Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Different Face?

My friend Greenghost who used to work with me down in the Hive sent me an email the other day and it really got me thinking.

It said:

"I was reading your last post and it really made me stop and think about myself ...past and present. Before I went to work for the state I was a very simple person. I went to work. I enjoyed good well made boots , cold beer and fishing. I was a timid person also. I tried to avoid conflict. Now don't get me wrong I didn't go looking for fights but I wouldn't back down from one. Then it happened. I got a job with the DOC. And after my time there it made me a very aggressive person. The things people cringe at.....I laugh. I try to find things that will get my heart rate up but can't. I find myself standing in rooms filled with people and hunting out all the exit routs and positioning myself in a spot I feel safe. My mouth opens at the most inconvenient moments and how I feel pours out or I should say what feels good pours out. I wish I could find something I fear. What I mean is I think we loose part of our human side after working there and our emotions just fade away. I would love to feel fear again. I know that sounds crazy. I watch people's movements differently. I listen to what others say and the way they say it. I don't like most people so I stay at home most of the time. People just piss me off. I still stand defensively I still talk with authority in my voice. And the worst one of all. My boots still sit by the front door."

I know exactly how he feels. Working here has changed me and my demeanor in alot of ways and not all of them good.

I no longer enjoy having alot of interaction with other people face to face and not at all with strangers. When I meet or see somebody that I don't know I start wondering if they are carrying a weapon and where they might have it. When I'm in a strange place I try and spot the exits before I can feel comfortable at all.

And I really, really don't like crowds. If I'm in a place and someone bumps into me from behind they risk getting their arm broken or their instep stomped on.

I'm alot ruder than I used to be. Of course, that might be just all part of getting old. I don't know. And sometimes I do it without even thinking. I was in Walmart one day and there was this punk teenager with his pants sagging around his butt cheeks. I just yelled out "Hey! Pull your damn pants up!"

And he did it.

And then he walked away really quickly.

I probably shouldn't have done that. But I spend all day doing it at work and it gets to be a habit. And that sagging thing with their hats on sideways really aggravates me.

As for my sense of humor......

Let's just say it was pretty twisted when I started and it hasn't really improved any.

I can't really say if I am "better" or "worse" a person that I used to be. But I am definitely a different person now.

So Wednesday (back in the comm room) is going to be National Thriftshop Day, National Medical Dosimetrist Day (you got me) and the Meaning Of "Is" Day. Which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.



  1. This got me thinking, especially when you told the punk teenager off. I'd like to do more of that but consideration for my own safety intervenes quite naturally. We have a small children's playground behind the house, where there are signs to say no dogs allowed. From my study window I see dog owners let their dogs loose in this park precisely for the purpose for which they are excluded - to use as toilets. I only challenged one dog owner. He was slightly crippled, so that if he got aggressive I could have got out of the way. In the same way, when cyclists weave through the narrow sidewalk endangering pedestrians (which police seem to tolerate for the safety of the cyclists, though it remains illegal) I never rebuke them unless they are smallish polite-looking kids.

    Though I cannot imagine doing your job even for an hour, the self-preservation instinct is the same for both of us.

    Seems to me that 90% of the aggression in the world is defensive. Personally I cannot understand the fights depicted in the movies Fight Club & Bar Fly, for instance, in which grown men get seriously bloodied, with loss of teeth and worse, as a recreational activity. Yet those sheep of whom you are the shepherd seem to be prone to this?

  2. I'd like to devote my day to peacefully contemplating the meaning of "is". But I'll probably come to blows on the topic, with Bryan M White.

    Nothing is safe in this world.

  3. Whew, that email is a bit chilling.

    Unfortunately, I guess you probably can't work in a place like that without it rubbing off on you.

    You know, every time time I see a movie about a prison the same weird thought slips through my mind. I wonder if the people working in the prison ever feel like they're in prison. Sure you're not locked in a cell, you get to go home at the end of the day, and you get paid for your trouble, but you also don't have a limit on you "sentence."

    This probably isn't cheering you up. Sorry.

  4. I have not worked in there in almost two years and I still do these things. It does changes a person.
    ~Mrs. Dorothy

  5. Bryan-- In prison, we're all of us doing time. We're all playing the same game, just on different teams.

    Revvy-- Different is a good word for us. You're right, I can't be around strange people, situations, or crowds without watching my back and keeping a close eye on everyone. It changes us, from our twisted humor to how we stand in a room. Oh, and here's one to make you feel old; happy birthday to me, 2 down - 29 to go!

  6. Vincent- I am becoming less and less able to tolerate rudeness of any sort. I can imagine one of these days it's going to get me thumped. I actually saw Fight Club for the first time last week. And I think I could actually enjoy something like that. I end up with alot of pent up aggressions at the end of the day. The inmates too, have few outlets for their emotions and sometimes it gets the best of them. Then I get to let mine out, too!

    Vincent2- Luckily you and Bryan are continents apart. Maybe a spirited video chat on Skype instead?

    Bryan- I got sentenced 20 to retirement with very little chance of parole. **sigh**

    Miz Dorothy- If I ever make it back home again my friends and family will probably think I have gotten really strange.

    Drew- Only 2? It seems like you have been here forever already! Hell, you are one of the old heads.
    **sigh** Eight down. Sixteen to go!

  7. I know exactly what you mean and after two deployments to Iraq, I think it has made me worse. I have things from combat and things from th prison that get my gears turning and looking for the threats and the exits. I, like Ghost, wish I could fear things again. There is no pause when it comes to a threat. There was a fight the other day on A yard right in front of the house and I didn't even think about what could happen, I just reacted. To some that would seem awesome but to me it was odd. I didn't think of the danger, the "what if", just a reaction. Just like the inmates, we get institutionalized.

  8. If I'd been in Walmart and heard you yell at that kid to pull his pants up, I'd have clapped and given you thumbs up. And having been married to a police officer, I feel so sorry for the email writter. My ex was like him -- so damaged by what he saw and dealt with at work, that he slipped over into the dark side and was unable to turn the job off. At home, he was paranoid, suspicious, distrusting, interrogating, and a whole lot of other adjectives, until it became unsafe and I had to leave -- and hide myself and my children from him for ten years. Before I left, I watched a lot of other cop marriages fall apart for the same reason. Sad commentary on life.

  9. FlyinMonkey- Unfortunately, you are right. We are just as institutionalized as they are. And we get a longer sentence, most of the time.

    Shirley- It hasn't turned me black yet. And hopefully it never does. My wife would whack me with a stick if I started getting nasty at home. She keeps me in line.