I have a client who is in inpatient treatment for meth addiction. She called me the other day, asking about getting the tattoo on her neck removed, as she’s reached the level of the program where she can begin working again. I guess there are only certain places you can find jobs when you have a visible gang tattoo on your neck. She wanted out of those type of jobs, even after just a few months of sobriety. A good sign, I guess. Her tattoo is of the number 13, apparently for the 13th Street Surenos. I’ve never asked her about it, but it’s hard to miss the numbers.
Last Sunday morning, when I woke up early, put the kayak on top of the car and kayaked around an almost deserted lake about a mile from my house in West Omaha, I saw this same symbol spray-painted on a concrete wall as I passed under a bridge, between a couple boats. The letters “Sur” were scrawled beneath it, a symbol of a South Omaha gang about 10 miles from 13th street, on the edge of the suburbs.
The morning kayak ride was a good way to forget about the pain, the violence and the drug addiction I deal with all the time. But the symbol, close to home, was a reminder that the problems on 13th street will eventually show up on our own streets if they’re not properly addressed.
My client tells me she’s heard of free laser tattoo removal of gang tattoos and wants to ask her friend about it. I thought of approaching the prominent Omaha dermatologist, the guy who founded lovelyskin.com, and asking him to donate a free laser tattoo removal, a reward six months of sobriety.
Do you think he’ll laugh? Since he probably lives “out west” where I do, I can show him the gang symbol on the bridge, tell him that if he takes the gang symbol off her neck, I’ll find a way to remove the sign from his neighborhood.
Do you think there’s a chance?