Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Working In A Junkyard

We work in a prison that doubles as a junkyard.

Sure, we're hard on stuff. It's a prison. Somebody should be making tough things to last in a place like this.

Sgt LB told me one while he was in Iraq that his laptop accidentally got dragged underneath his HMMWV for twenty miles and when he got to a safe place and drug it out from underneath the vehicle, all he had to do was blow the sand out of it and it worked fine.

Why can't we get stuff made like that?

Well, because we're a low priority podunk prison in a mostly bankrupt state, that's why. So we have to settle for whatever used junk they can scrape together for free or less. As with most government agencies, we get what the lowest bidder offers because that's the way it's done.

In the meantime, all of the cheap junk they bought us is falling apart as fast as it's getting shipped in. I think we got some fifty new microphones for our radios a couple of months ago and already most of them are broken. Why? Because they were cheap to begin with.

And, we're hard on stuff.

Working in a prison isn't brain surgery or rocket science. Which is a bloody good thing around here. There would be alot of accidentally lobotomized people making things blow up if it were.

But even the simple stuff..... the things that could get fixed and fixed right with one guy and a tool belt can't ever get fixed. You notice something is broken and you put in a work order. Then you wait and wait and wait..... and while you're waiting, the thing gets more broken.

And by the time they get around to fixing it..... "Well, it's too broken. And we can't afford to replace it. You'll just have to do without. There's no money."

I'll bet the governor and his staff aren't sitting around in government surplus reject chairs in front of desks held together with duct tape. And I'll bet if his stuff gets broken it gets fixed mighty fast!

The rate things are going there's going to be nothing left but the fences soon.

And even they don't look too healthy.

Ahhh..... Tomorrow is Stay At Home Because You're Well Day.

"Sorry. Can't come in. Feel too good! Might be out all week! I'll be back when I feel worse, okay?"

I can see that going over big....

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Night At The Opera

For my friday they gave me a 2-10 spot down in the wobblehead house. That aint bad.

I was really hoping I was going to get to work with Sgt Miz P, since it's her house. But alas, Sgt Archer is still out in the woods playing "Deer Whisperer" so they pulled Miz P to the yard.


It wasn't too bad, tho. I had Bubbles and the Grif and PB from the yard came in and hung out most of the night.

Miz Bubbles is a riot to work with and she laughs like a chicken on crack. And she does this often. She is with laughing like the Mad Bomber is with ranting. Just poke her with a stick and she can go for hours.

There had been this mention of singing opera earlier in the night and I didn't know exactly what they were talking about.

Until count time, that is. Just as we were coming through the crossover door from C-wing into D-wing she turns and lets out this note over my shoulder reminiscent of some of the note Jo Anne Worley used to do on Laugh In. If you are old enough to remember that show, you'll know what I mean.

For a second or two I probably looked a bit like the guy in those old Memorex ads.

I'm pretty sure she almost blew my hat off. And maybe the rest of my hair with it.

I said "Good Gawd woman! Sounds like someone stepped on a snake!"

She just laughed (go figure) and went back to counting.

I think my ears are still ringing.

So tomorrow is Pins And Needles Day. Ooooo... I'm all tingly....


Oh yeah. I got hosed. Big time. And by somebody I had just done something nice for.

You can't trust anybody around this place, lemme tell you. If there had been a petard handy, I would have been hoist right up by it. Luckily for me, there's a severe lack of petards in this area.

Since it was Thanksgiving, the wife made up a couple batches of cookies and sent in two little buckets full of them in with me. One of them was for me and the crew and whoever happened to wander by and the other went up to the Lieutenants office.

She remembers working with them and still likes most of them. And heck, it never hurts to suck up just a little now and then, right?

So after a cold wet icy rainy night (I'll get back to that later) I end up doing count and relief in 6 house. While I'm counting Sgt Major taps on the window and shows me a note to call the Lt's office. I rolled my eyes. Figured I was going to get stuck working a double or something.

I call up there and Lt Gerber says "Hey, your cookie bucket is up here by the computer. Don't forget to pick it up. They were good, by the way, thanks!"

I told him no problem and said as how I was glad to have a place to take stuff like that when the wife gets in the baking mood. I said "If I ate all of the stuff she baked all of the time, I could be a captain!"

It's a long running inside joke. But many of our captains are a bit larger than life sized.

A few moments after I hang up the phone rings again. This time it's Captain DoubleM and she does not sound happy. "What this about eating all of those cookies and getting big as a captain?"

I stood there with my mouth flapping uselessly for a few seconds and she can't take it anymore and starts laughing. She tells me Gerber fronted me out and told her what I said so she couldn't resist making me squirm.

Sucker rolled on me. No more cookies for him! The rotten dog.

We got a little bit of ice and a few snow flurries today. Not enough to stick or get bad, but the wind had a definite bite to it.

When I went to do my Del Norte check, the sallyport gate had frozen shut and wouldn't open. So I had to go around and come in from the other side and take the torch with me. A good thing I took it because all of the gates were frozen shut and I had to heat them all up to get the keys to work. One gate I had to torch open twice because it had refrozen shut by the time I got back to it. What a pain.

And of course the doors on my truck had frozen shut as well when it was time to leave. Thought I was going to wrench my arms out of their sockets trying to get inside.

Tomorrow is Shopping Reminder Day.

No, I think I'll just have to pass on that one, thank you. No black friday shopping for me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's That Time Again

It's that time of year when the weather starts to get really interesting again. I always say if the weather isn't trying to kill you, then it's just another ho-hum day.

