A Beacon of Light
By Elva Carri
Birdman is a US prison inmate. Each night, all of the prisoners are counted by a guard. One night, although in his cell, the guard missed him. Not being counted is a serious violation; it indicates that you weren’t where you were supposed to be.
The sergeant gave him a write up, involving extra work as punishment. Understandably, his first thoughts were, “Okay, I truly am not guilty of this and I have many witnesses who will say the same,” and “Screw this. I am not going to do the work,” until someone close to him encouraged him to do whatever would ultimately be best for him, regardless of the injustice.
“I have always prided myself with doing exceptional work and I was desperately looking to find my pride in this situation.”
Birdman was asked to polish a brass fire hydrant and though he says he still felt resentful, he was committed to doing the best job possible. As the hydrant began to glint, he saw his face in it and realised he was grinning ear to ear.
“I began to laugh out loud for no reason other than enjoying that moment and seeing the result of my work. By putting all my conscious effort into shining up that fire hydrant, I had become bigger than the unfairness that led me to my assignment. I do not know how long I was at it but when I was done that hydrant looked like the prettiest thing in the whole prison. Kinda like a small lighthouse standing proudly in an ocean of concrete. I realised I was shining too and it hasn’t left me. Many people commented on that hydrant all week; wondering how come that thing gives off so much light all of a sudden. I just smiled.”