"Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." -Anonymous Philosopher
I know. I asked for it. I could have just gone on and let someone else go up there and learn that stuff. I could have just waited and maybe someone else would have stepped up and decided that being in the Control center was what they really wanted out of life.
But so far nobody else really has. Ms Odd went to day shift. Ms twang is on light duty for a couple more weeks at least and Vinnie is out with a broken finger and hasn't been in for over a week. That leaves nobody but Sgt Puddle.
And now, me. Though I don't know anywhere near enough to run it by myself yet. Not even close. And it was a bit nerve wracking.
Everybody says "If you can do the numbers in the Hive, you can do this! It's the same thing!"
Well, it is and it isn't. For one thing, in the Hive they can only hold 175 inmates max. Last time I looked the whole camp had in excess of 2600.
One the few occasions I had been up there I had never really paid all that much attention to the count sheet. It just never really interested me all that much and I tend to get intimidated by numbers anyway. This time I tried to pay attention while Sgt Puddle was doing the 4:30 count and I was still pretty intimidated. Over 2600 inmates and at the time of the 4:30 count about 250 of them were somewhere besides in their housing units.
Some in Main Production.
Some in Education.
Some in Medical.
Some in Laundry.
Some in A-dining and some in B-dining.
Some out on jobs outside of the camp.
Some on outcount to the hospital.
Some out to court.
Fortunately for me (and all of us, really) Sgt Puddle has this count thing down to a science. He rattled through it like it was nothing and count cleared.
Then he looked up at me and said "You are doing the 10:00 count yourself."
Once again, luckily for me (and for all of us), those numbers dwindled down to almost nothing by that time. All of the ones on outside work detail came back. Education and all of the food service areas closed down and sent their offenders back. Laundry finished for the night. One outcount came back. So that left me with little to account for other than whoever might be in Medical and the other outcounts.
I had my count sheet filled out and ready by 9:20. Medical always calls in their count early and he did and it was what I expected. 9:40, I'm doing good. My numbers match. At 9:42 Medical calls back and has to change their count. Someone sent up one with an accident report.
Aw snap. Erase... erase... scribble scribble... Okay, no big deal.
At 9:44 the Hive calls and says they got a lockup from 7 house. Oh freaking snap. Okay... erase... erase.... scribble... oops.... erase..... scribble.... scribble.... Re-add everything again just to be sure... All right you people, knock it off!
Call count at 10:00 and start chewing my nails. The time between I call count and the time they start calling in with their numbers is interminable.
WILL YOU PEOPLE HURRY THE SNAP UP!!! THE WAIT IS KILLING ME!!!
Besides, I really needed to pee and I really really wanted a smoke. But since I was on the desk for this one I couldn't leave.
They start calling in their numbers. I have thirteen different places that have to give me the right numbers. One by one I answer the phone and mark them off with a red pen as I go. It takes for freaking ever. But they all call in what I want to hear.
As I get on the radio and clear count Miz Twang and Sgt Miz P, who are both on light duty, are standing at the chuck hole cheering. I couldn't think of a better pair of cheerleaders.
That was my first one and Sgt Puddle was there watching, making sure I wasn't screwing up. And he caught one simple math error that I had made earlier that could have messed it all up. But the system we have is designed to double check all of the numbers in two different directions so if they don't match you know something is wrong. They didn't and he found the mistake and I fixed it and we went on.
And one of these days I am going to have to get brave enough to do the 4:30 count by myself.
So, only about a hundred more things I have to learn how to do before I can consider myself an asset to the Control Center. And maybe someday I can keep things from getting screwed up some night and maybe.... just maybe..... I can step in and say....
"Don't worry about it. I got this."
Hopefully that night is a ways down the road.
So Tuesday is going to be National Spongecake Day. I hope it comes with some strawberries or something. It's also going to be Remembrance Day of the Slave Trade and it's Abolition and Valentino Day.
Go crazy with it.
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