older. Some can go completely nuts when the clock on their mind explosive tics down to zero. Unfortunately, we never get a warning about these abrupt and unexpected changes in behavior and emotions. Their terrifying outcomes can leave us lost, hopeless and completely ruined! But thanks to angels such as technology, science and amazing strangers, sometimes not all is lost and lives can be rescued and restored.
Thanksgiving was two days away. My mom passed the same year so it was the first Thanksgiving without her. She bravely battled breast cancer for 30 years and it was especially painful since the previous year I wasn’t able to spend Thanksgiving with her. So here comes Thanksgiving again, sending its sadness to trap me as an immense and sticky spider web that I could not free myself from no matter in which direction I struggled. In my worst nightmare I could not have had a worse Thanksgiving day. As my mom’s passing wasn’t enough, my relationship at the time was a living hell. My girlfriend of four years turned out to be bipolar. Although she was a smart and ambitious woman, during her latest episodes, she destroyed much of what we had. At first, she had outbursts that weren’t too out of the ordinary and having to deal with emotional individuals all my life, I thought, no problem, I got this. However, over time, the more frequent and severe her episodes got; a common occurrence when untreated. She would smash things, take off and disappear for a day or two and turn off her phone for hours at a time after sending threats of committing suicide. I could not take it anymore and I thought after Thanksgiving passed I needed to seriously talk to her about getting help and medication.
But unfortunately her new episode arrived to celebrate Thanksgiving early. The day before thanksgiving she decided life was too much of a burden and why not get rid of it once and for all? At first, she kept running hysterically back and forth from the bedroom to the kitchen as if something was chasing her. I knew craziness was about to go down. Sure enough, it kicked in all of a sudden. She raced for the shelf and got a decent size kitchen knife and tried to slice her wrists. I wrestled the knife out of her hand and held her still, preventing her to move. After a couple of minutes, she began to struggle and scream hysterically saying I need to let her go as I have no right to hold her hostage. I made the mistake of letting her go and she ran for the bathroom and locked the door. At least she didn’t have knives or anything she could harm herself in there, I thought. Fifteen minutes later I unlocked the door to find her barely breathing, with a bottle of sleeping pills next to her. Right away I called 911 and asked for an ambulance asap.
Fortunately, in about 10 minutes they were there and took her to the emergency room. I followed and made sure she was stable. The paramedics declared me a hero and said that another 15 minutes and they might have taken her to the morgue instead. I wanted to stay there and wait for her to wake up. But since I didn’t close an eye for more than 28 hours since the fiasco began, I looked like hell. The medical staff said they got it under control and that I should go get some rest. Since the hospital was only 10 minutes away I went back home planning to get a couple of hours of sleep and then return to the hospital.
I sat in my bed with my mind running to and fro. I thought, thanks God she’s in a hospital at last. For sure they will get her the proper help when she wakes out of this mess and it might save me the hassle of being the first one. I finally fell asleep when the doorbell rang. Who could it be? “This is the police, open the door”. I thought something terrible must have happened, but the staff at the hospital told me she was stable just minutes ago. It can’t be! “Sir, please step outside, you’re being charged with domestic violence”. Fearing the worst happened I quickly stepped outside not paying attention that I was only wearing a shirt. My words stuttered as I was now shivering uncontrollably out of exhaustion, panic and the cold. “Is she OK, did something happened to her after I left the hospital?” The officers looked at each other quite puzzled and finally one of the 6 officers decided to be the brave one “Don’t f… in worry about her, she’s fine, you should worry about how to treat women”. I was thinking, what could this moron be talking about? Is he also bipolar or coming down with an episode? For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why it took 6 officers to cuff a tired, skinny, 150 lbs. individual with a clean record, in no possession of firearms and not dangerous in any way.
Maybe I made a big mistake by leaving the hospital before she woke up. I was so tired that I could not care to ask, nor care to know any more of the nonsense that was happening.
