Saturday, February 20, 2021

Learning Curve

So the same guy that criticized me about feeding the animals and said I was doing it to entertain guests and it was illegal who I clearly demonstrated was wrong on both counts now comes back to say I was right that it's not illegal but they ask you not to feed the animals and a lot of human interventions in the biological cycle backfire, because even the best trained people with the best intentions can't predict the full extent of their actions." Well then why should I listen to them? For sure I know what the short term cycle is and it saves lives and those lives will live to create more lives without dying the horrible death of starvation and the birds will live long and not suffer the eye disease, and I don't have mice and pack rats anymore. Those things we do know because I'm right here experiencing it on a daily basis. Then somebody else chimes in that they won't learn to feed themselves. I clearly demonstrated that's not the case either. Only the babies show up after six months or so. The adults have learned to feed themselves or they'd be coming back in the evenings or maybe they just tired of Kit&Kaboodle and hot dogs every night. After being wrong about everything, he has this classic finish "I'm sorry if I offended you. I'm sure you do mean well."

In 1976 I was a guard at the stockade at Ft. Carson. Then one day I came to work and they told me I was not a guard anymore, I was a confinement officer, a few months later they said I was no longer a confinement officer I was a correctional specialist. There was no pay raise or anything just the changing of names to make somebody happy.

We had a prisoner named Blankenship. He was several handfuls. If he was going to leave his cell to go to court it would take five of us. I'd assign one guard to be in charge of his right arm, another his left, and one for each leg, and I'd handle wherever he would break loose. We all took a couple hits or kicks from him before we could get him in hand irons, leg irons, and restraining straps. There was nothing I hated worse than having to let him out of his cell. When we'd eventually complete our task of taking him wherever and put him back in his cell I would wait around for three or four minutes knowing what would happen next. He'd call out "Sergeant Higginson I have something for you." I'd open the tray door and there would be the handcuffs, leg irons, and restraining straps that he had worked his way out of in less than the five minutes he had been back in his cell.
One day a soldier walks into my office and says "Sergeant Higginson my name is Specialist Dennis. I'm the new counselor and I've just received my list of the prisoners that I will be working with." He handed me the list. I said "I assume you'd like to go through the list with me so I can tell you who your problem children are going to be." He said "I don't mean to offend you and I'm sure you mean well but I've just completed four years of........." criminal something or another, social something else and three or four other college classes at some university up north. I'm thinking Illinois or close but I'm not sure. Then he said "I don't want to go into my first meeting with preconceived notions. I've never met them. They won't have anything against me so we'll be starting new." Then he said "Let's go in alphabetical order. First up, I'd like to see Blankenship." I said "How about just to mix things up, lets start at the end of the alphabet and go the other way." He smiled at me like I was being funny and said "Blankenship." I got on the phone and called the control desk and told them I needed four guards to max block right away. Specialist Dennis followed me down the long hallway to max block where there were four guards waiting for us. I gave everyone their assignment for arms and legs and then looked through the window bars and said "Blankenship, your counselor is here." He smiled.
I said "Specialist Dennis, when you're done conversing with Blankenship you let me know." He nodded. I opened the door and Specialist Dennis stuck his hand out to shake. Blankenships's first punch broke his nose and his glasses. When Dennis fell to the ground Blankenship jumped on him and started hitting him with a fury I'd never seen. I said "Specialist Dennis, when you're done communicating with Blankenship don't forget to let me know." He was yelling "I'm done, I'm done." Four guards jumped on Blankenship and I dragged Dennis out of the cell into the hall way then went into the cell to restrain Blankenship. We all took some blows and so did Blankenship. The difference being Blankenship didn't care. There was blood in the cell, on the door, and in the hallway. I took Specialist Dennis down to the dispensary to see the medic and wrote up a report. I didn't see Specialist Dennis for awhile.
A few weeks later Specialist Dennis comes into my office. They'd re-set his nose and his glasses had a little bit of tape on the front of them and on his left ear holding them together. Dennis said "I'm sorry to bother you Sergeant Higginson, do you have a couple minutes?" I said "I do." He said "I was hoping you could go through this list with me of people I'll be counseling. You know, maybe you could let me know if there's any issues I should be wary of, any conditions or things that I should know about." I said "I'll be happy to go through them with you. Don't ignore the people on the ground that are living the experience every day. They know more than you and they know it in detail and Specialist, congratulations, in your two weeks absence with time to reflect, you've learned more than you did in four years of reading books and college classes."

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