I have been gone from work for nine days. Seems like months. Seems like hours. My vacation is over and it's time to go back inside the Hive.
Every time I leave for any extended period I experience a chill as soon as I step back inside the wire. A moment of almost panic as the reality of where I am settles in. It's almost like I need retrained before I can go back in safely. Ironically, this happens at least once a year after I have my annual week of training. (wry grin)
Last night as I was trying to settle in to sleep, I flipped through the teevee channels and found myself watching "Lockup" on MSNBC. I had never watched this show before. It's about prisons all over the country, if you haven't seen it. Pretty good show.
Not very settling for the mind, tho.
I kept seeing images and situations that would send an alert signal into my brain and I'd start up and think "Holy crap! That's what I do for a living!"
After they showed a segment where an officer got assaulted and nearly died, I changed the channels. I think I watched "CSI Miami" until I fell asleep.
I try to have fun at work. And I try to have fun here on the blog. I rant and rave about poop and blood and stupidity of both inmates and staff alike. I vent and blow and point fingers and say "WTF???"
But in the back of my mind is the thought that I could get seriously hurt or even killed doing what I do. I've been hurt a few times, but nothing bad. I have seen other staff get hurt pretty badly and always thanked providence that it wasn't me.
But someday it could be. All it takes is one moment of distraction. I try not to get distracted.
So I'll step inside the fence this afternoon and have my little moment of shivers. Then I'll get over it and keep my eyes open and do my job. Watch my own back and those of my fellow staff. I grow eyes in the back of my head and keep my hands free and try to never cross my feet so I can jump in any direction.
It's not a fun place to work. It can be comical in certain situations. But the reality of it is that prison is not a fun place to be, no matter what side of the door you are on.
And if I ever walk in and the shivers don't stop, then I'll turn around and walk back out again.
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