Finally, my “protectors and servers” woke up to reality and realized that a skinny, unarmed, tired guy with a clean record did not require 6 oversized bozos for a ride to jail. One of the officers offered to have the honor of escorting me. Thanks God it wasn’t the moron playing judge which already convicted me of domestic violence. This guy began talking to me as though he was helping my cause. Tired, cold and stressed beyond limits, I was almost shocked into a coma by what he said. What can I say, from one extreme to the next! Then again, I didn’t know the guy, and who knows what he’s seen and had to deal with throughout his time on duty. He said,
“I’ve been to the hospital and looked over your case. I would not have rushed to call the ambulance if I were you. She wanted this, you should have granted her wish. You did this for someone that doesn’t value life? Someone that thinks life is a joke? I wish I can put her in jail and let you go, but I have a family and kids to take care of. I have to do my job. Hopefully the judge will sort this out and do his/her job as well.”
Seriously??? I must admit it felt sort of comforting at first. At least someone didn’t convict me for something I didn’t do and I was hoping he’s right about the judge part. But the other parts he spoke about were rather shocking… With his kind of thinking, no wonder some on the police force find it so damn easy to start firing. In their mind, perhaps most people they deal with hate life or don’t value it enough, therefore, why bother the judicial system when they can carry out the sentence fast and efficient?
I could not believe this… in jail for the first time! I sure had a lot to thank for. Who knows, it could have been a lot worse. Considering what I’ve been through, I could have easily lost my cool and tick off one of the oversized morons which are usually quick to overreact rather than serve and protect.
The following day I was told that two days later I could talk to a public defender (PD) if I can’t afford a lawyer. Not knowing much at the time I thought lawyers would be better than PDs. What I didn’t know and experience before is of course, lawyers are only really good at ripping you off while pretending to help you. How can they help when many of them have worse issues than the people they pretend to help and need your money to fix them?
It was Thanksgiving day. I was in jail for the first time in my life. In the same cell was a nice fellow from Guatemala. He was arrested for not having papers and being in the country illegally. I speak Spanish so it made time pass by easier for both of us. He could not contact his family in Guatemala for 10 days while arrested and during this time they had no idea if he was still alive. They were counting on his job and money to survive and I could only imagine his/their trauma. It made my situation look like a full-moon rave compared to his. I was thinking “America, the land of all opportunities indeed”. Not many places would offer you the opportunity of a Thanksgiving behind bars for saving someone’s life — but then again a few other places may kill you for it, especially for saving the wrong life. It’s good to know such places exist, brings things in perspective on such occasions. Comforting, isn’t it?
Later in the day my girlfriend came to visit me in jail. She was sobbing uncontrollably. She could not believe what just happened. She said that she told the nurses and hospital staff what happened and could not understand why they would arrest me. That day she wrote letters to the judge and the DA telling them what happened. We were both shocked beyond belief by how the judge and the DA responded. They argued that they have reasons to believe that I have coerced the “victim” into writing the letters. How was that possible if I was in jail and she was still in the hospital?
The scumbag lawyer I hired already dragged the case on for weeks and it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere. I wasn’t allowed to return to work and two weeks into this mess, the employer terminated me. The judge and DA could care less about what my girlfriend had to say. She came to three hearings and not once was she asked anything or allowed to talk about what happened. They insisted with their nonsense about domestic violence. Respected professionals and people with influence I knew in the community wrote letters to the judge for me, all in vain. Both the judge and DA refused to look at any letters and instead responded arrogantly, “It only takes one time. For all we know, he could have killed her. Luckily she’s still alive”. This absurdity was no short of basically saying that I forced the pills down her throat. My response to them — well… it only takes one botched allegation or prosecutorial misconduct to ruin someone’s life and career. Sure there were questionable things. Why was her finger swollen, why she attempted suicide etc. But most of all, why was a convict’s testimony out of all people trusted without a doubt and what happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?
In a matter of days, I lost everything, my job, my life and my clean record. I was at the mercy of probability and for some reason I happened to be one of those 5% chances of something wrong going really wrong. I didn’t have a crowd as ML King did to support me and go marching against the injustice and incompetence of our legal system. Not much I could do when I wasn’t given any options and the judge didn’t care to hear anything from anyone.
