Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Napfight At The ZZZ Corral

Holy snap, I thought working the sally port was a boring gig.

Tonight I was down in the Laundry/Outside workers house. Talk about boring!

It's supposedly an "honor" house. The inmates work their way in there in order to get the cream pay jobs and the privileges that go along with it. Like having the keys to their own doors. And being able to come out of the rooms after count, when the rest of the camp is locked down.

And of course they abuse it. That house is reportedly the number one conduit for drugs and other illicit things (like cell phones) on the entire camp. It just goes to show... give an inmate a little bit of freedom and he'll head for the woodline with it.

Tonight when they were told to lock down for count, immediately several of them came wandering out of their rooms to go to the bathroom or get something out of the microwave....

I snarled at them.

They went back in.

Apparently I'm not warm and fuzzy.

I didn't much care for being down there and it showed, I guess. I'm thinking maybe I still have a bit of the ol' Hive mentality lurking around my subconscious. They are still inmates. And I knew quite a few of those faces and names so I know that they aren't the golden children. A good number of them were Hive-bound for drugs and other things at one time of another.

But for the most part, it was a really really really boring night. Kermit talked me into searching a few cells. I'm sure that left them scratching their heads. The half of the cell I searched was left fairly neat and orderly. I looked through their stuff without tearing anything up or dumping any of it on the floor. The half Kermit searched looked like a raccoon or a small bear had been into their stuff.

What the snap ever. There's just no teaching some people.

I think the high point of my day was starting out seeing Peggy Sue. She was coming back from visiting her new house and we gave each other this weird one-armed hug while we both tried not to burn the other with our cigarettes.

It was awkward, but cuddly.

Hmmm.... I wonder. Even though I quit for two weeks, I still kept getting hits, so did it count as going into my second year?

Judges? Your call.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What The.....

I'm pretty sure I said about two weeks ago that I was going to quit blogging.

But you people just keep coming back here.

I took a look at the statcounter just for grins and saw that 31 people hit this blog today and over 900 this month!

What the snap?

Now I may have to start writing again just to assuage my guilty feelings.

I'll think about it. No promises.

I had pretty good reasons at the time. There were alot of things going on in my head and I was having real problems dealing with them. Which was quite a change because usually there isn't anything going on in there at all.

Let's face it. I present myself as this rough tough "I don't give a snap" C.O. who beats up inmates for a living. I'm the bad cop. I'm the guy who is saying "Just spray that snaphead" when everyone else is still talking.

I'm the guy who wouldn't even publicly admit he had a heart, let alone one that could be broken.

But there it is. What a mess.

I'm getting better, I think. Time will tell.

Will I go back to blogging? I'm not really sure. I'm still working at the prison and stupid crap happens almost every day.

I'll give it some thought. Maybe over the weekend.

You'll be the first to know. I promise.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Time To Stop

When someone is faced with a task to do and asks me for directions, I invariably say "Start at the beginning, go to the end and then stop."

It's facetious, fatuous and snide, but then that's me.

But I believe I am going to take my own advice. It's time to stop.

I have noticed that my posts are getting shorter, lamer and less interesting. It has become what the investigator called it. "Nothing more than a daily journal. Boring."

So I'm going to quit now rather than just slide inexorably into obscurity.

It's been a good run. Another 17 days and I would have made it two years. Ah, well.

You guys made it worthwhile. I want to thank you.

I'll be seeing you around.

And let's be careful out there.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hot... Just Freaking Hot

"Man, it's a hot one...
Like seven inches from the midday sun..."
-Rob Thomas with Santana in Smooth

It felt like that today. I thought I was going to melt away into a little puddle.

Or rather, a big puddle.

I was leaving trails of sweat drops everywhere I went on the yard today. If I hadn't had the Watcher with me, keeping me distracted from my misery, I probably would have just fallen out.

But we hadn't had a chance to talk in awhile and both of us had really bad personal crap happening at home. So we spent most of the night swapping stories and telling our tales of woe and commiserating with each other.

It felt good to let some of it out. I felt a little better, even while I was miserable.

Working the yard is so draining in this kind of weather. By the time we closed the yards and I went to help JT count 1 house, I was staggering around like a drunkard. Even now, home and showered and changed and cooled off, I'm still limp as a dishrag. My mind and body are both shot.

And I get to do it all over again tomorrow. And on Thursday, when I get to do the Del Norte walk again.

