The inmate was still angry, trying to intimidate, standing so close that I almost tripped over him. I turned and started to say, "I know you're afraid but you don't have to stand so close. I'll protect you." He saw something in my expression and stepped back and quieted down before I could say anything. Too bad, I was curious what his reaction would be.
On the long walk his confidence would come back and he would start yelling and complaining. It attracted the attention of a couple of escort officers and they followed us to the Disciplinary Unit. In the cell I took his first handcuff off and he yanked away and started to spin, possibly to strike but more likely in an attempt to provoke a Use of Force. I stepped in and barely pushed, just enough that his balance disappeared. A little harder and his head slams into the wall, a little twist and he goes down face first towards the door. But right at that point, he can't move or turn without falling. I said, "That was really, really stupid. Do not EVER move fast when an officer takes your cuffs off. If you try it again, you're going to kiss concrete. Do you understand?"
He apologizes. He tells me the cuffs were just too tight. He's trying to read my expression again and it disturbs him that he can't tell what I'm thinking.
About then I realized what I was feeling. Sort of a misty-eyed nostalgia. The words in my head? "This might be the last time that I take down a really big guy. (Sniff sniff) I might never get to do this again. I'm really going to miss this."
Seventeen years on the job has made for a lot of firsts. This week has been a lot of things that might be lasts. Most of the interesting ones were averted. The guy who looked to be the last Tasering ran like a rabbit for his cell when he saw the response you get when you refuse to cell in. That's a Catch-22, if you think about it: run and the other inmates call you a wimp, stay and get thumped and they call you stupid.
Teaching an old con how to get what he wants in a non-criminal way. It's a completely new mindset, but he is trying.
Possible last conversations with violent schizophrenic prisoners. Last mental health team meeting. Last time I will hear, "Let sarge talk to him," as the probable answer to a sticky problem. Last chess game with a murderer. Last time I'll be able to point out to a rookie that the change in flow of movement in his dorm is because of a gang territory issue- and everything in his dorm is his territory. Last time talking old war stories with people who were there.
The big changes will bring new stories. I know that. But the misty-eyed nostalgia is still there, still very strong.
Two more shifts.