Out on bail, I called a friend who was a public defender in Los Angeles and told him about what happened. Quite stunned, he said…
“Dude I feel so sorry for you. You fell through the cracks. This is a botched case and they’re not going to look stupid because of it. Get rid of your crooked lawyer so you won’t lose a penny more and simply plead no contest and they will likely reduce your sentence especially since it is your first offense.”
I was speechless, “But what should I say happened if they ask”? He responded “Anything that’s not too incriminating, like you held her hostage for two minutes… whatever. They won’t ask as long as you plead no contest.”
Sure enough, as soon as I said I’ll plead no contest, they reduced my sentence and gave me 24 hours of anger management counseling. Strangely, all of a sudden, my girlfriend was no longer in danger being around a criminal. While on trial, all the nonsense the judge circled around was how afraid he was for her life because of me. And now, he wasn’t? I’m no longer the life-threatening abuser, perpetrator and violent criminal I was before pleading no contest? Either Judge Winn knew I wasn’t who he and the DA masqueraded me to be, or, they were hoping that once I’m out on probation, I would do something to put me behind bars for a long time. As a matter of fact he insinuated “Next time I won’t be so easy if you’re back for the same thing”. I almost wanted to say, “Oh really, so if I save someone’s life again, you’re gonna put me away for good Your Moronity?”
This tells you everything about this judge and how screwed up in the head he was on this occasion. I certainly hope he’s made better decisions as a judge. But in this case, who is the one with anger issues? Me for saving the victim or the judge for sentencing me and the so called victim for attempting suicide? With a criminal record and my job gone because of it, there wasn’t much I could do. Try to explain a potential employer which knows nothing about you that your criminal record is the result of saving your girlfriend’s life and a moron you must address honorably. He/she will surely laugh at your choice of love and relationships.
I decided to win against such nonsense in a different way. ML King had a crowd, but he didn’t have the technology and global opportunities we have today. Learning from friends and the internet about teaching English and studying abroad, I decided to leave the USA in order to get a job and put this mess behind me. I got an ESL teaching job and was also fortunate to pursue my doctorate studies at one of the best universities in Asia.
Many years have passed since this incident. I received my PhD and I’m now an assistant professor and a researcher. I have a wonderful family and I’m about to finish writing a book in which I detail perspectives and issues on education, global opportunities and people. I also include as one of the examples this unfortunate event and how good things can come out of it. Technology and science bring us incredible opportunities worldwide which are indeed our modern days saving angels. Many other Americans were also saved by these “Real Angels” (not those of Revelation) and I’ve heard even more incredible/terrible personal stories from some of the American compatriots living and working abroad. I would have never had a chance to get my life back if it wasn’t for the current technology, internet and global working opportunities. Their miracle in my life and how they saved me, makes me wanna shout “Bring it on John P. Winn, let’s see what else you got!” I had to suffer for Winn’s prosecutorial misconduct. I had trouble leaving and entering the USA until my criminal record was expunged. No problem, the internet is a wonderful thing and besides saving me from his mess, someday people will learn of this and some form of justice may come about.
Why did I stay quiet all these years? At that time I was a brainwashed Christian and I literately adhered to the “turn the other cheek and do good to those that do evil” philosophy. Besides, what could a convicted felon which lost all credibility do against an inapt judge and DA since they weren’t willing to listen even to the victim herself?
Jesus dis say something remarkable though “If people persecute you in one place, go to another”. I did so and I found one of the nicest places and people on earth in Taiwan. Also, I did not have the slightest idea how to go about anything this crazy and out of control in my life and I certainly didn’t have OJ’s money to fight it. A plot for a good movie couldn’t even come close!
It’s funny how both of the law reps uttered nonsense that I could have killed my girlfriend and they were “protecting” her. Yeah, right, they wouldn’t even listen to her or allow her to talk and they want to call that protection? Isn’t it ridiculous that once I pleaded no contest my girlfriend wasn’t even in the picture ? How is it she did not need protection anymore if I was this dangerous criminal on the loose now? Looking at the news and the politics we’re dealing with today, I doubt many would be surprised by how things where handled.