Around these parts, the weather could get convicted for felonious assault with intent to kill.

This evening a pretty thick fog rolled in. Visibility dropped to under 100 yards. So we went into a code 17. That's when we put out an extra p-car and divide the zones into three parts. And instead of just answering alarms like we usually do, you check all of your zones and report in every fifteen minutes.

Kind of a pain in the buh-tocks, but it was something different for a change. And driving around in that fog was making me a little paranoid. If I was an inmate intent on escape, that's the kind of thing I would have been waiting for.

Luckily it only lasted a couple of hours before it lifted and blew away.

Of course now there's severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings just south of here and possibly heading this way.

Ayup! Theah's a stahm comin' Mahtha! I can just hear it now.....

Well, for those of you who are going to be out and about with family tomorrow, have a happy Thanksgiving. And for those of you (like me) who are going to be at work, you try and have a happy one too, the best you can. Also, besides being Thanksgiving, tomorrow is also National Parfait Day.

If I could just remember what the snap a parfait was, I'd be fine.

Well, whatever it is, have a happy one! And let's be careful out there....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Taking A Sick Day

I finally went to see my doctor again. And he was, as usual, most accommodating.

Of course, he had to give me a ration of grief over over-stressing my arm again. I had to make many promises to take it easier this time.

So no more hat racks for awhile, I guess. My projects will just have to lie fallow in the shop for the time being.

He gave me another steroid shot in the elbow which hurt like crazy. But that only last for a moment. Now it's just a dull ache.

He also gave me Demerol to get me through the pain of the steroid freeze. I can tell that if I hadn't taken a pain killer, that my elbow would be extremely painful right about now.

That's the good thing about pain killers, I guess. It still hurts, but I don't care. I am severely buzzed.

You can probably tell. If you could see me typing this you would probably laugh as I sit here trying to force words to come out of my fingers. It aint easy, let me tell you.

But tomorrow, if history serves, my elbow will be right as rain, at least for the next few weeks. All I have to do is get through tonight. At this point that doesn't seem to be a problem.

Tomorrow should be interesting. It's Use Even If Seal Is Broken Day.

What the hey. Live a little!

As for me, I'm going to take a nap.


There are some things that just shouldn't be mixed.

Or, I should say, there are certain people who shouldn't be mixed with me.

That idiot I was paired with tonight being the prime example. I've written about him before and once gave him some sort of clever nickname which I can't remember right at the moment. I'll just go ahead and call him Frankenjerk for the time being. It fits him.

At least I didn't really have to work with him. I only saw him every two hours. The Lt stuck me in the P-car/Sallyport tonight. And Frankenjerk was the other half. I swapped off with him every two hours. Thankfully, I only had to interact with him for a few minutes.

Aside from being thoroughly annoyed the night was pretty much uneventful.

Well, pretty much.

One of our microwave sensors developed a glitch and the zone alarm kept going off all night long. I think they called for us to check that zone at least fifteen times in eight hours. Though I do suspect that some of those calls were just yanking my chain. I made the mistake of letting Vinnie know it annoyed me so I think he added a few extra calls in just to twist my tail a little bit.

Ah well, it's all in good fun. And it gave me something to do while I was out there driving around doing nothing. It's too bad there wasn't something to do in my four hours in the sally port. Except for my ludicrous relief, I saw nobody and did nothing. Well, I did manage to read 196 pages of a book. That's something, I guess.

And while I was in the P-car I did get to see something a little bit startling. The back road of our perimeter is also a public road. And right behind the prison is the county jail. Occasionally we get to see somebody who has just gotten released walking down the road.

I'm driving down the road in the dark and I see someone walking and he's waving something to get my attention. I slow down some distance away (like I'm supposed to) and look. Here's this idiot walking down the road wearing nothing but sneakers, yellow swim trunks and a hat waving his release papers at me.

He says "Hey, man. You got a phone I can borrow?"

I shake my head. "Nope."

Then he says "Can I bum a cigarette, then?"

I just shake my head and drive on. I stop just inside our property to make sure he keeps going down the road. What a doofus.

Yesterday my Dad calls me from Washington and says they are getting their first snow of the season. Yesterday here it was almost seventy degrees. Tonight we were under a tornado watch and a severe thunderstorm warning. It rained and flashed like crazy but that's all. But a few people said they saw hail on their way in to work this evening. I'm glad I missed it.

On the up side, I got hugs from two really good smelling girls on the way out tonight. Sometimes it really pays to be me.

Today was Start Your Own Country Day. I'm sorry I missed that one. But tomorrow is Cashew Day. Yay! I love them things. What better way to say "I love you" than with a bag of cashews? Get in line and get yours early! I'm sure the supplies won't last!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It Don't Mean A Thing If It Aint Got That Twang!

They stuck me out on A-yard tonight. It's almost like being in alien territory, I get over there so seldom.

And Sgt Buck does things his way. There's no doubt about that. And it's different. Not bad, just different.

I used to think Buck didn't like me much. Maybe he doesn't, but tonight he didn't let it show. And he actually thanked me for my help at the end of the night, which was different.

Last night was supposed to be my night to do the long walk. The Del Norte. But we had a new guy on the yard so Sgt Uncle T had him do it instead. Sweet!

But tonight I was in the Fireman's spot and it was supposed to be his night, so I got to do it after all. No big deal. It was a crispy cool night and the walk warmed me up nicely.

