Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Another holiday gone past. At least it wasn't one of the depressing ones. Fed them hamburgers and little bags of plain nasty chips and the ones that weren't locked up got to play games out on the yard. Whoopie. Hmmm... I guess my attitude is showing. Been a bit of that lately. We really don't get paid enough for what we do. In the past five years I've been assaulted, spit at, kicked, had water, urine and feces thrown at me and once I was asked (albeit politely) to search through pools of blood in a cell to find a metal object an offender claimed he cut his wrist with. Turns out he used his thumbnail, but they didn't tell me that until I had already searched the cell. There are people who work on our camp who have never had these things happen to them and they've been there longer than I have. They don't get paid enough either. Basically in my observations, there are three different kinds of offenders in our prison. Those who are either crazy, dangerous, loud or stupid (or any combination thereof); those who are whiny and demanding and annoying; and the ones you never see and you don't even know they're there. Some days I think I would like to have a house full of the latter kind. But I'm sure I would go stir crazy after a day or two. I have gotten so used to the chaos of working in an AdSeg unit that anyplace else is strange and boring. I imagine it's like some of the guys who stepped back out of the jungles in Vietnam onto the suburban streets of America. You get so used to being alert and aware of your surroundings and trying to guess which way the other person will move that when the need for that goes away you feel like you are missing something. Granted, what I do is nothing like stalking through a jungle trying to kill someone before he kills you. I was a little too young to get involved in that one and I'm pretty happy about it. But it's enough every day that when I get dressed for work I feel as if I'm strapping on armor and getting ready to do battle. Of course, we don't get armor. We get polyester uniforms (whoever invented that stuff is a putz), a radio and a can of oleo capiscum (O/C) pepper spray. That's it. No gloves, no vests, no shin guards, no night sticks, no weapons at all but our brains and a bit of yearly training. And the hope that if you or someone else calls for help, that somebody will get there in time. Usually they do, but sometimes they don't and then people get hurt. That's what they pay us for. And not very much, at that. Someone told me once (I don't KNOW that it's true but I suspect it is) that we are the highest trained and the lowest paid Corrections Officers in the country. It's just not right. Granted, I don't work at Pelican Bay or Folsom, but it's still a dangerous and grinding environment and people do get hurt all the time. More money wouldn't fix that problem, but it would sure make getting up every morning and going to work seem a little easier.

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