Jayson George’s buyout, like many of the pizzas he delivers for Seymour’s Domino’s Pizza, comes with everything.
A job, a vehicle, an apartment. Also, recognition, a shoe collection that wouldn’t make Imelda Marcos jealous but at least allow her to go out anywhere. And most importantly, a heavy dose of self-esteem that stems from, if not conquering, her drug addiction since doctors say addiction can still haunt her, but beat her and body snap her like a wrestling pin.
The cliché is old and worn: “Life begins at 40”. But for George, who is one year away from serving more than five years in prison for drug offences, the aphorism is accurate, even though he is 45. His former home was Branchville Correctional Institution. Now he lives in Brownstown.
Who knew pepperoni could be more seductive than crystal meth? Being an ex-con looking for a job is a different challenge than being a drug addict. George filled out more paperwork in the applications than if he had applied for a national security clearance. At first, nada, no interest from those hiring.
He was at the forefront of rental properties that also seemed to have vacancies, and the landlords didn’t want him.
“Nobody would hire me,” George said. “I’ve messed up a lot in my life. I’ve been a drug addict since I was 17.
One day George was driving down Tipton Street and saw a sign seeking help in the window of Domino’s Pizza, 1104 E. Tipton St. He applied and was hired the same day. He made himself indispensable to the franchise with his dedication, working long hours and even winning a business award in a perseverance contest.
“They gave me a chance here to be me,” George said in a recent workplace interview. “It’s my goal that I’ve been looking for for a long time.”
George grew up in Columbus, raised mostly by his grandparents, and said he became a drug addict at age 17 from marijuana and methamphetamine use.
“I just went crazy,” George said of his younger behavior.
He would be arrested, serve prison time, be released, plan to straighten out his life but would not follow through and return to prison. Sometimes he said he abused his mother and grandparents.
“I lied to them. I robbed them,” he said.
Last year he served a third prison term which began in 2016 around a guilty plea to possession with intent to sell drugs. He had hoped to stay clean, but after a car accident left him with a huge gash on his left leg, he spent 20 days in an intensive care unit and became addicted to painkillers. This triggered a relapse.
This time in prison, he attended vocational training programs and rehabilitation programs. Addiction, however, is defined by one dictionary as “a compulsive, chronic, physiological, or psychological craving for an addictive substance, behavior, or activity,” meaning it is not simple for an addict to turn off a light switch.
Yet George had reached a point where he despised addiction and began to wage war on it. When he hears about people who are addicted to heroin or opioids, he says, “It makes me sick. I pray for these people.
Change, he says, is difficult.
“You have to want it. It’s a fight,” he said.
For George, shaking off addiction has been rewarded. It can be simple things taken for granted by others as normal. He has a stable job. He has an apartment in a duplex, not a cell. He has a bank account that he deposits savings into as an insurance policy against anything that can go wrong.
It all energized his mother, Patsy Battin of Columbus, who spent her life worrying about George and now sees a man on the right path after too many detours through dead-end streets.
“Jayson and I are inseparable now. I’m so proud of him,” Battin said. “I wanted him to change. I want him to be proud of himself. »
When George got out of jail, she said, “He literally only had the clothes on his back.”
Not everyone was ready to hire a 6-foot-tall, bearded man who weighed around 280 pounds and was decorated with tattoos, she said.
“Domino’s is the break he needed,” she said.
Jeannie Walsh, general manager of the Seymour store, calls George “my right hand.” She hired George after an impressive interview.
“He seemed different,” Walsh said. “He seemed to be straight and restrained. He wanted to work. »
Work George a. Sometimes it exceeded 70 hours. Basically, George is a delivery boy, but whenever there was a lack of help, he got into pizza making (he can throw dough), doing whatever was necessary, a few days work before opening until closing.
“He’s still here,” said District Manager Christina Bowman, who oversees three Domino’s Pizza stores in southern Indiana. “He is still working. I know that if he participates in it (any mission), it will be done.
A few months ago, the company sponsored an incentive “survival” contest for drivers, offering $10,000 in prizes to whoever worked the most days and hours combined and delivered the most pizzas on a 60 day period.
Some 30 drivers from Indiana and Kentucky entered, and when the time block ended, there were still 18 drivers in the chase. The deadline has been extended to 90 days.
In the end, seven drivers, including George, remained, and they split the pot. George received $1,428.57. It came from being all out.
“He’s awesome,” Walsh said. “He pays attention to everything. It goes up and beyond.
George is so well liked by his supervisors that they wonder why he didn’t aspire to be an executive. Wow. For someone who endured hard times and problems for years, served time in prison and battled drug issues, George doesn’t want to rush things.
“Maybe later,” George said. “I focus on balancing a stable life with my sobriety.”
George took a long and intensive cooking class in prison and said he might like to open his own restaurant one day.
George feels healthier than he has in years, and while saying he never knew his father growing up, the two have now connected. This led to sometimes working at a Columbus tire store or in construction.
Out of indulgence, although careful spending is necessary through online shopping, George has acquired a dozen pairs of shoes, one a month, since his release from prison. There is symbolism in this interest. He remembers being impoverished enough to have had to wear shoes stuck together.
“I love my Jordans,” laughed George, noticing a pair of Air Jordan-Michael Jordan sneakers he had bought second-hand.
While that’s one of the perks of hard work, George has a bigger pleasure in mind. When the bank account is sufficiently full, he will buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Seek to be an example
Hard times seemed to follow George forever, but now they seem to be in the rear view mirror, and he wants to share what he’s learned about addiction, telling others not to be like him.
He tells his own story of rehabilitation and recovery, of mistakes made and good choices made and hopes that he will be heard and can help others avoid missteps.
“I try to spread the word when I go to meetings,” George said. “In text messages and on Facebook, I try to encourage everyone. I want to talk to troubled kids and message them early. I would like to see my story help people, motivate them. I don’t want to be that person anymore.
The person he was, ruled by addiction.
“I want to be a positive peer to help people,” George said.
He is grateful to Domino’s for believing in him and he is indebted to the company. It is often said that addiction to drugs or alcohol leads to one of three sad outcomes: death, hospitalization or institutionalization.
George, a full-time recovering drug addict, wants the world to know that there is “a fourth way”.
Its late but not too late.