So I went in the sally port and banged on the first fence zone and wondered who would be answering the radio. And my luck! It was Miz Twang! Oh joy... She has the sweetest little southern drawl you ever heard over a radio. I trotted through the first eight zones just waiting for the right one.

Walk up to the fence and give it a good rap.

"Alarm zone naaahn!"

Hee hee hee! "Copy zone naaahn!" I can't resist making fun of her.

Hell, if I didn't poke fun she'd think I was mad or something.

So I finished the rest of the walk with a smile on my face. It was worth it.

We are so short of people right now I had to count and relieve down in four house. That means the instead of just helping count and going back to the yard, I had to stay there until midnights showed up.

I'm telling you, there's some people here you don't want to be trapped in a bubble with for an hour and a half. But I got lucky. The Bear ended up spending a month or so on our shift so I stayed down there with him until we were relieved. Me and him get along pretty well. We just swapped BS Hive stories the whole time.

Well! Checking the list I see that tomorrow is Absurdity Day. Sometimes it seems like every day working in a prison is like that. We go whole months at a time hip deep in absurdities.

Just remember, if you can't say something nice tomorrow, say something absurd!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Like Trading Cards

I should probably come right out and say right up front that if you are a woman you might be offended by the contents of this post.

But I'll also say that if you do get offended at me, then you're probably too sensitive.

I'm just saying.

Anyway, I found this note on the yard tonight. To me, it represents an insight into how inmates view and objectify women. Not all of the inmates, but a good proportion of them.

To some inmates, women are objects and nothing more. Things to be used until they no longer give what is wanted and then thrown away. But since nothing of any value whatsoever is thrown away in prison, they are traded like baseball cards or marbles for something else.

The only ones considered inviolate to this are mothers, grandmothers and daughters. But any other woman is fair game. In some places and with some inmates, nothing is sacred. They will sell you pictures of their sisters and children for the right price. And for a little extra, give you their phone numbers.

At any rate, this note has four names and phone numbers on it. All women, of course. I suspect from the way it was folded that whoever wrote it forgot there was another number at the top.

The note on the side says "Here is 3 b*tch."

The notation at the bottom reads: "I only got 2 more pic and it is my baby momma. I got some pic of my fam."

I've seen notes like this before. Mostly down in the Hive. The inmate writing them obviously wants to trade for something or owes somebody some debt and is offering these women and any pictures of women he knows (including his family pictures) as a trade.

You have to wonder what these women will think when some new inmate starts calling their number. But then, maybe they will end up with someone better than the guy who just gave them away like some third round draft pick from a farm team. Then again, maybe they're used to it, I don't know.

I remember a set of xeroxed pictured of some fairly attractive girl that made the round for well over a year. Every inmate who ended up with her picture swore it was his girlfriend.

She must have been one busy girl.

The whole thing is kind of sad and pathetic and a little sickening when you look real close at it. When women went from being wives and girlfriends and family to being nothing but "b*tches"..... Well, it's no wonder our society is a screwed up as a soup sandwich.

Oh dear. Tomorrow looks like a good day to stay in bed and hide under the covers. According to the list tomorrow is Have A Bad Day Day.

I sure hope nobody does. Or at least nobody I know.

Let's be careful out there.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Be Like Mongo!

Well, there I was.... Sitting in the P-car and thinking to myself "Well, at least it finally started raining. Now I'll have something to write about."

I was beginning to despair on having any inspiration at all.

Then Vinnie wandered out front for a smoke. So I drove up and parked next to him and we chatted for a moment or two.

And he told me this story and I couldn't resist it.

It seems that this weekend Vinnie and his new bride were driving somewhere out towards where there starts to be a bit of "country" around, if you know what I mean.

Around here you don't have to drive very far to find that.


Suddenly a deer leaps out into the road in front of the car. Vinnie slams on the brakes and swerves to try and miss it, but no such luck. Car and deer collide. The deer flies to the side of the road and the car pulls over.

They're okay. Don't worry. But the car and the deer were both a mess. The deer was laying there with four or five of it's legs broken. The cars grill was smashed along with the windshield.

The deer is laying on the side of the road and Vinnie goes over and stands with his foot on the deers neck to keep it from moving. He's a little pissed off.

So he gets out his cell phone to call his brother, who happens to be at deer camp at that moment and says "Hey, you want this deer? Come get me and the wife and the car and the deer and you can have the dang thing."

The deer starts trying to move around like it's going to get up and he starts yelling "Stay on the ground! Stay down, you son of a buck! Stay down!"

Like the deer could understand him.

It's Vinnie, what do you expect?

The thing slips out from under his foot and tries to get up. Vinnie hands the cell phone to his wifeling and leans down and punches the deer in the head and knocks it cold. Miz Vinnie is on the phone with somebody and she says "Oh my gawd! Vinnie just punched a deer in the head!"

So his brother gets free deer meat without firing a shot. Vinnie gets a broken car and a sore hand and (I suspect) a little more machismo respect from the missus.

And me, I get a story to tell.

At least it was better than the last deer hunting story I heard. One guy a few years back was on a first date with some girl when he hit a deer with his truck. After making sure she's all right, he gets out to look at the deer. It's pretty busted up, laying in the ditch and bleating in pain. He looks in his truck for a knife to cut it's throat with and can't find so much as a nail file. The only thing in there (since he cleaned it out for his date) was his bag of golf clubs.

So he beats the deer to death with a nine iron. I know it sounds cruel, but it was the only thing to do.

