Stranger 96, Day 96 – Meet Alisha, the “Smile That Serves”

Stranger 96, Day 96 - Meet Alisha

Today’s Stranger is another one of the security personnel at my building (the other was Chandler, Stranger 13). I’ve always appreciated her smile as I left the building giving an energetic, “have a great weekend!” or “have a great evening!”

She’s always got a big smile on her face, so as I left today, I wanted to get to know her better.

Meet Alisha, 23

Who are you?

“I am a soldier of the United States Army Reserve. I’m a security guard at Securitas. I am a girlfriend of Stephen B. And I’m me, I guess!” She laughs with a big smile.

I’m curious, and this may seem like a silly question, but why are you part of the Reserves?

“I originally joined the Reserves because I wanted to be close to my family, and I felt like if I went active, I wouldn’t be able to just be there when they needed me there. But I could still serve my country. So, I originally saw it as the best of both worlds. I guess it kind of still worked itself out. I still got to deploy. I still get all of my treatments and everything’s covered.”

Yeah, you still get to serve your country. I like the way you said that. It’s pretty important to you.

“Definitely. My mom, my dad, my sister, grandpa, my great grandpa, all of us served.”

What do you love about America, and why do you want to continue serving?

“Well, I don’t know too much about other countries, but I know, here, there isn’t anything that I can’t do. I hear a lot that you can’t do that everywhere. Just the fact that I can do that here, and everyone else can do that, I just want to protect that part of the country.”

“It has its bad parts, but it also has really good parts.” She takes a pause to say goodbye to someone leaving. “Have a good day!” she says with a smile.

“I honor the part of the country that allows me to be myself. I will protect that part of the country.”

That’s awesome. So thinking about what you can do. What is something that you can/ want to do?

“Hmm. I think my dream is to work with inmates, and work on prison reform. I feel like you don’t always have to arrest someone for everything that they do. But there should be different avenues. Some things are just like a behaviorial thing. That’s what I want to do — figure out a way to create, like, a program where it’s not going to go… just showing you the better way of doing things, or helping you condition you to do it the better way.”

So when you think about that dream in helping them, what is something specific that you want to help with? What are some of things that you want do to help those already in jail?

“Them? They kind of already have some of the programs that I wanted to do — already in there. Like, helping them with education. Opening doors for, like, you know you’re about to get out soon within the next two years, there are programs you can start working or making connections to work. So you’re not just here stuck out on your own; you don’t know what you’re doing. I guess just to extend on that. Make more programs. Yeah.”

I also think about recidivism (a person’s relapse into criminal behavior). Sometimes, that happens because society “rejects” or ostracizes former-criminals preventing them to properly assimilate with society. I’m curious what are some things we can do as a society to enable/ “allow” or be open to them and help them into society.

“Well, from my experience, people who have a harder time getting back into society are people who are stamped with the word, ‘felon’. Because you can have a misdemeanor like you got arrested, it’s not as damaging as you being a felon. They would need to go through a program, or they need to go through something that has an equally as big stamp as ‘felon’ that is seen on the positive side. If they can find or make a program or a certificate or whatever it is that you need to do that can be seen as equally good as the opposite of how bad a felon is observed, then maybe they would probably be seen better in society. People would be more open to it. ‘Yes, you’re a felon, but you did this.'”

In a lot of ways, you like to serve others, and help them. What is something that someone could help you with?

“Hmm, if Sally Mae would wipe away all my student loans!”

Wait, what is that?

“If Sally Mae would wipe away all my student loans!” she laughs.

“That’s about it…” Haha “If they’d just vanish! If I woke up one day and they weren’t there. I’d love it.”

“But nothing. Just positivity. When people give and feed positivity that just keeps me going. I feed off people’s energy. As long as I’m seeing people smiling, and they’re happy, then I’m happy. When I see people cry, I’m like, ‘Oh no! What’s wrong?’ That’s probably the only thing I need. It’s just others to be good.”

Anything else that you really enjoy doing?

“Learning about new stuff.”

Anything in particular you’re learning right now?

“Right now? How to be healthy! That’s the journey me and my boyfriend are on. We’re trying to cut down on the fatty stuff… which is so hard! I don’t know how people just…” She sighs, and then chuckles.

“It’s a journey… But learning how to be physically and spiritually and all that other good stuff like cleansing ourselves and being better. And then, from there, just learning how to have fun. I’m a very serious person outside of the smiles and giggles, I’m pretty…” she motions with her hands ‘straight’.

“And he’s pretty serious, too, so that’s our, I guess, goal for this year. Or next year — to learn how to have fun.”

Any other thoughts? I’m curious… you have a boyfriend. How long have you guys been together?

“A year.”

What is something he would say that he loves about you?

“Hmm, my drive, and my smile. That’s probably it. That’s what he always says. He loves my drives — how ambitious I am about getting any and everything done. Even if it’s something as simple as laundry, we’re getting it done!” She laughs.

“That, and just the fact that I always want to smile.”

Well, thank you for smiling everyday when I see you.

After the handshake.

It was real nice to get to meet Alisha, and spend a few minutes doing so (vs. a few seconds saying goodnight). She was all smiles just as I know her. I thought it was fascinating that she was in the Reserves, too. She continues to want to serve others, and I felt that was inspiring. I would have never guessed her desire to help inmates. I’m curious why. Looks like I should ask her next time I see her. But hopefully, I won’t see her tomorrow, so she can finally get some time off. (She’s been working for 17 days straight, I think she said.)

Also, I somehow forgot to ask Alisha yesterday’s Stranger question, and for her question for tomorrow’s Stranger. D’oh! The other day, I forgot to press Record on the voice recorder. Today, forgot to ask her the Stranger question. So, I’ll have to relay yesterday’s question for tomorrow’s Stranger.

I think I was just caught up in Alisha’s energy and happiness. It’s quite infectious. 🙂

Meet Alisha. No longer a Stranger.

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