Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Work is good. It allows me a sense of 'normalcy'

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It’s early, about 4:00 AM and I am awake, sitting at my desk with my faithful cup of coffee. Yesterday was work as usual. My work position here is as a clerk for the inmate counselor. Overall, we deal with 1,100 inmate case loads and it can be quite a chore. On top of that we manage recreation activities, program courses; inmate orientation, narcotics/alcohol anonymous, re-entry class and elective classes; fine arts (basic painting), creative writing and yoga.
My supervisor, will call him Mr. X, is awesome. He is retired Navy and very real, genuine. He can be a bit overzealous at times but he is a good man. Since he is a senior staff, he is also in charge of all inmate grievances. Believe me when I say it is no easy task. Inmates complain and grieve everything.
Work is good. It allows me to have a sense of normalcy but it also very demanding. Clerk positions on prison yards are highly sought after and, since they have very strict requirements, the greater majority of inmates are ineligible.  I myself have a two man team. I am Mr. Os lead clerk and then I brought on one of my best friends Jonathan (who is awesome) and also an OG (original gangster) Jimmy, who I have known for many years. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with and we have all our bases covered. Jonathon is white and Jimmy is Mexican. I long for the day when I do not have to care about what race somebody is!

The greater majority of yesterday was spent playing catch up since we were off Monday. We got out of the office around 5:00 PM which is decent. A 12 hour work day is normal here. On the way back to the yard, we went on ICS (Incident Command System). This means that something has happened and all inmates must be locked down immediately at their respective housing locations. You would think that we were being bombed upon sometimes. In any case, some stupid guy left his cell phone in the bathroom and an officer found it. Cell phones are not allowed in prison, but ironically, there are 10-12 cell phones per building though. It is a surreal feeling to walk down the run in prison and see guys laying on their bunks, talking or texting on their phones. It is really odd. Cell phones look so foreign to me now….
Due to the ICS, a squad officers came in and searched the dorm thoroughly. Searches are extremely violating no matter how many times they happen.
The yard was back to normal operations by 7:00 PM and I had already showered and settled in for an evening of Top Gear and Master Chef. TV is the ultimate babysitter!
So it’s early now. All is dark and quiet. My TV is on for light. Yes, we have our own TVs. Well, some of us do. Nothing is cheap here and we only get paid $.15 cents, or $.45 cents an hour, in my case. For those who do not have the love and support from family and friends, things are very rough! I have a 15” LCD TV. It is considered “high end” because most everyone still have the original box sets. We get a bunch of channels, so I have no complaints there. I also have a 12” fan, personal CD player, Oakley sun glasses, a G-Shock watch and a couple of pairs of Nike Air Max tennis shoes. Some of these items are not normal but you will find that a lot of the OG’s have relatively nice things and no one asks where or how they acquired them.
Over the years, the title “OG” has changed its criteria. It used to require you to have done a lot of street living or had gang affiliation. The problem was, people realized that even these individuals would come to prison and not have a clue how to do time. Now, the criteria is that you must have been locked up for 10 consecutive years, be it jail or prison, to have earned the title. Whatever. I still feel weird when people call me an “OG”, but it mostly the babies; 18-25 year olds.
I realized that I am behind on some letters this morning. I do my best to stay on top of them, but only certain people take priority. Those people are my best friend Joe, my mom and my aunt Jan. Beyond that, I do have some random pen pals, nothing serious. Back in 2007, I realized that I was actually lonely. I took a chance and posted a profile up on a prison pen pal website. The response was insane. I quickly learned that the majority of guys reaching out to me were trying to fulfill some kind of prison fantasy. That in mind, I wanted quality over quantity. It’s been quite a journey thus far and over time, you will learn about many of them.
Joe was the very 1st person to respond to my profile and I can honestly say that I never would have guessed that we would become as close as we are now. He is a big part of my life and has also become a close friend to my mother as well. I have a love for him that I have never had for anyone in my life, so if he is what I got out of this entire pen pal journey, then I am content. We have been on a journey together ourselves as well. So he is no longer in the pen pal category. He is my family, my friend and my confidant. In fact, he is also my blog master.
I must make some time to write tonight. Come to think of it, I need to call him tonight as well.
Okay, it is time to hop in the shower and get off to work. Hopefully we will have a calm day here in the ‘sand pit’…. We probably will not be so lucky, so I am kidding myself.

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