And, being a hunter and not wanting to waste the meat, he tosses in the back of the truck.

It turns out his new date was both a vegan and heavily into PETA.

They never did get a second date.

Well, that's all I have tonight. It rained. And I heard a good story.

Some nights are like that.

Oh my. I just checked the list and tomorrow is Occult Day. Great. And I work in a haunted prison. Ohhhhhh..... boy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Money In The Bank?

I got quite a lucrative job offer today.

I'd almost forgotten that I had been offered this job a couple of years ago. I'm glad I didn't take it then, because I'd still be waiting for the paycheck, but apparently the job is still open.

One of the inmates down in wobblehead-land.... I'll call him Mr. Smith, but he much prefers Dr. Smith, because he has a degree in something...... I think he said he's a Psychiatrist..... Or something like that.

At any rate, he has developed this ground breaking new program for treating offenders. He has it all typed up and said today that he talked with one of the assistant wardens about implementing it here. It has a snazzy acronym.... something like GRUB or GRAB or something like that.

Claims it will revolutionize the corrections field all over the country.

And you have to believe the man, after all he's been a Force Recon Marine and an ROTC instructor in both weapons and hand to hand combat. He was also a Colonel in the police force somewhere up north in one of the big cities.

Plus, he used to play basketball with Barack Obama when they were both younger and he should be hearing from him real soon. Apparently there used to be some hard feelings between them because Barack thought Dr. Smith was trying to take Michelle away from him. But he says she's too skinny.

So anyway he's offering to pay me $140,000 a year (to start) and insurance and full benefits, paid sick days and vacation, just to get his program off the ground. He saw me tackle some other offender down in the Hive a few years ago and likes the way I handle myself. He says that's what got me the job.

I allowed as how I was getting a bit old to be tackling people like that and he told me that in his new program if an offender got out of control, I'd be allowed to shoot them.

Of course you've probably realized by now that Dr. Smith is nuttier than a hat full of wet hamsters.

But he's entertaining.

And I could really do alot with $140,000 a year. That's a whole lotta comic books!

Tomorrow is Take A Hike Day. So if you happen across anybody whom you need to tell that to, wait until tomorrow. It'll be the perfect day for it. Oooo, I've got a whole list of them! Yowza!


Well, here we go again. Deer season. And we all know what that means, don't we?

Yup. It means every single person in the state who is in possession of a rifle and at least one eye is going to be standing out in the woods from sunup to sundown taking pot shots at anything that moves and looks even remotely like a deer.

And after sundown they will be drinking anything with a neck on it.

Think about that for just a second.

Gave you a little chill, didn't it?

And since it's deer season that means that we will be running with less staff on hand than usual. And that really sucks.

They've already cut our staffing quite a bit with their little shenanigans last year and now a quarter of our staff is going to be out in the woods alternately drinking and shooting at things for the next two weeks.

We are all hoping that they will keep those two activities as separate from each other as possible. We don't want to come in and find the major tied to somebody's bumper.

Well...... No. We don't. That would be bad.


So we'll be running a bit short staffed here for a bit. Pulling down the yards and the houses to what we absolutely can't live without.

It makes shift a little difficult at times, being so short handed.

But we will survive. And hopefully all of our intrepid hunters will survive and return victorious. I like deer meat, too. I just don't much care for hunting. I'm hoping for lots of deer sausage and deer chili in the future.

So, looking at the list I see that tomorrow is Button Day. I have absolutely no idea what that means. Like a button on your shirt? Or the big red button marked "Do Not Push"?

Because you know some nimrod will push the damn thing, anyway.

Let's save that for another day, shall we?

And by the way.... Here's a private message for St. Francis: It wasn't me mumbling on the radio and you can blow it out your pie hole, weenie boy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Trying To Stay Busy, But...

A couple of weeks ago I came up with an idea for more stuff to hang on the walls in my office. Just random gears to go along with the hat rack I made awhile back.

I made one and it was a pain in the butt so I thought I might try to refine the process a little bit. Of course, if I wasn't so retentive about making things the way I think they should be made, I could have had a dozen of them by now.

Still making them out of scrap plastic laying around my shop. Still making them out of multiple layers so they have that 3-d effect.

And my gol-danged tendinitis is acting up so bad I can hardly even pick up my jigsaw. I'm just nowhere as good with the thing left handed.

I really need to get back to the doctor for another shot. But oooooh! I don't want another shot.

Anyway, I thought I would make four more gears, doing two of them at a time. Just sandwiched two pieces together with some double sided sticky tape and traced out my patterns. I cut the outside edges with the bandsaw and that worked just fine.

But when I tried to cut two of the insides with the jigsaw, everything went wonky. The plastic is too thick and it bends the blade and heats it up really fast so I have to switch blades about every 30 seconds or the plastic will start to melt.

The hardest bits are those little holes in the body of the gear itself. I'm going to have to take them apart and do each one separately. What a pain. Ah well, it's a learning process.

I've tried all of the power tools I own to find something that will do those small cuts without melting, but I'm afraid it's no good. Pfui.

Even as I'm writing this I keep pausing because I'm giving myself new ideas on how to do it differently and better... Yeah. Dang. Now I really need to go to the doctor. Gotta get feeling better so I can try this stuff out.

Today was Operating Room Nurse Day. Hmm... Glad I stayed home for that one. And tomorrow is Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day! Take all of those leftovers to work and share them with your co-workers. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Environmental Weapons

There's a space in the Use Of Force Continuum (remember I talked about that quite some time ago?) where you are allowed to use what we term "environmental weapons".

