You Gotta Be Kidding Me!

by Mike Powers

To be honest, I’ve lived my life rather chaotically. I’ve taken pride in being a man who could turn on a dime without concern for a non-existent wife and kids to slow me down or settle me down. What a tragedy.

However, the good news is that I’ve turned over a new leaf. To lead a purposeful life, I’ve learned, you must clearly define your purposes and plan a strategy to get there. Robert Lewis’s fantastic work in building Men’s Fraternity has been a huge help to me in this endeavor. So, as the year came to an end, and even on into the New Year, I was putting together my plan. After all, this is the year I will be freed, and there’s a lot that needs to be done.

Now, I was sitting there, two nights ago, working on a list of all the things I’ll need from the grocery store soon after I get out. It included all the little stuff one might never consider when starting a household from scratch. In fact, I only just thought of salt and pepper as I was typing that sentence. Makes me wonder what other obvious items I’ve left off the list.

As I made my list, I was sitting on a bench, leaning against my jacket, which was draped over the bench behind me since it was cold outside, and we were waiting for chow time. That’s when newly-minted Sergeant Lee came through the door. There are two, related Sergeant Lees on this unit, so, for clarification, I’m referring to the (much) larger Sergeant Lee. The tall, skinny Sergeant Lee is actually one of the best officers on this unit which so badly lacks them.

Anyway, Lee seemed to be on a mission to mark her new tenure with rank as a reign of terror. She began knocking people’s cups and water bottles off the bench if they weren’t sitting right next to them. She would also grab their unattended jackets. She didn’t say anything; she just made her way towards me like an ugly bull in a china shop.

Naively, perhaps, I wasn’t worried. After all, I WAS sitting with all my things. I was using them, in fact, and I foolishly thought, “If I’m not doing anything wrong, I’ve got nothing to worry about.” Oh, poor silly soul I am. As this, ahem, lady, walked by me, she grabs my jacket and slings it over her arm with the others.

I did what anyone else would do, I think. I stood up and said, “Hey! That’s MY jacket! I’m right here!” Speaking her first words since coming in, she grunted, “Should have had it on.” Had it on!? What the hell did she mean by that?!

Keep in mind that this was mere hours after I’d written my piece on Petty Officers, and here, especially gift-wrapped as a late Christmas present was a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Not only that, but it’s a good demonstration of the way these people play their games.

First of all, to this officer’s thinking, “Who the hell do you think you are that you even deserve a coat?” You see, if she had her way, in summer, we’d be out there on the sidewalk in full-length fur coats, chained to a post. And in the midst of the coldest winters, her dress code would solely include tank tops and shorts. She might allow us shoes as long as we could buy them off the commissary to make the state money.

Then, also, she’s mad because I’m not panicking in her presence. She either assumes that every inmate in her path is doing dirt or ought to be acting like they are, but when your conscience is clear, it’s hard to hide. Guilt or innocence isn’t the issue, though. She just wants to communicate the message, “You see me coming’, you better start running’.”

Finally, it’s her desire to sow pandemonium and chaos in the “enemy” line. Never mind how senseless her actions are. Never mind that there never has been, and is not now, a rule that jackets “must be worn” in the dayroom. (Not even her mother would go along with that stupidity. Moms are famous for making you take your coat OFF indoors, not put them on, right?) And never mind that she is beating the bee hive that’s full of bees that weigh between 200 and 300 pounds and work out all the time. She somehow feels invincible behind her uniform, but the only thing that kept her safe from some of the guys that were really pissed off about having their water glasses turned over on their paper work from program was our parole status. No matter how bad you want to punch her in the face, you want to go home worse. At least this time, they did. But is it wise to bet on that every time you walk into a prison dorm and start acting stupid? I don’t think so.

This rookie rank and her behavior are the perfect example of what is so wrong with the unit and with this system. Here we are, days, weeks, or at most, months away from the door, and this woman’s banging pipes on the cage of the lion. And when one of these less-stable convicts does go off on her and loses his parole, what do you think he’s going to be thinking AFTER that?

What I’m worried about here is that the performance wasn’t done in ignorance of the risks involved, but an intentional push to see if she could make anyone go over the edge. You’ve all read these pages. You know how they think, and you know what kind of things they’re capable of when they get going. Is it possible this lady WANTS to start a riot, because this was a great way to do it? What purpose would it serve?

If we had run her out of the dorm and started burning our mattresses, TDCJ would have issued a statement telling you all how CRAZY it was to even give us parole in the first place. Dangerous criminals, and all. I just feel so thankful to be living in a dorm where “criminals” are smarter than that. Wish Sergeant Lee would get up to par.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez