Social Justice

Rob Thomas - My Story

Part Five

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So I learned all this history on America, then I'm like, "Okay, I know that there are some things about me that's messed up. What do I need to change?" Then God, the universe starts sending me, I get all these books on self-help. I read so many books on self-help, they all started saying the same thing. What you think is what you will create in your reality.

When I got out at 31, April 28th, 2018, I came home with a plan this time. I was in Asheville, just out of prison. It didn't even matter where, but it was with my mother, and she had a two-bedroom apartment and I was sleeping in my sister's room. She couldn't even give me any money when I came home. All I had was the 45 dollars out of the gate check. My plan was to get a commercial driver's license [CDL] because my criminal background record and no experience wouldn't hinder me from starting out and making $60,000 a year or more. And so I read the CDL [manual] and plenty of business books. I have several business plans on businesses that I haven't had the time to implement yet because of the work that I'm in, but those are coming next. My plan was to get a job in commercial driving. But I got out, it was a whole process of me having to go through the State of North Carolina to get them to pay for my commercial driving class because it was $3,500. It's not cheap and I didn't have any money. I got out and then my first 30 days out I was able to get a job at Mission [Hospital], working in a dish room. I worked there for maybe 45, 50 days. I told them I wanted to get my commercial driver's license and I was probably going to need to do it on the weekends, but they had rotating weekends and they kept saying, "We're not sure that we're going to be able to do that." And also, on my off time, I was working 60, 70 hours a week so that I could save money and try to get me a vehicle. But on my off time, I would work.

I went tothe State employent office and there was a person there who kept telling me how my dreams of making that much money in commercial driving were unrealistic. They didn't believe that I was going to finish. They didn't believe that I was going to get a job in it after I finished. They would say crazy stuff, and I was getting ready to give up. But what happened was they told me that I needed to take these tests. There were five of them. And I remember sitting at home taking this test and I only took one of the tests and I was like, "I'm not doing the rest of this. I'm not messing with that person no more. I'm going to go find another way to pay for commercial driving school." So after I take the test, the next day they call me. They're like, "Can you come into the office?" I'm like, "All right. Sure."  I go in there and they're like, "Did you take that test?" I was like, "Yeah, I took it." They're like, "Nobody took it for you?" I was like, "No, I took the test." They're like, "So you didn't cheat or anything?" I'm like, "No. I myself took the test." I scored a really high score on it. So they were like, "Well, are you willing to take the other tests?"

It's wild. So I take the rest of the tests and score high on them, too, and now they're ready to fund me for commercial drivers license and that's how I got funded. I'd only filled out two applications when I got out of prison. One was Mission, the other one was for public housing. I got both jobs. As of right now, every job that I've applied for, I've gotten it since I came home from prison. It's the complete opposite of 2008. A hundred percent hit rate. Four, I filled out four applications, got four jobs.

Public housing [Asheville Housing Authority] called me back and said, "Hey, you want to work for us? You only work Monday through Thursday," and this was perfect because commercial driving class is about to start. I was like, "Yes." I came in and did my interview, they hired me on the spot. Gene Bell was still the director when I worked there.

He left shortly after I left. He tried to talk me into staying because I was a really good worker in public housing. I worked for them in preventive maintenance for about 90 days. I told them when I got the job, "I'm going to commercial driving school, yada yada yada." They told me, "Hey, that's great. After you get your CDL you can drive this heavy equipment and we can give you a better paying job," and I was like, "Perfect." I got my CDL within 60 days, then I gave them an additional 60 days to promote me. They didn't have any jobs coming open, so I ended up finding a job at a trucking company downstate in the Piedmont of North Carolina.

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