That means that if you feel that you are in enough jeopardy that you might be allowed to employ up to deadly force in defending yourself or a fellow officer, anything goes.

An environmental weapon is anything that you may have at hand, including chairs, sticks, filing cabinets or rocks. You could use your keys or even your radio to beat someone upside the head with it if necessary.

The inmates, of course, follow no such rules. They have no code of conduct. They don't much worry about losing their jobs, if you know what I mean.

So in that sense when I find something inside the fence that I deem might be a handy weapon I try to get it outside the fence as soon as possible.

The three chunks of rock pictured above all ended up inadvertently coming home either in my coat pockets or in my lunchbox when I forgot to toss them out once I was outside. There are many many more of them that got tossed outside the fence.

I could probably pick up one sharp rock bigger than my fist every single day for the next twenty years and not make a good dent in the supply.

And that's not to mention the bits of metal and broken glass and screws and nails I've picked up and disposed of over the last seven years. I could probably have filled a small dumpster by now.

There's nothing that can be done about them other than get them outside when we find them. In that case I can look at each one and say "Well, at least that one won't be used against anybody in here."

It makes me feel like I'm contributing something.

Making the world safer on rock at a time. Huh-yeah.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quit Freaking Mumbling!

You know, the radios we have are almost idiot proof. All you have to do is push the button and talk into it. When you do that other people can hear you.

When you want other people to hear you, you push the button and talk into the freaking mike!

Put it somewhere near your mouth and talk into the freaking mike!

I guess I wasn't specific enough before.

So quit freaking mumbling, fer gawds sakes!

I did say almost idiot proof, didn't I?

Had to spend most of the night tonight turning my radio up and holding my mike up to my ear going "What was that? Were they talking to me?" And of course when somebody did manage to speak in a normal tone of voice it was so loud it almost took what little hair I have left right off.

Half of the people were mumbling and the other half weren't listening.

For a holiday evening when it was supposed to be an easy night for everybody, it sure was aggravating. Nothing really big, just a bunch of small aggravating crap that made the whole night a little bit clusterf*cky.

I think I just invented an new adjective there. Clusterf*cky. Hmm... I kind of like that.

At any rate, nobody got hurt and nobody escaped. Mark another victory down for us!

Tomorrow is National Pizza With The Works Except Anchovies Day.

You don't see many holidays that specific anymore. What if the anchovy crowd gets offended? Somebody might sue! Ah, to heck with 'em.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm Saving Money, But Is It Worth It?

When I first started with the department, lo these many years ago, I thought that it would provide me with an opportunity to save some money.

I could get one free meal a day and free haircuts. I figured that would help me save some cash in the long run.

So I tried my first state meal. And then started bringing my dinner after that. Now I eat on the states dime about once a month. I've always been a finicky eater anyway and I should have known that wasn't going to work.

Then I went and got my hair cut. I sat down in the chair and said "Leave the sideburns, just trim up the sides and get it up off of my ears."

The first thing this moron does is "Yonk!" with the clippers and takes off one of my sideburns.

Ten minutes later when I'm done chewing him out I sit back down in the chair and his hands are shaking so bad he did a crappy job of the rest of it. And I'm so mad I could hardly see straight. I told him he better find another job. I damn near sprayed him for that I was so pissed off.

And right then and there I decided never to let another inmate cut my hair. Even though almost everybody else does it.

Of course after being down in the Hive so long, I'd had so many of them threaten to kill me that there was no way I was going to let an inmate near my head with a cutting device. Let alone stand behind me like that.

Yeah, I'm paranoid. I can admit that.

The other night I'm up in the Moon Room again. Nuts and Butts. I think the Lt. likes putting me in there. He sends me there alot.

The strip room is right next door to the staff barber shop. I've been meaning to go get a trim for a couple of weeks now but haven't had the money. I pay fifteen bucks a pop to a very nice lady up the street who knows exactly what I want. In the way of a haircut, that is.

So I look in and the inmate is nobody I have ever dealt with. If I don't know him, he probably doesn't know me either and probably holds no grudges. He's doing nothing but watching teevee so I stroll in and tell him "Leave the sideburns and trim the whole mess down to about a quarter of an inch long." Then I look him dead in the eye and say "Leave the friggin' sideburns, understand?"

He got it.

But his idea and my idea of a quarter of an inch were a little different. By about half. I now look like a fuzzy gray peach with sideburns.

Ah, well. It saved me fifteen bucks and I'll probably be able to go longer than a month before I need another one. And I'll probably start letting it get a little longer now that winter is coming on. Don't want no frost bite on my head bone.

We all have to make sacrifices........ **sigh**

So tomorrow is not only Veterans Day (and Rememberance Day for you Canadians in the crowd) but Air Day as well. After all, what's a day without air? Remember to breathe! Yeah!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Brick 'Em, Danno!

So I heard this story tonight about an incident that happened several years ago. It was a pretty inventive solution and possibly a deterrent for at least one offender.

When an offender gets a conduct violation, he has to see the "team" who measures out whatever punishment they are able to for the violation. The punishment can range from room or activity restriction for a number of days to sending them down to the Hive and even recommending for prosecution, depending on the nature of the violation.

Years ago, the team was a caseworker and an assistant caseworker and a Sergeant. Nowadays it's usually just one caseworker or an assistant.

