Where do you go after 31 years in prison? He went to Walmart and brought his subscribers
Reid began preparing for a new life, taking on leadership roles and learning new skills in prison.
“I realized guys were leaving and going back to the same neighborhood, dealing with the same people, doing the same thing,” he said. “My plan was to go to a new environment and meet new people and do new things. I armed myself with knowledge.”
This time, he arrived in Alliance with a plan to do something different. In August, he will begin culinary school in Cleveland. He hopes to get a food truck one day and later own a restaurant.
In the meantime, though, he said he started his YouTube channel “to show guys who come out from prison and have to learn how to navigate this world, how I did it.”
His most popular video thus far is his first trip to a Walmart. Just inside the door, he stops to chat with the greeter. “How do I get to the cereal aisle?” he asks.
At the aisle, while his son videotaped him, Reid exclaims, “Dude, look at all this cereal!”
He steps up to the aisle, then steps back as if to get a better view of the expanse of shelves. His son begs to buy his first box of cereal, and Reid picks the heart-shaped Honey Nut Cheerios. Then he asks to see the chip aisle.
“I can buy a wallet in here too?” he asks, incredulously, in the video.
What viewers do not see is the panic attack he had in Walmart, overcome by the sheer magnitude of the place and choices and all the bustling activity.
“It was just overwhelming, all the activity. It was just too much,” Reid explained in an interview. “God did not give me a spirit of fear. I got dressed and went to Walmart in the middle of the day and stayed until I felt acclimated.”
Viewers learn about some of the serious challenges faced by a person who’s been kept out of society for years. Reid talks about a guy bumping into him at a Chipotle without saying anything.
“I’m trained to respond in some ways,” he said, referring to how a bump might turn into a violent altercation in prison. “That accident showed me [life outside] is going to be an adjustment,” Reid said, adding that he still harbors some trauma from being attacked in his sleep.
In another video, he sits outside his mother’s house one quiet morning, talking about the peace he feels in that neighborhood.
“A hummingbird flew right by me and hovered,” he says, fluttering his fingers by one ear. “I was afraid to move. I need this peace.”
During this video, Reid somberly shares he is “having issues. In prison, I was very useful. Out here, there are a million of me. I’m trying to adjust. I need a job. I need something to do.”
In another video, he says the last time he was employed was 20 years ago.
“For my previous residence,” he supposes, “do I put ‘prison?’ I’m struggling with this. On paper, I look like a menace. Who wants a violent felon?”
Commenters offer Reid encouragement, urging him not to get discouraged: “At the end of the day,” one viewer wrote, “you can be honest when you’re at the interview and you’ve made a good impression.”
Off the screen, Reid has the support of friends and family cheering him on.
Donnie Gesaman, a tattoo artist who lives outside Charleston, South Carolina, served time with Reid, and they now speak regularly.
“I knew him at his worst and now we are back in contact, and I see him at his best,” Gesaman said. “I don’t think there’s anything he can’t accomplish.”
Reid’s son, Jordan, gave his father a GoPro for his YouTube channel. The two had only seen each other once in the last 20 years.