Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Who wants to go to prison?

So I have been out of prison for just over two years. Oh, didn't you know that I was a Correctional Officer for the State of Arizona? Well I was, and now I'm not. But I worked for almost five years at Lewis Prison Complex, one of the ten prisons in Arizona.

I almost exclusively worked graveyard shift, from 20:30 (that's 8:30 P.M.) to 06:30 and for most of the time I worked Thursday night through Sunday night. Which means that I had the great fortune to spend four Thanksgiving dinners behind bars and I either worked Christmas eve or Christmas day four times.

Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog was that I was thinking of writing a book about my experiences, so I figured some writing practice wouldn't hurt. Of course, most of my memories are starting to fade so I'll probably write a fiction book set in a prison instead. Besides, you'd be bored by the real prison stories.

There were a few homicides on my yard and I've seen enough assaults and performed more searches than I care to remember, but other than that, not much really happens in prison. Believe me, even those shows you watch on the Discovery channel are highly distilled accounts of what it's like. And by the way, if an inmate is being interviewed, he's probably lying.

That's one of the funniest things about inmates, they lie. I don't mean they tell little fibs, I mean they flat out fabricate the truth!

Here's an example; I supervised night-time work crews of inmates who clean the various buildings on the yard. So I have this inmate on the crew, I'll call him J, and one night he starts telling me all about his crime. Now I distinctly remember telling him I really didn't care what he did or how he ended up in prison, but he's going to tell me anyway. So he's telling this long complicated story about how he was an undercover informant working for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and that he uncovered major corruption like Serpico did in New York and as a result, he was framed and sent to prison.

So he finishes this story and I go straight to the yard office and look up his sentencing information on the ADC Inmate Datasearch. Turns out he was really arrested for driving with a suspended license, possession of 4 ounces of Marijuana and violation of his probation from an earlier domestic violence conviction. No mention of a glorious law enforcement history, just a pedigree that didn't quite qualify him as a dangerous felon. Still, you wouldn't want to run into him on the street.

The next day I ask him to clarify his story a little and he tells me that he was with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Of course, once I told him I knew the truth, he got real quiet for a minute. Then our exchange went something like this:

Him: "Asshole, I knew you'd look me up, you cops are all the same, you never trust anyone."

Me: "Yeah J, cause you're so trustworthy."

Him: "Whatever, I was just trying to make conversation."

Me: "No problem, but why'd you lie?"

Him: "I got nothing better to do. Besides, you were gonna check anyway..."

So he finishes his work and I escort him back to his dorm, but before he goes to his bed, he begs me not to tell anyone about how he lied to me. As I walk away, I ask him "why do you care?" and he responds, "I have a reputation to protect." I leave him saying "Good luck with that", amazed that he'd lie to the other inmates.

See, he lied to me to promote himself and gain respect. Only it never mattered, because he knew I didn't respect him to begin with. But lying to other inmates? They might find out, and if they do, they'll kill him.

So don't believe what inmates say, and don't trust all the stories about prison that you hear. Most of them aren't true.

Nothing ever happened to J. that I know of, except the night before he was supposed to be released, I caught caught him kissing this she-male in the blue dining hall instead of cleaning the windows. That got him a few nights in detention and delayed his release. Had the any other inmates found out about that, I might have had a better story to tell.

Now the picture of the inmate above is not J. It's Steven J. Coy #047122, he and his buddy Ricky Wassenaar #065155 held two fellow Corrections Officers hostage for 15 days starting on Sunday, January 18, 2004. That particular morning marked my "Friday" for that week and in a way became the "Friday" of my law enforcement career. But that's another story....

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Old Truck

It's probably a good idea to explain the picture at right. That used to be my truck. It was a light-taupe 1997 Ford F-150 Super cab/Long bed with a medium-mocha interior. It was also the first (and thus far only) new car I have ever owned. I actually leased it in 1996 for two and a half years before I bought and then drove it until 2005.

The picture was taken in 2000 after a micro burst in Scottsdale caused a palm tree to fall over and crush the bed. Luckily for me, the damage was not that bad and the frame was totally intact. The bed was replaced and after draining my wallet the $1000 deductible I was back on the road. I have to say that I knock Ford quite a bit because while their motto is (or at least was) "Quality is Job One", I often feel like their motto ought to be "Why would anyone buy our piece of crap cars that everyone makes fun of and we issue lots of recalls for."

Well for the record, there were at least 20 recalls that I was notified about on that truck and I only had two of them fixed. But I drove it over 250,000 miles and for the last 80,000 or so I never changed the oil. It suffered several tire blow outs and the aforementioned falling palm tree plus over a hundred trips to the slums of Tijuana Mexico. It started life like the velveteen rabbit, with lavish attention every week including all-day detail sessions and ended with lots of dents and scrapes and a set of bald tires. But even when I had a wheel fall off while driving to work (remember to check your wheel studs often) I never had great cause to curse that truck. She got me through allot of rough times and I had allot of fun with her. And today I am proud to say that I own one of her cousins, a silver Ford Exploder. I only hope that this one takes me as far and I have much fun as my last Ford.

And about that palm tree....he may have gotten my truck....but I got his brother. Thank the maker for chainsaws!

Why am I doing this?

Well I figure it's time for me to make my mark on the Internet. All those other fly-by-night dot-comers have generated the hype, so Tombo has arrived and now I am ready to take over where Google, Yahoo and Facebook have left off. So look out Microsoft and Matt Drudge; I'm ready for my fifteen minutes.....

Well actually, I feel like I'm incredibly behind. I mean, I am a programmer and I should have some sort of web presence. I just never really thought I'd be a very good writer and I know about as much about web pages and html as I do about Sanskrit. So why am I starting a blog?

I'm not really sure. I kinda want to test the waters. Like one of those almost-famous local crazy guys that seeks the Republican nomination for President even though he doesn't own a car and he's been a Communist for the last 20 years. I want to see if anyone will read any of the crazy stuff that I think about. Actually I want to see if I can even think up crazy stuff any more.

Everyone always laughs at my stories so I know I can BE funny. Now is my chance to see if I can be spontaneously funny without trying too hard. After all, I had a couple of friends tell me that I should do something funny on the Internet. So sit back, relax and enjoy my rants.