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People change, the 'box' doesn't [Letter]

Laws and Legislation

After doing three years in the federal pen at Lewisburg and seven on probation in Baltimore, I had used all the services available to get employment to match my talents (several management positions) and IQ. Of 144. I vowed not to lie about my past ("City Council votes for 'ban the box' law," March 10).

The only offer I got was sweeping floors at Montgomery Ward. This was in 1974. I realized I would have to create my own job. I spent three years as a concert promoter and booking agent, then two years owning Zodiac lunch in the Fells Point Market.

My blind cousin asked me to cover her during her vacation, which started a series of events that led to the position of assistant to the vice president and new facilities manager for Blind Industries, without having to fill out an application.

I then started a cafeteria of my own, which lasted eight years until the company I was servicing moved to Ohio. Luckily the candy and tobacco salesman I had used for 20 years was promoted to sales manager, and I took over his route. Again no application to fill out, no lies to tell.

After three years I was promoted to sales manager, and a year later I sat on the board of directors of the Virginia Wholesaler Association. When our company was bought out 10 years later, the staff went to the new company to apply for our old positions — including me, as a salesman.

Then, there it was: The "box." My 30-year vow was right in front of me. And I lied. I was a model employee, outspoken at meetings and eager to lend my hand wherever it was needed. I also worried about lying about my extensive criminal past and wondered if would be the day I'd be exposed.

I retired three ago and was honored at a banquet at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville.

The "box" does not quantify the person in front of you.

All my convictions were for pot. The first for an antique water pipe with residue (five years in jail, reduced on appeal and by a law change to five years probation), the last by the feds for importing tons via a stolen plane.

People do change. Nobody is the same at 30 as they were at 19, especially if you've done a timeout in one of our government correctional facilities. Judge the person in front of you, not the ghost riding their coattails.

Dan Shannahan, Fullerton

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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