O' summer, you horrible beast, will you never end?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Moving About

The one drawback to being a utility officer is that you never really know where you are going to be from day to day. I could write down the schedule for the whole week and it might be different by the time I am done writing it down.

When I came in yesterday I looked at where I was going to be today. Supposed to be 3 house. Cool, I can live with that. I know those guys.

By the time I had left last night I had gotten moved to 1 house. Well, okay. I know those guys too. A great crew. Yeah, okay. I can do that instead.

When I got in today the first thing Lt Gerber says to me is "I had to move you." Okey dokey! Where to now? The wobblehead house. Ohhhhhhhkey dokey, then!

For those of you who haven't been reading this drivel for the last two years, wobblehead is our term for the emotionally/mentally disturbed inmates, who spend most of their time tanked to the gills on thorazine and resperidol and other such fun things.

So I mosey on down to the house. I see a lot of very very familiar faces on the way down there. I go up into the bubble and grab the house rosters and start scanning names. How many of these knuckleheads did I have to slam or paint down in the Hive? How many of the have threatened to kill me?

Ummmmmmm........ pretty much all of them. All righty then! This could be interesting!

Turns out I was paranoid for nothing. Pretty much none of them wanted to have anything to do with me. Once there wasn't a closed cell door between us, anyway.

Hey, works for me.

Had a pretty uneventful night, for the most part. The only thing that happened was right at the end of shift when this knucklehead decided he was going on suicide watch. He didn't actually say that. What he said was he wanted to go on close observation. But unfortunately for him, we can't do that. The only thing we can do is put him on suicide watch.

Luckily for us, midnights showed up at just the right time and we handed him off to them.

That never happens. We took advantage of it and left.

I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth!

Friday, August 6, 2010


It was almost a bad thing.

I'd been having a pretty good night out on the yard. Just driving around in the cart as usual, talking to some of the knuckleheads.

I went up to Central to grab another bottle of water out of my lunchbox. Our new shack still isn't finished, so I keep it up there.

Lt. Gerber was playing shift commander tonight and when I went in he was on the phone, trying to get hold of the duty officer. And he was starting to look a little stressed out. Things in the office felt a little tense so I got my water and left.

About five minutes later, back on the yard cruising around when Control Center calls on the radio and closes the yards. Then they say "Lock down and prepare for a Code 23." Uh-oh. A name and number count at 7:30 at night? Two and a half hours early?

Snap! Something is wrong.

We get the yards cleared and Sgt Uncle T sends me and one of the OJT's down to make sure the chapel on our side is cleared and secured. Sometimes the chapel people don't listen to the radio. It was and we headed back and they finally called for the count.

And we waited...

And we waited....

And then we started getting nervous. Sgt Uncle T was laying out plans about which sets of keys we were going to get and who was going to be searching what buildings and pairing us up into teams. If somebody was missing we were going to have to determine if they were or were not still on the camp and pronto!

And then count cleared. H'ray!

Turns out that one of the P-car drivers had found a piece of a torn t-shirt hanging in the razor wire that he swore wasn't there when he went by before. And it apparently looked like the razor wire had been pulled down some.

They made the right decision in locking down for count.

But it was a little nerve wracking there for a bit.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Counting The Gear

I had a stupid night. I dropped nearly everything I touched and tripped over the stuff I dropped. At least I didn't break anything vital or expensive.

Then they sent me out in a car with a loaded shotgun.

It's a plain miracle that we all survived.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Other than the stupidity, I did manage to finally get my inventory of the Comm Room completed. But it was a trial, let me tell you.

Tonight, aside from "accounting" for all of the gear in there, I also counted them. Mostly just to get my mind off of other things and for my own curiosity.

We have, in the Comm Room:

272 radios, 25 of which are broken.

380 set of keys. And the number of individual keys in each set range from 1 to around 30.

And 60 pieces of miscellaneous equipment from restraints to metal detectors and bullhorns to body alarms.

Of those 380 sets of keys, 39 sets are the Emergency keys in the sealed cabinet and I hope I never have to touch any of them. It involves alot of paperwork and the cabinet only gets opened when things go really bad.

51 sets are Restricted. Only certain people can have those and if they aren't on the list, they don't get them. You have to know who is on the list so you don't give them to the wrong person. Luckily, they mostly only come in on my watch, and not go out.

The remaining 290 sets are available to almost anybody that works there, except the inmates. And most people have their favorite sets of keys and get cranky when other people check them out.

Oh, and all of those sets of keys are different. Most of them are just identified by a number. You have to know which set of keys belongs in which place. If you don't know, they just look at you like you are stupid.