But on this particular day it was all three of them in the office with this one certain offender.

I won't say who all was involved, just in case the statute of limitations hasn't passed yet.

The conversation went something like this:

Caseworker One: "Well, this is a pretty serious violation, here. What do you think we should give him?"

Sarge: "Heck, I dunno. Whatever you guys think is appropriate. I'll go along with it."

Caseworker Two: "I think you should check the book."

Caseworker One looks through the rule book then throws it down in disgust and says "Heck, we've tried everything else. I'm afraid we're going to have to brick him."

Caseworker Two: "No! Not that!"

Inmate: "Brick me? What are you talking about?"

Caseworker One pulls out two bricks and lays one on the table. He holds the other one a few inches above the first one.

Caseworker One: "You lay your p*cker on this here brick and I smack them together."

The inmate jumps up, both hands over his crotch saying "No way, man! I don't want that!!!"

Caseworker Two: "How about we just give you ten days room restriction instead? Would you go for that?"

Inmate: "Yeah! Yeah! I'll do that! I don't want you smashin' my stuff with no brick, man!"

The inmate signs the paper and goes to lock himself down, thinking he got off with a lighter punishment. Probably with his hands still covering his crotch every time he thinks about it.

The Sergeant looks at the two caseworkers and says "You know you guys are completely crazy, right?"

Caseworker One: "It worked, didn't it?"

And what's sad is if we tried something like that today we'd get fired.

One day when I was fairly new and didn't know any better, I caught an inmate dong something dumb. It wasn't anything big, it was just dumb. He should have known better. So I made him write "I won't ever do (whatever it was) again" 100 times before the end of my shift.

Boy, I caught nine kinds of hell for that. Apparently they consider that to be "corporal punishment" and we aren't allowed to mete out that sort of punishment. And I was told I could get fired for that. But since I was new and promised not to do it again they let me off with a warning.

I guess it was a real good thing I didn't offer to smack his d*ck with a brick.

You'd think that since the word "Corrections" figures so largely in our name, that we would be allowed some leeway in actually trying to correct something.

But that's not going to happen any time soon.

Today was Chaos Never Dies Day. I think I forgot to mention that last night. It was fitting. And tomorrow is Forget Me Not Day. I think they are referring to the flowers, but you just can't tell, sometimes. Whatever it means, have a happy one!

Then And Now

I know I complain alot here about the working conditions and the abysmal pay. I probably should be thankful that I have a job at all right now.

But that still doesn't make it right that they treat us like inmates and we have the second lowest pay in the country. I'm not sure who is lowest right now. It varies back and forth. Heck, it might be us again.

But I'm sure as hell glad I didn't start doing this back in the day when the state was new and the first prison was built.

Back in the early 1800's, the state appropriated $25,000 to build the first prison. And that was a hell of a lot of money back then. And even then the officers were the low man on the totem pole. Let me read you an excerpt from a book about the state I found in a drawer somewhere:

"Certainly one of the things they could not afford to cut back on was the already meager salary they were paying guards. The first guards at the Raccoon City Penitentiary were paid $130.00 a year. Thus from the very beginning of the operation of the State Prison, the payment of the guards was a problem. For the next 150 years low salaries for correctional workers generally, and guards specifically, would perhaps be the main reason for the continuously high turnover rate."

And here's a little bit from later on in the 1930's:

"With jobs scarce as they were in the 1930's, men were eager to become prison guards. A 36 year retired corrections officer remembers how excited he was in 1938 upon being told he had landed one of those coveted positions. Folks back home envied his $138 a month salary. Never mind that he was told he would need to buy two of the three pieces of required equipment: a whistle and a blue serge suit ("uniforms" would not come until 1955). The third piece of equipment, a small club, would be made for him by an inmate. Never mind, also, that he would be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for his $138, that he would always work at least a 48 hour week, and often a good deal longer, and never receive overtime pay, sick leave, insurance, or other fringe benefits."

Okay. Screw that. I'm glad I was doing something else for a living back then.

Even though I think we have it rough now, I'm glad I wasn't working here back in those days.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that if you compared the cost of living back then to now, I'm probably taking home the equivalent of that same $138 a month. Maybe if you counted in my insurance it would go up to a whole $140.

As far as I can tell, Bob Barker is the only guy who ever got rich off of the prisons. And he got to play with Carol Whatsername, too.

Man, did I take a wrong turn somewhere, or what?

Friday, November 5, 2010


There has been one thing that has been a real difficult adjustment for me going from the Hive to being on utility.

And that has been deferring to others.

When I was in the Hive I was the go-to guy. I was the one who knew what to do and when to do it and there weren't very many situations I hadn't encountered down there. I was the one that when the snit got flaky, they would look at me and say "What do we do?"

Of course, they didn't always listen. But nine times out of ten they ended up doing it the way I told them they should in the first place. I was the Hive Master.

Now that I'm not down there anymore, I have had to learn to listen to others more.

And some of the people I have had to listen to I neither like nor trust. But they have been in those places more than me and know more than me.

And if you're reading this and getting your knickers in a twist, just remember I'm probably not talking about you.

It's galled me a few times to say to someone with only two or three years with the department "You're the boss. Tell me what I need to do." I've deferred to officers I wouldn't trust with a wet book of matches to tell me what needs to be done in certain places.

Because they've been there and I haven't.

I did it again today at Main Production. It's where the food is all assembled and sent out to the dining halls. And let me just say that you can have that 11-7 shift. I hate getting up early.

