Eriks Mackus was adopted at birth from a mother who was a drug addict and a father he never knew. In and out of legal trouble since the age of 12, the 22-year-old finally decided that he could stay clean.
He developed an interest in pressure pipe welding and eventually found himself gunning for “the Ph.D of welding” at Pinellas Technical Education Center.
There was one problem, though, and his instructor was quick to point it out to him. “It’s going to be difficult to get a job with those on your face.”
By “those,” instructor John Stiles was referring to Mackus’ facial tattoos.
From the original TampaBay.com report:
“One [tattoo] of the state of Florida dominated his right cheek, and Pinellas area code 727 covered the other. His Adam’s apple was hidden behind ‘187,’ the police call sign for murder. His fingers bore crude flames, and letters ran down his forearms spelling out ‘Cracka Mac,’ his gang name. His ear lobes had dollar signs.”
Eriks Mackus first tried the traditional methods of tattoo removal. He paid $150 for eight separate treatments ($1,200 altogether), but the marks had barely faded.
Then, in the months leading up to his test for that “Ph.D,” Mackus finally knew what he had to do.
He bought gauze and hydrogen peroxide, 18 Budweisers, “and a bottle of Sailor Jerry rum,” the news site reported.
Realizing that he couldn’t do the job in a drunken state, he enlisted the help of his friend Brian, a certified welder.
“They went to Brian’s house,” the site stated, “and Eriks drank all the beer and several shots of the rum. Brian put a small stainless steel wire bit on a Dremel tool. Eriks lay down on his back and held on to Brian’s leg.”
After that, things get gory, (and we’re about to show you a pic of it, so brace yourself).
Brian used the grinder and started with the 727, digging small trenches into Mackus’ face. Every time the wires etched in to Eriks’ skin, “it buzzed and sputtered and scattered flecks” of flesh.
Eriks would down a shot of rum after every stopping point.
“The worst part was when Brian poured rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide on the wound and scrubbed the dead skin with a steel wool pad. Tears trickled down Eriks’ face, but he didn’t scream.”
The Florida tattoo went a few weeks later, with the process going more smoothly. However, one slip did cause the wires to slice the corner of Mackus’ left eye, from which it would take “months” to heal.
In the end, Eriks Mackus took that final pipe test — and passed.
His story is an inspirational one to anybody who ever needed a second chance and would do anything for it. One look at the pictures will tell you just how much he wanted this.
Would you go to the lengths that Eriks Mackus did for a second chance to make something right? Share your thoughts in our comments section!
[Images from TampaBay.com, linked above]