What I learned from this unfortunate event is that if I did something similar to what Rachel Dolezal did, it might have spared me from a Thanksgiving in jail and a criminal record. A trans individual I became friends with in Taiwan jokingly said I could have put on one of my gf’s mini skirts and for sure the cops would have left my house nodding their heads if I stepped outside dressed as a woman. As much as we both laughed about it, s/he was probably right, but it’s a good thing I didn’t do it. I don’t need to corrupt my integrity and consciousness. I also realized that our system targets cis white males, especially if they contribute to society. It’s unfortunate I’m quite happy with who and what I am, otherwise, just like others do, I could lie about who I am or pretend I’m something else to gain extra privileges! I mean why not? Doesn’t the legal system pretend to help and it does quite the opposite when it’s supposed to do what is right and just?
I hope the way the internet saved the life Judge Winn tried his best to destroy, it will one day bring him this story and show him that he was dead wrong. People worldwide that may be victims of their country’s various inapt systems should know there is hope in the world and you can overcome adversity. An experience like this taught me the fact that strangers many times treat you better than your own and offer you opportunities much better than your own ever would. The world is a beautiful place taken as a whole, but it can be quite ugly when you look at one particular place, country and any of its systems. Think of some countries being beautiful eyes of various colors and shapes, great arms, legs and bodies while other countries are like a stinky and nasty ass. Together they combine to form a potentially wonderful human being, similar to our world. It’s our choices that make us an entire ass, just like some countries and places.
Sure enough, the US has plenty of beautiful body parts besides being the greatest ass in the world at the same time. The US passport is an unbelievable treasure for the time being. I can travel at will throughout most of the world and in many cases I get better treatment than the locals. The US government protects its citizens abroad and goes out of the way to save any of them if they are kidnapped, treated unjustly and wronged by other nations. It is unfortunate that the US government cannot protect and offer the same great justice to its citizens inside as it does outside at times, because of what politics are doing to it. Moreover, because of the US passport, I don’t have to migrate or live illegally anywhere as many other citizens must do because their country and passport are worth less than toilet paper and they have no choice. Who knows, this might change some day. The way we’re doing things at home aren’t opening doors wide abroad for Americans like it once did. So, enjoy it while it lasts.
That is why we shouldn’t always focus on one place, country, system or a particular human being from a certain part of the world. There are many good places and countries in the world just as there are many good people in a given place or country. Nowadays, with so much progress in science and technology and so many options we can have a good life in most places on earth, some, surprisingly not given much thought by most people. Ironically and unfortunately we could have a very tough time and go through unbelievably horrible situations in some of the best places on earth. Incompetent and/or crooked people and systems could ruin many people’s lives in many places and great places aren’t the exception. But on rare occasions incompetent morons and/or systems are like forest fires that aid the seeds of various pines to break free of the cones that trap them, allowing seeds to sprout. Some people turn out to be just like the seeds of these majestic pines; they need a destructive fire to get rid of their cone (their small and insignificant life up to that point), so that they could sprout, grow and have the kind of life and future an unburned cone could never offer to a seed. It’s very unfortunate that the fire destroys lots of great things in its way, but at least new seeds will sprout.
Lots of people go through all kinds of traumas in their life many times because they want to help others and unfortunately because of no fault of their own. But this is how they often discover their strengths and special talents — not because they were treated fairly by others or the system but for being pushed to their limits. People find their true abilities because of adversity, unfairness and all the hardship they have to go through when they aren’t going to quit. Why quit when the world has so much to offer? The world and strangers are always full of surprises, most of the time good ones and I can testify to that. It makes you wonder why so many young people commit suicide who have it a lot easier in life and go through less drama!
We can bury unfortunate things in one place or another and start new and fresh somewhere else. Eventually, the truth about who we are will always surface when we are wrongly accused or discriminated against. We need to put the past behind and learn to accept and give others and especially ourselves a second chance. There’s plenty of evidence that many people regret not giving themselves a second chance. Don’t let those that wrong you get the best of you. Most of the time they are no one that matters, especially with the current opportunities we have. Now, I’m thankful especially on Thanksgiving for that time in jail as it helped me find out more about the world, the opportunities and the wonderful strangers in it!