Whenever one of ours passes away, they always get noticed. Whether they were a present employee or whether they retired years ago, they always get noticed and we remember them.
I hate wearing the black band on my badge. Because it means one of ours has passed and we are out a comrade and a friend.
Just like seeing the fine lads of the honor guard, with their highly polished boots and shiny brass and cocked berets. They look so solemn and professional and I am always proud to see them representing us.
But at the same time I hate to see them because most of the time it means that another one of us is gone.
It seems like these last couple of years have been particularly hard on us here in Raccoon City.
I've taken to carrying the band in my wallet.
Last week a tragedy took two of ours.
The rest of us are left to pick up the pieces.
Our lives are smaller because of their passing.
And there are two more who won't be at our backs when things go bad.
But if things go really bad I'll be in good company.
I'll leave my band for someone else to wear.
I just couldn't let the night go by without mentioning it.
We've been so short of help lately (for various reasons I won't go into) that the overtime list looks more like the reel on a slot machine it spins around so fast. I've been lucky that the shortages on our shift always happen while I'm there and most of the shortages on midnights happen on my days off.
So I've been lucky and unlucky. There are too many people for me to work a day off and just not enough call ins to make me work a double so far. The odds will catch up to me soon, though.
Today was an extra special treat. Sgt Uncle T came in and worked a day off so he could get off of the doubles list and the only spot they had for him to work was as a COI on B-yard under me. So we had two Sergeants and poor St Francis out there stuck between us.
It was very strange being the yard Sergeant and having Uncle T out there working for me instead of the other way around. But kind of cool in a way, too.
I went up to Main Production to do a security check just as Uncle T was checking the fences and Goosey was out there cackling over the situation.
"It has to be karma!" Goosey said "The student has become the teacher!"
I just smiled and bowed and said "Call me sensei."
It was a pretty good night. Uncle T and St Francis gave each other crap all night long. Just like any two other yard dawgs generally do. They yakked back and forth and insulted each other constantly. And every time St Francis would get off a good one, Uncle T would yell "You just wait til tomorrow! I'll be your Sergeant again tomorrow! You just wait!"
They never change.
The only weird thing that happened tonight was during chow. Uncle T was up on the hill watching the inmates and St Francis was down at the front doing pat searches as they came out of the chow hall. He pats this inmate down and reaches into the guys coat pocket and pulls out a instant coffee jar full of some yellow liquid. They aren't supposed to take anything out of the chow hall. Food or drinks or anything.
So he just tosses the jar behind him on the ground and when it hits the top pops open and that yellow liquid splatters all over my pants and boots.
I had no idea what it was. It looked just like..... a jar full of yellow liquid. With a little bit of bubbly foam on the top like it was fairly fresh. I only saw it for an instant before it popped open and went all over my pants.
I just kind of froze in the spot and looked at St Francis and said "Are you f***ing kidding me?"
He stood there for a second bewildered by the murderous look on my face.
Then it dawned on him what I was so pissed off about.
"It was juice, man! It's Kool-Aid from the chow hall! I swear!"
The urge to strangle him subsided a bit, but never really went away.
And every time anyone asked me how my night was going I said "St Francis threw pee on my boots. How do you think it's going?"
P.S. I didn't find out until after I posted this that one or the other of those chowderheads dumped the bottom of my lunchbox full of potato chips crumbs and toilet paper.