Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Don't Care For Surprises

Getting surprised while working in a prison is rarely a good thing. Even being caught unawares or nonplussed can be extremely bad.

As you can well imagine.

We often get lulled into complacency by the "business as usual" routine of the place. Especially if things have been going well and smoothly for awhile. We forget that things can go bad very quickly and all it takes is one slip-up to make everyone have a very long evening.

I'm not sure what exactly happened this afternoon. Whether someone saw something or someone or if somebody left a gate open of if a piece of clothing got blown into the fence by the stupidly high winds we had today.

But about 3:30, just as soon as I got to my house and got a pot of coffee brewing they called on the radio and said "The yards are closed. Return all workers to their housing units and prepare for a name and number count."

Aw...... snap. The only reason they do that is if they think there is a chance that somebody escaped. Empty out the chow halls and main production. Close down rec and education. Bring the entire camp to a stop and make sure that we can account for every single inmate that we are supposed to have. Somewhere around 2800 of them, I believe.

Chase them all off of the yard. Chase them into the house and tell them to get ready for count.

What? I said get ready for count, fool! I didn't stutter!

We counted our house and had everybody we were supposed to have, fortunately. Then it was time to sit back and bite our nails and hope that everyone else knew how to count. This was definitely not a time to have a math error!

Fortunately whatever had happened didn't seem to actually involve an escape. It seemed that we had all of our little desperadoes safely tucked away where they were supposed to be.

Whew! I've never been here during an actual escape and the couple of attempts that we have had always happened on my day off.

Let's just keep it that way, shall we?

While I'm here I just want to hand out props to Coupe, for catching a problem and nipping it in the bud.

We have a good sized population of Spanish speaking inmates. Many of them speak only halting English and some of them speak it much better than they let on. I don't speak more than a few words of it myself so I rarely know what they are saying.

Coupe however, speaks fluent Spanish from his days down in Central America doing something that he won't talk about. Our very own version of G. Gordon Liddy.

At any rate, he overheard one of the inmates from my house call another officer an "old drunk" in Spanish down at the chow hall this evening. And he waited until he got back from chow to address the problem.

I didn't know about it until I heard them down the hall speaking in rapid Spanish. They weren't shouting, but Coupe sounded perturbed and the inmate sounded apologetic. Rather than get into the middle of it, I decided to wait and see what happened. I figured if they got to the "Ricky Ricardo" tone of voice then I'd step in and see if I could lend a hand or a decision.

But they never got there so I let it run it's course. Coupe dressed him down for insulting an officer and gave him some extra duty to work off to pay his penance.

He'd been upbraided for speaking Spanish to the offenders before. Probably by someone who couldn't understand it either. Me, I figured if he could get his point across to the offender clearly and forcefully by speaking Spanish then I didn't care if he was speaking Latin or sign language. As long as there was no problem afterwards and I didn't have to get involved, then it was a good thing. I was fine with it.

And I wish we had more Spanish speaking officers. I wish I had a talent for languages. But aside from knowing a few colorful insults, I got nothing.

So anyway, good job Coupe. You handled that well and didn't make me do any work. Points for you!

This is what... Tuesday? Yeah. My new Friday. Wheee! It's taking awhile to get used to that.

So here's the midweek weekend lineup:

Wednesday: National Crown Roast Of Pork Day, National Be Heard Day, National Math Day and Cereal Day.

Thursday: Be Nasty Day, International Women's Day, Nametag Day and National Peanut Cluster Day.

Friday: Panic Day, Barbie Day, Get Over It Day and National Crabmeat Day.

Remember! Don't eat cereal and drive!

At least, not at the same time...


  1. One hates to sound like a bigot, but I've run into guys, mainly from Vietnam, who suddenly don't understand enough english any more. One of the guys I tried to get fired pulled that silliness on me and he's still here. I took spanish in high school back with Fred Flintstone. It did me some good talking to the carriers at San Mateo who were mostly from Peru. They appreciated my effort to talk to them like a native.

    1. Joe- It's funny when they understand when things are fine but suddenly lose their ability to speak English when they just want to be difficult.

  2. I am going to start learning spanish because I hate not knowing what they are saying. Especially when they look at me and smile and make it sound like they are giving me a greating but I am pretty sure they are saying, "Get bent pig." Also I am glad you clarified the cereal thing. I was eating a big bowl of Captain Crunch and seen Remember don't eat cereal hahaha

    1. TJ- Sorry if I ruined your cereal experience. I think instead of learning Spanish I'll learn Latin instead. So when they try to pull that whole "No habla Englais" thing I'll hit them with that and really confuse them.

  3. Muchas gracias, Rev!

    1. Coupe- De nada, amigo!

      And that's about the limit of my spanish..

  4. I think it's great afterwards...when you think everything when wrong and then you find out that everything is peachy and perfect and there's nothing to worry about...

    Relief is a good feeling. You need it sometimes.

    1. Chanel- If I could just get the relief without the "whoops" part first, I'd be happy..

  5. What I love about speaking German so fluently is making fun of and decyphering what the white supremacists are trying to write or say to each other. They have no clue that they're using the wrong words and phrases. You've seen the 14-88 "Stolz Volk" down in the Hive? Grammatically incorrect. It should be "Stolzes Volk" because " Volk" is neuter. They REALLY hate it when I point it out to them. Their leader once asked me where I learned German. I told him, "Hebrew School." He didn't like that either.

    1. Sgt Drew- The line "That's funny. You don't look Jewish!" doesn't go over very well either, I'm afraid.

  6. Don't understand why anyone would give an officer a hard time for speaking Spanish with an inmate if it results in calming things down. Bilingualism is a GOOD thing.

    Anyway, I never eat cereal in the car; I'm lactose intolerant.

    1. Lolamouse- The one who objected said that the officer was "catering" to the offenders by speaking Spanish to them. They didn't see how he was showing them he could understand what they said. Plus, I think it pissed off whoever that was that he didn't understand the language and felt left out. Therefore he had to object to make it look like he was contributing something.. Stupid, I know.

  7. We've had stupidly high winds here all week too.

    "Many of them speak only halting English and some of them speak it much better than they let on. I don't speak more than a few words of it myself so I rarely know what they are saying."

    I don't speak much halting English either. It' ;D

    And finally, I was going to say the same thing Mouse did. I don't know why that Coupe would get in trouble for speaking Spanish. If you've got prisoners that don't speak English, you need someone to communicate with them, right? Plus, this incident shows them that someone's listening. You certainly don't want prisoners with their own secret language plotting behind your backs.

    No, I can't imagine why someone would get mad about a guard speaking Spanish unless they were bigoted to the point of being dangerously irresponsible. It just seems amazingly stupid. But then I don't really know.

    Please enlighten us :D

    1. Bryan- If you were closer, I'd spank you.

      And "bigoted to the point of being dangerously irresponsible."

      I think that about summed it up right there.