When I got there I was working with a new guy. A fairly nice new guy. He'd been down to the Hive a few times when I was still down there. As a matter of fact, I ended up getting into a use of force because I was trying to help him out. No big deal. It wasn't his fault.

But I helped him out when he was new and he remembered that.

So when I got to Main Production today he was there. He knew I hadn't been there very much and gave me as much of a rundown on the procedures as he could. And a real helpful thing was the keys and what they did. Like which one was the bathroom key. I hate having to hunt for that one when I'm in a hurry.

Alot of what he told me I already knew, but I let it slide because he was honestly trying to be helpful and not condescending about it. That was cool.

But there have been a few people that have looked at me like "You don't know how to do that? And you've been here how long?"

I guess it made the sun shine in their little world for a few moments. Okey-dokey.

Yes, I've been here seven years and you have been here two and I am constantly surprised that you manage to find your way to work on occasion with your pants on forwards and your boots on the right feet. But you have done this certain thing here more than I have.

If you want to feel smug about that, I'm cool with it. Let's get in a use of force and see who gets the paperwork done faster, eh?

Tomorrow, being Saturday, is both Saxophone Day and Marooned Without A Compass Day.

Honestly, who made up this list?

Off With His Head!

Guilty? Of course he's guilty! It's written all over his face! He did it and all of the evidence points to the fact that he did it!

That man wouldn't have said it if it weren't true!

Off with his head! Lock him up! Throw him in the hole!

Oh wait.... he's one of us?

That's even worse! Of course he's guilty! If he wasn't guilty of something, he wouldn't be working here in the first place!

And this poor innocent inmate who got his feelings so horribly trodden on wouldn't make a false statement against a staff member, would he?

No, of course not.

And it's not like they lie about us every freaking day because they don't like us. No, that never happens.

Hey, it's okay to treat one of our own just like an inmate. It's okay. We're used to it.

And they wonder why you couldn't slide a piece of paper under the bottom of our morale right now. Jeez, why is everybody always in such a bad mood?


Note to everybody else: If you don't understand this, just go on. I'm in a mood.

Oooohh... and tomorrow is Gunpowder Day. That's ominous and scary.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Some Things We Take Seriously

I know that it's difficult to believe, working in a prison and all, that we do take some things seriously.

One of those things is if there is the slightest chance that somebody may have escaped, we check to see if we have all of our allotted amount of knuckleheads. At the slightest provocation, we will lock them all down and count them just to make sure.

It's frequently annoying and inconvenient, but it's a good thing in the long run.

This evening, just before I was going to switch out with the P-car, one of the other drivers (not brother D, but Gramps) found a pair of black nitrile search gloves laying in the road by the fence. And like he was supposed to, he reported it to Sgt Puddle who called Capt Walrus who said send everybody back to the house and count them, just to make sure.

It's all pretty much in policy and standard operating procedure and even a little in common sense. Anything in the way of gloves, clothing or blankets that is found anywhere near the fence raises an immediate suspicion that someone may have been trying to escape.

So they all did the right thing, even though it was inconvenient.

Granted, nitrile gloves are tougher than latex or plastic ones. But they still won't get you through the razor wire, no matter how many pairs you got on.

It was the captain's call and he decided to err on the side of caution. Not a bad thing, in most cases.

A thing like this starts a chain reaction, though. When we lock them down to count because there might be somebody missing, there's a whole raft of people that have to be notified. The major, the Warden (when we get a new one so whoever is standing in), the state and local police departments, duty officers, etc. It's a big deal.

But nobody was missing, so about an hour later we got back to normal operations. And all of the notifications got a followup message saying "Never mind!" Eh, it all works out.

Later on in the evening we had some inmate up in medical having grand mal seizures and they couldn't get him to stop. So we had to have an emergency outcount to the local hospital again. I've been to a few of his episodes and they aren't pretty. And sometimes he comes out of them fighting.

Tonight he had at least twenty seizure episodes that we knew of. The other night he went out with over thirty seven. That's extremely bad. When you start having that many you can blow blood vessels in your brain and break bones.

What I hadn't heard before was that he was selling his seizure medicine to some other inmate for cigarettes. That was why he kept having so many. I don't know this to be a fact, but it wouldn't really surprise me. Why anybody would want it is beyond me. Maybe it gives you a buzz or something.

If he's that stupid then we need to quit wasting our time and money on him. Maybe if he wakes up enough times in his own filth with torn ligaments and blind in one eye from an aneurysm he'll wise up and quit selling his medication.

But I doubt it.

We've probably spent more money on this fool and his stupidity in the last six months than I make in a year. If he'd just go ahead and....

Never mind. Saying things like that get me looked at funny.

I'll shut up now.

And for those of you who are interested, tomorrow is Waiting For The Barbarians Day. If anybody has an explanation for that one, I'd love to hear it.

Remember, dammit! It's rape, then pillage, then burn! Not the other way around!

Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Roll Your Eyes

And there I was, just moments before sitting up in the A-yard shack with the Fireman saying "This has been one of those nights when I am just not going to have anything to write about when I get home. Those always suck."

The Fireman and the Watcher and I were walking up to central at the end of shift when we hear Sore over on the other side of the camp call Sgt Uncle T on the radio and tell him to go to channel two. So naturally the whole camp goes to two to listen in. The conversation goes something like this:

Sore: Yeah Sarge, we got a guy down here complaining of chest pains and numbness in his left arm. I went ahead and called medical and they said they were too busy with shift change to answer a code 16 and they wondered if you would bring him up on the cart.

