Sunday, December 18, 2005

Movin' On

Jail in an ice storm. Too few staff, supply problems, maintenance issues... gates on manual, locked open. No visiting. In the first few minutes of the shift as OIC (Officer in Charge, an acting shift commander) the schedule had to be adjusted both for the short crew and the ones who would be late; duties assigned and distributed; maintenance issues from cars and vans to gates, doors and electric locks predicted and prevented... so far.

It was busy and good, creative and responsible work. Making a plan on the fly and watching it all come together is a great joy. I truly enjoy taking a chaotic situation and making it better. I sometimes, with a twinge of guilt, wish that there were more chaotic situations to fix.

Within two hours I had forgotten almost all of it. It was over, done. Replaced with the hours of arranging coverage for the next shift; talking to visitors who might have traveled very far and were not going to get their visits...

Here's a mind bender for you- everyone in here is three distinct people. There's 'X' the prisoner- how he acts on the inside, adapts to the rules, maintains his sense of self respect. Then there's X the criminal. There are people who are intelligent, articulate respectful and respected gentlemen in jail who have done vicious and depraved things to get there- multiple counts of kidnap, rape sodomy and murder in one memorable example. And there are people in here who are complete asses: rude, violent (though rarely brave, they choose their victims with an eye to their own safety) vicious and petty whose crimes on the outside are very small- DUIIs, larceny. The third X is the one with the family, the one who has children who will drive for two hundred miles to show him the new child or grandchild. They will always see the husband/father/brother, not the convict and not the criminal. Sometimes, Convict X is a much better person than Father X- he's sober, less violent, clearer headed. Sometimes he has a talent like art or writing that outside the walls is lost in the haze of drugs or the constant activity of hustling.

Enough of an aside. Things move quickly. I try to live them while they are there and let them go when they pass. Do I really forget things, or just don't hang on to them? What would the difference be?

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