Friday, December 14, 2007

Fridays fly

Up to the alarms, take the medicine, make the coffee, take the measure of the man, gobble the vitamins and supplements, make the gruel, listen to the news and weather, check the absent email and decide that the motorcycle stays in the stable today, rain is on the way. Shave, dress and grab the pickle, apple and sandwich and out the garage door to the Caravan. Thirteen miles to the parking lot at Western State Hospital, park and put on cap and gloves and start the walk down to the dock. I walk because it is downhill and reminds me of Pennsylvania and it feeds my reputation as "the guy who walks everyday"; others think I do it for my physical fitness, but I know I do it for my mental state, the tranquility of the solitude with nature.
I get on the ferry and find a seat close to the exit, then close my eyes and pretend to meditate or fall deeply into a nap, twenty to thirty minutes worth is another excellent beginning to my day. When the ferry has crossed and is tied up the signal is given to disembark and the race is on, it is Friday and the first five off the boat and up the gangway to the pier are already stretching their legs and picking up the pace. I am one of those racing to get into the prison, to be among the first through the control gates and inside. Every morning the same racers and the same lack of reason for the speed, but they do it anyway. The most difficult part of the quick walk is stepping around and between the goose droppings on the road and sidewalks, it shouldn't bother any of us, it is organic and totally natural and biodegrading... as we speak. We get by the Corrections Officer checking for badges (someone would try to sneak in?) and hit the stairway and take the steps two at a time and then we stop and look back at the herd following slowly behind.
Control allows us through and passes out keys, cuffs and radios to those that need them. I have take-home keys and just go for my distribution pick up and then down the Corridor to the Library. I watch the inmates stroll along, kicking their heels against the tiles, no hurry in them, they aren't going any faster than they want they know the rules - no running. I nod to the ones I need to acknowledge (all that know me and who I am because they use the library) say hello to Officers and inmates that greet me. I unlock the library and start turning it on, taking off my jacket and stuff to stay awhile, change the backup tape, put a new battery in the radio on my belt, type in passwords for the computers and the level of user, go unlock the book return box and switch bins.
When movement is called the crew will report in, I log the time and greet them, the talk dwells on whatever happened since the last we saw each other - dreams, visits, plans for today's work and adjustments in operations. They check for overdues on hold, ILLs, and reserves against the incoming materials. The ILL clerk starts getting the outgoing ILLs bagged and addressed and all the paperwork pulled and the status changed. I look for incoming email, ILL requests and missions from headquarters. The new books are linked and finished processing, the Acquisitions Report checked against our version of reality - and there are too many missing book orders so a lot of typing is done to tell them so. I get to check every outgoing package for content address and then seal it up for shipping. After the morning work is done and Recall is called the crew leaves together and I take the mail and the distribution to the Communications Center and the Mailroom. Dropping off and picking up, somedays there are three bins full with new book boxes and some days only half a bin without the newspapers.
Lunch is alone, in the quiet of the library with a new magazine to browse in front of me, the pickle, sandwich and apple don't take long and I am up and breaking down the mail, newspapers, magazines, and opening incoming ILLs, ours returning or those requested. I go online the log in the reception, print a sheet for the item and give them to the ILL clerk. The crew starts to trickle back in after their lunch, which was not much better than mine but in the company of their peers, under the watch of the Corrections Officers. The book return box is emptied again and the library prepares for the influx of patrons.
I register new patrons, the Chain came in yesterday and the new guys start showing up, I look for information, find books that are asked for and show my clerks how to find Labor Unions in the Yellow pages. The library is humming, actually it is closer to a low roar, but it is a mellow roar not an angry one. Different groups at different tables, the Corrections Officer that monitored the movement into the library cut it off at forty, and sent about twenty inmates away. We weren't open last Friday and these units are a couple of hours behind in library usage. Music across the hallway doesn't seem open today, as the services are cut or closed because of staffing problems or weather the library becomes much bigger an event in the inmates choices for time well spent.
We are open for three periods this afternoon, from 12:40 to 3:45 and the time flies, I am not finished when Recall is sounded and everyone moves out. The crew tells me to have a great weekend and they will see me on Monday, as long as I don't win the Lotto and take off to Hawaii they will. I turn all the computers off, put the radio and certain keys away, I finish typing the missing books on my response to the November report and email it to headquarters and log off the computer. Burned up another day, no boredom and feeling like I have actually helped find the right information for several of the inquiring minds. I turn off the lights, look around and notice the pile of procrastination has expanded, but the Program Manager told me years ago that I would never be able to complete it all and leaving it for the next work day was okay. Ah, but that wasn't how my Fridays are supposed to finish. I lock the doors taking the last distribution out to drop off and head outside the gate to walk down to the waiting ferry boat, not racing this time. I won't think about the library again until Monday morning. The weather is gray but dry and fine, the weatherman lied, I could have ridden my motorcycle and smiled broadly coming and going between work and home, breaking out in laughter periodically when it is perfect. Well, I know dinner awaits and a full list of honey-do needing done, what is a weekend for? All of the above.

3 comments:

leedolan said...

Brother, I just read your blog, and I like it. You might just convince me to start one, too, about being a Catholic high school math and computer science teacher. Anyhow, I liked it.

Anonymous said...

Reading is its own reward, isn't it?

You write very well, by the way, it's like I'm there.

-Chris Muir

AvianMaven said...

FYI, even though the goose droppings are natural and bio-degrading they can cause significant illness (see my blog: http://avianmaven.blogspot.com/2007/12/avian-bird-flu-is-scary-but-birds-are.html) Plus, if the droppings are allowed to build up, they can lead to a slip-and-fall lawsuit.