Uncle T: Sore, if you have a guy having chest pains, call a code 16!

Sore: Well, that's what I thought but they said they were busy and I don't want to just send him up there because he might fall out on the yard.

Uncle T: I'm not medically qualified to make that call and I'm not taking him on the cart! Call a code 16!

Sore: Oh, okay.

By the time we got to central we were all laughing our guts out and all the captains and lieutenants were shaking their heads and most of midnight shift was laughing at us for having such a knowledgeable and capable officer on our shift.

I just hope he's not there if I ever need medical attention. He'd probably try to psychoanalyze why I was really bleeding before he'd call for any help.

Gawd help us all.

One other thing happened in 1 house while I was out. Lancelot was out doing count and found an inmate asleep, so he wrote him a conduct violation for interfering with count. When Sarge went to read it, he asked the inmate if he wanted to plead guilty and he said "No." He wanted his cellie as a witness. He was going to fight this one and pretty sure his cellie would back him up on it. And when Sarge asked him for a short statement he said "I was asleep".

Man, what a jailhouse lawyer he's going to be! I don't think Melvin Belli could have come up with a more devious defense.

Don't forget! Sandwich Day and Housewives Day! Have the wife make you a sandwich and you can celebrate both at once! Let's hear it for 'em! yayyyyyy!

P.S. If you didn't read my post from earlier today, go check it out!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

I remember back when I first started blogging, I would occasionally post about something besides working at a prison. Now and then I would find something I thought was cool or strange or worthy of your attention in one form or another.

It's been a while since I've done that.

If you knew me, you wouldn't think that I was much into scrapbooking.

And you'd be right. I'm not. Not that I have anything against it, it's just not my cup of cheese. When it comes to things artistic I'm more autistic.

But some lady friends of mine are seriously into that sort of thing and they have started their own site, trying to get a web business off the ground. So I'm going to give them a promotion here and hopefully a helping hand. The three of them met online and are scattered across the country and across the ocean but still managed to get together and get this thing going. I'm hoping it will turn into something big for them. They are awesome at what they do and serious about turning out quality products for reasonable prices.

So if you are into scrapbooking(I won't tell! I promise!), or know anybody who is, send around this link here:

Coffee Klatch Scrappers

Yesterday was their grand opening of the site. I was going to post about it last night and I forgot. I'm a dunderhead like that, sometimes.

So give them some traffic and some comments! Like I said, they are awesome at what they do and they love their work.

And who knows? If they get enough referrals from me, I might get lucky. (evil grin)

Oh yeah. I forgot also last night. Today is National Deviled Egg Day. And tomorrow (in case I don't post later) is both Sandwich Day and Housewife's Day. So that gives you something to do with those leftover deviled eggs, I guess.

It Started With An Odd Note

I started out on A-yard tonight. That wasn't bad. The Watcher was there and we always have a good time together. A few bad puns flew before anybody even knew the battle was joined.

Then I heard someone from the Hive calling for the Sarge to come to C-wing. I wandered a little closer just in case things were going wrong.

But nothing happened so I went up the hill to watch the inmates as they came down for chow. I had only been up there for a few moments when Sgt Duck told me to come back down.

I walk back across the yard and he tells me I am going on an outcount with Sausage.

Oh snap. I love Sausage to death and I trust him at my back in a ruckus. We've been in a few together. But he talks incessantly and he drives me crazy after awhile. I hope we aren't going too far.

So I go back up the hill to get my lunchbox then back the other way to central. Lt Pistachio tells me it hasn't been approved yet, so just hang tight.

Apparently one of the wobbleheads down in the Hive is a little out of control and we are going to take him to the camp up the road and put him in the rubber room for awhile so he can't hurt himself.

So while I'm sitting there I eat my dinner. The wife's homemade spaghetti and garlic bread! Yum! And I get to get on the computer and check my departmental email box. It always gets full of crap when I've been away for a few days.

Yup, mostly just crap. Then I notice one email from Capt Walrus. That makes my eyebrows go up. Why is he sending me an email?

It's titled "End of shift report 10-30-10" and when I open it, it merely states "Nothing of significance to report."

Well, of course he sent it to me (and I think, everybody else) by mistake. It should have only gone to the Major or the acting Major.

Then begins a long hard battle with myself. I really really want to send a reply to this. Maybe only "I'm glad to hear it" or "Good job" or "Thank goodness!" or something strange and surreal and many many things pop into my head. I actually had the mouse poised on the Reply button a couple of times before I wised up and just deleted it.

Sometimes my cupidity over rides my common sense. For once, common sense won out. Yay for me!

So I hang around for awhile then they tell em to go back out on the yard and they would call me when they got approval.

And a couple of hours later Sausage gives me the word that we aren't going, after all. That doesn't hurt my feelings too much. I didn't really want to load some chained up out of control wobblehead into the back of a crown vic and drive him thirty miles up the freeway.

It just didn't seem like a good way to spend my evening. And I could just see coming back with the back seat of the car all covered with pepper spray. I'll bet the paperwork on that would have sucked.

So I got to spend the rest of the night out on the yard with Duck and the Watcher and the Fireman. Mr Coffee was ghosting around somewhere but stayed mostly invisible. We spent alot of time up in 1 house (where the coffee was) and hung out with John-T and Miz Maybe. That was fun.

And even now I am wishing I would have sent a reply to that email.

I wasted an opportunity there, I think.