I get lots of those looks.

So all in all, I have to physically account for over 700 individual pieces of equipment every night that I am up there.

Hell, I'm lucky I can find my own keys, most days.

Even if it is one day inside in the air conditioning, I suspect I may be in the wrong place.

The Hearts And Minds Of Tomorrow

I was in the Sergeant majors house tonight. Me and the Sergeant Major and the Menace and Donzarelli. Quite a crew.

Hotter than a ten dollar Rolex outside. I could barely stand to do a wing walk, let alone go outside. At least the freaking inmates can change into their shorts and run around without a shirt on outside. We're stuck wearing all of this crap for eight hours. I was sweating like a you-know-what in you-know-where.

And that's a lot, let me tell you.

Right after yards opened they sent us two OJT's. Two different ones than the ones Goosey and I had yesterday. Both were ex-military. I figured that was a good starting point. If they can get through basic training, then maybe they can make it here. Of course, basic aint nothing like it was when the Sergeant major and I went through. Nosirreebob! No "stress cards" back then!

One was a young guy. Hell, they were both young. Neither of them looked old enough to drive, let alone work in a prison. This dude was pretty cocksure and not really wanting to look weak or uncertain about anything. The Sergeant Major got him to pat search OG B out on the yard. Ol' B made some remarks about how soft the kids hands were and invited him up to his cell later for a little more private instruction. The kid didn't say anything, but he sure could blush!

The other OJT was a young lady from up in The City. She saw her very first live skunk today. She had never actually seen one before and I was just dumbfounded. There was one rooting around in the trash and I made a noise to get it's attention then got her as close as she was willing to go. And every time that little critter twitched it's tail she was ready to make a run for the house.

It was funny as hell.

So I filled her in on all of the assorted critters I have encountered inside the fence in the last seven years. The skunks and the cats and the mice and the bunnies and snakes and bats and the cockroaches.

And of course, the ghosts. I couldn't forget those.

I think I taught her a few useful things, too. Gave her a few tips about life inside the fence.

Maybe even told her something that might save her life or someone else.

But mainly I just freaked her out.

It's a wonder that they let me loose among live people at all.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

At The Last Freaking Minute....

Of course, it's always at the last freaking minute. Stupid people.

**siggghhhh*** They keep me in business, I guess.

It had been pretty much a nothing night. So much a nothing night that I was seriously thinking about packing this whole blog thing in.

It's been so long since I have had anything substantive or entertaining to say.

Getting to the point of being more of a chore than a hobby.

I started this to be a vent. And when I don't have anything to vent about, then I don't really have that much to say.

But tonight.... tonight I have something to vent about.

Like I said, it had been pretty much a nothing night. Just me and Goosey and Sgt Uncle T on the yard. Just doing yard dawg stuff. Riding around in the carts, mostly. Nothing.

The yards were closed for the evening. All of the houses on our side had plenty of people so we didn't have to go help count anywhere. Which was good, as I wasn't in the mood to be trapped in the bubble with the Mad Bomber tonight.

Goosey and I were just sitting at the table outside with a couple OJT's, swapping stories about the good old days and making their young impressionable eyes wide with wonder and awe. We were in the middle of count, which meant nobody was moving any inmates anywhere so we had nothing better to do.

When all of the sudden there was this horrible caterwauling on the radio. Like someone feeding a bagpipe through a meat grinder. We could not understand a word of what was said, all we knew was that something was going on and it sounded bad.

Someone, and I don't know who...... seems to get a little tooooo excited on the radio. It took a couple of repeats before we heard that it was a fight in laundry.

So Goosey and I, with our faithful OJT's in tow, went racing down the hill towards the laundry gates.

Here's a problem. There are only three sets of keys for the laundry. One set stays with the officer and does not actually ever come inside the institution. One other set is down in the wobblehead house in a locked box that nobody is sure which keys will open. And you have to have the Captains permission to open that box even if you did know which key it was. The third set is locked in a sealed box in the Com Room. And again, you need the Captains approval to open that box.

There is only one officer and three or four civilians working in the laundry with well over a hundred inmates. If anything really bad ever went down in that place they would just be screwed because it takes too long to get hold of the keys to get in.

So we got to handle two lockups right before shift change, which is always nice. And I got to escort an inmate across the yard in the middle of count, which is a big no-no.

Not making a good impression on the new people, that's for sure.

And whoever made that stupid radio call/scream needs to be slapped.