Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 4

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Real Bee Of A Day

Got stuck up in the bubble again today. I gripe about doing that alot, but I don't mind it as much as it sounds. It's a real pain in the butt, but it's a change from being down there on the floor. And there's one real perk to being up there. All the intercom switches have an "off" position. If there's nothing going on out in the wings and all the others are down in the office, I can switch the speakers off, even just for a few seconds, and all the noise just disappears. It's almost like I've gone deaf. It's very peaceful. And you can't get that when you're down on the floor. There's always someone talking or making noise or the radio's chattering in your ear. Even though I know the radio is my lifeline, there are days when I could do without it. I'd like to go work in a library some day. A great big one with stacks in the basement where the patrons aren't allowed to go. I'd work down there. Just me and thousands of books and peace and quiet......

It would probably drive me nuts.

This afternoon one of our knuckleheads on suicide watch decided he wasn't getting what he wanted so he covered his camera and barricaded his door with a foam mattress and put wet toilet paper over his cell window so we couldn't see in. Then when everybody got up to the door, he wouldn't respond so they waved and I opened the door. He tried to swing on one of the officers so they put him to the ground and cuffed him up. Then he proceeded to spit and try to bite until they put him on the restraint bench. He stayed there for close to an hour before the nurse brought him two shots, which I'm sure was the reason for the whole performance. He wanted to get high or buzzed or whatever you get from haldol and atavan. They put him back in the cell and took away his mattress and his blanket and left him nothing but a smock.

A couple of hours later he decided the shots weren't good enough so he started screaming and banging his head on a corner of the wall, making himself bleed again. They had to pull him back out and put him back on the bench and as the next shift came in and we were relieved, they were trying to find a rubber room to put him in somewhere. Hell, maybe that's what he wanted. Doesn't sound like fun to me.

When something like putting an inmate on the ground happens we call it a "use of force" and aside from the fact you actually have to wrestle an inmate and possibly get hurt, you also inherit about four hours worth of paperwork to go along with it. It's supposedly so we can cover our bases in case it goes to court and the state doesn't get sued. But they have gotten so anal about these reports that they take many times longer than necessary. It should just be one short paragraph stating: "Offender Joe Schmuck got stupid and I sprayed him and put him on the ground and Officer Lunchbox and I put cuffs on him." Instead what they want from us is this: "At approximately 7:14 am on 11-17-2008 Offender Schmuck, Joseph #5554123 in Housing Unit 5, cell A-13 stepped towards me and swung his right fist towards my upper torso. I blocked the offenders strike with my left forearm while issuing the offender a verbal directive to stop. The offender did not comply to my verbal directive so at approximately 7:15am I applied one one-half second burst of O/C pepper spray to the offenders facial area. At this time COI Lunchbox, Melvin entered the cell and we placed the offender on the floor of the cell. I controlled the offenders left upper arm with my left hand and his left forearm with my right hand while COI Lunchbox controlled the offenders right arm and we placed him face down on the floor of the cell. I placed mechanical wrist restraints on the offender and the Sergeant was called to the cell. At 7:20 am the offender was assessed by LPN Barbie Bandaid and at 7:25 am the offender was placed in the A-wing shower........." Blah blah blah ad infinitum. It goes on for hours. And everyone involved has to write the same report. And you can't just write one report and then change the names around for everybody else. OH Noooo.... That wouldn't be right. They all have to say EXACTLY THE SAME THING but they all HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT.

Sometimes I think we're morons to keep doing this.

Then I look at the inmates and I know why I keep doing it. And I look at my family and I know why I keep doing it. And I look at myself and know why I keep doing it.

But some days are harder than others.


Apparently I had a hard day that day. I've had worse before and since then, but not many.

And I wrote differently back then, too. I think I tended to rant more often.

I had issues. Still do, apparently.

Ah, well.

Friday is going to be National Mustard Day as well as International Beer Day and Braham Pie Day (Celebrated in Braham, MN).


  1. Oh, the days when working the hive was fun! Can't have fun in there any more haha

  2. I think you've touched on a deeper underlying problem in our society, which is that we are absurdly litigious. Agreed it should just be a brief incident report. Spending longer than the actual event took on the paperwork is ridiculous.

  3. From a purely literary point of view (whatever that means, I think I mean memorable & effective communication) I found this your best yet, possibly.

    And it made me laugh. Perhaps that's what I mean. Suicide is obviously not funny, but what is funny is your interpretation, which I don't dispute, that the inmate was angling for some outcome:

    "Hell, maybe that's what he wanted. Doesn't sound like fun to me."

    Which leaves your reader free to see a tragic situation, that here's a man whose options are so limited that he opts for a pastime that others would judge to be even less fun than just hanging out in jail & behaving properly.

    Or the reader could see it a different way. I like that in your writing.

  4. "Three follicles of the offender's hair were stuck to the offender's forehead 23 centimeters left of its center. The follicles were moist, probably from sweat generated by the preceding struggle, and this most likely is what caused them to stick to the forehead."

    I would love to work in a library...or a book store. All those books are so calming. It's like the air is almost soft with quiet.

  5. That's one good thing about America, then. Here in England, they ostentatiously fail to observe the silence that was once the hallmark of a library. Spoilt children are encouraged by parents to give loud voice. Librarians are delighted that children are still learning to read, or if not, are still attracted to libraries, perhaps through all the non-book gimmicks, including a story-reading session (loud of course) in which the children are encouraged to let off steam in whatever manner they wish. The idea of restricting activities in the library is contrary to their politically correct ethos.

    The follicles part of the incident report was delightful. Except that I don't think follicles could behave in that manner. I know they are beloved of shampoo vendors who urge us to worry about them, but aren't they embedded in the skin, & therefore unable to wander around a person's forehead, except in pathological conditions?

    I think incident reports should therefore be accompanied by close-up photos, using the macro lens setting.

  6. @Vincent: You are right; I should have said "strands" of hair. In my defense, I haven't slept all night.

    As for the libraries, some of that may be true here as well. However, I don't know about the library set-up in England, but most of our libraries, including the local one here, have a separate children's section which is usually kept far away from the normal adult section. In the library here, it's on an entirely different floor. The bookstores, especially the big chain ones, tend to play some kind of classical or soft jazz music all the time, which I think tends to keep everyone fairly subdued. (There's probably subliminal messages in the music too, "Calm down. Buy a book. Dip some tasteless cookies in your 5 dollar coffee.")

  7. FlyinMonkey- Those were the days, all right. Knee deep in the blood and the poop and the pepper spray. What were we thinking?

    Elliot- Welcome. And you are quite correct. Out of 2000+ inmates just in our camp we probably have 15-20 lawsuits going at any given time. I've spent five hours writing up a 30 second incident. And they wonder why I got burned out. Pfui.

    Vincent- One of the things back then was that writing about it was still new and I had things to say more often. Now after three years I've found I still have things to say, just not as many of them so my posts are a little more "sparse".

    Bryan- I've tried writing up a use of force report like that before. I think I wrote four or five pages of nonsense and the Captain threw me out of his office.

    I suspect that I will be stone deaf in a few years so I'll get my quiet life whether I want it or not. But I still daydream about working in a library. Far away from the childrens section, of course.

    Vincent- It seems to me that Britain is becoming pathologically afraid of interfering with someones rights in any way shape or form. That and being afraid that somebody might get injured. We are not much better here, but it seems the Kingdom is leading the way towards rampant paranoia.