Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh, I Shouldn't Tell You That

     I celebrated a friend's birthday last the skating rink. Yes, seeing a bunch of thirty-something year olds on roller skates was pretty comical. I hadn't been skating since I was a kid. I expected the rink to be full of little brats and overheated teeny boppers. I was surprised to see adults. Not the parents, but actual adults there to make their rounds on eight tiny wheels.
     When we got ready to leave, I noticed an older man enter and sit on a bench. Well, he was one of my clients. As I walked up to him, he smiled and said, "I just flew in from Chicago." Okay, these folks can't travel without explicit permission and a typed travel permit. Suffice it to say, I had not given him permission to leave the parish, much less the state! His response to WHY he was in Chicago was, "Girls, women, good times, you know." Huh? No, I don't recall that in the travel brochure. I guess the look on my face brought him back to reality, because he blurted out, "Oh, I don't think I shoulda told you that. You look different!" Really, ya think?! I always find it amusing when they don't recognize me when I take off the uniform and put on makeup. He quickly recanted and said, "You know I ain't really been in Chicago. I know I can't go no where."
     As he pulled out his personally owned skates from his bag (seriously, this dude is 47 years old with NO kids), I asked him if he'd been drinking. At least he was honest when he replied, "You think I'd be flying if I wasn't drinking?" Ummm, didn't he just tell me he hadn't really been on an unapproved trip? So I asked him why he was drinking and why he was here on a Saturday night. He looked at me like I was crazy for having to ask and enthusiastically told me, "I really like skating!" I guess I should have seen that coming.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Can Count to Dog

Fa la la la la, it's Christmas time. All the houses I visit are decorated now. They've got trees & lights & stockings & blow up yard thingies. They've got presents wrapped under the tree. I have a solitary stocking hanging from the mantle...for my puppy. That gets us to the point of this tale.

I went to visit a client this morning. He had reported a new address, so I'd gone to verify it and approve it. There were two cars in the driveway & a dead Santa and reindeer in the yard. Okay, not really dead, but the plug to their air blowers had been pulled from the wall, so they looked like festive victims of a holiday drive-by. The subject answered the door and directed me to the room he shares with his girlfriend. We had our usual, "Are there any guns or drugs here? Of course not ma'am." conversation. The girlfriend said this was her father's house & he was letting them stay here. All seemed good.

As I got ready to leave, I walked back through the living room to the front door. That's when I saw them...24 Christmas stockings. Yes, twenty-four, I counted them. I have no excuse for not seeing them when I came in, except that only three were in my line of sight when I originally entered the house. Three were hung from the mantle, two hung from a shelf, and nineteen hung from hooks on the wall. Stunned and dizzy from the swirling holiday twilight zone, I asked the subject how many people live here. He responded, "Oh, just the two of and her and her dad (pause) and his wife." Ummm, I may be wrong, but I think that equals four. He's working on his GED. Isn't basic math a portion of that test? Of course, nothing he said explained the 24 freaking Christmas stockings scattered around the living room, and yes, each had a different glittered name on it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I Am an Army of One

So sometimes I see old familiar faces. In my 12+ years at this job, I've seen many of the same folks come through my doors again and again and again and...well, you get the idea. Today was one of those days. I had a drunk revisit me. Normally drunks are pretty passive and not much of a bother, other than that whole, 'I don't really have a drinking problem' thing. This guy isn't too much different, except for that minor 'I need to be loved when I'm drunk' thing he's got going on. Okay, not to get into detail, but when he's drunk, he's walking a fine line to becoming a sex offender. Since I already knew about this, I was prepared today. During his intake, I immediately referred him to various counseling services. He wasn't happy about it. Apparently only me & the local PD & his neighbors & his prospective victims are aware of his inclinations when intoxicated, since he conveniently forgets all of his missteps.
When I had finished my portion of the intake, I delivered him to a clerical for fingerprinting. These ladies have heard all sorts of fun ramblings, blurtings, and unprompted utterances in their short exposure to our clients. I guess the clients feel "safe" when there's no longer a gun in the room. The clerical that processed this guy came to see me when she had completed his procedure, to share what he had told her. He announced to her that, 'I'd rather take on the Hun Army, cross the entire forces, than cross her' (speaking of me). Wow, I think I'm blushing. Maybe I should start wearing bars & stars on my shoulders. Or maybe eagles. What do ya think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What's My Name?

     I don't make friends with my clients. I am polite, but not friendly. I am concerned, but not intimate. I expect them to say "yes ma'am" and call me Officer or Ms. or Agent. I have often said that if I don't invite you to my home for dinner, then you have no business calling me by my first name. Sometimes this is too much to comprehend.
     I was completing paperwork on a new case today. I introduced myself as his new officer. I gave him my card, with my name on it. I signed my name to his paperwork, with my name. Well, throughout our conversation, he called me by my first name. I corrected him. He did it again. I corrected him.
     Now, I knew he wasn't the brightest bulb in the ceiling fan. He needed a lesson on proper methods of brushing your teeth. I wasn't prepared to give him that. I told him he needed to return to a rehabilitation class in which he had previously been enrolled. When I told him the location, he got frantic and said, "wait, it's not where it used to be?" So I asked him where he was talking about and he named the SAME street I had just provided. See, he's either not bright or totally deaf or I may have slipped into Pig Latin, thus confusing him even further. Then I reminded him that he owes a fine. He said he knew it was due within a certain period of months, but then he got distraught. He wanted to know if the time period started while he was in jail., I don't think the court thinks you're going to have the means to pay a $2,500.00 while incarcerated.
     So, after slow and methodically explaining everything, twice, I felt he was ready to leave my office and venture home. Maybe he could figure out how to do that, I mean, heck, he'd figured out how to get to my office. By the way, did I mention that when I'd gone to the lobby to get him, he didn't realize I was calling him, both of the times that I had called his FULL name. Anyway, as I was escorting him out of the building, he said "thanks Vicki". Well, I reminded him that he can not call me that, to which he responded, "well, what's your name then?" At this point, I really felt like just responding, "call me Ishmael", but I figured that would be lost on him. What do ya think?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not the Mama

   Do y'all remember that old tv show with the dinosaurs and the little one would bang on another one's head yelling, "Not the mama, not the mama"? Well, I really wanted to do that recently. I've stated before that I don't have children. I don't have babies or infants or toddlers or preteens or teens or grown kids. I don't have natural born or adopted or step children. I don't have ANY, unless you consider Charlie, my miniature long-haired chihuahua, to be my "child". I don't get startled or turn suddenly in public places when I hear a small, annoying voice call out "Mommmmaaaaa". I know they're not calling to me.
   Well, last night I stopped to see a "client" at his new residence. He was sitting on the porch with another gentleman. As I exited my vehicle, the client approached me in the front yard. He greeted me with, "Hey, whassup mama?" What? Who? Who are you talking to? Is there someone behind me? I asked him what he'd said. I thought maybe I didn't hear him correctly or maybe he didn't recognize me (in my uniform shirt and gun and badge) or maybe I'm crazy and made it up in my head. Well, he repeated it, so I asked him why on earth he called me mama. He said "Oh, I call all pretty ladies mama". So, I reminded him of my name and my title and what he should call me.
   During this brief exchange all I could think was "I'm not your mama". If I was your mama, you wouldn't be having this conversation with me. Seriously, do you think I would give birth to, then raise a drug dealing, drunk, violent felon? Okay, I know that even good parents can end up with bad seed children, so let me expound on how I know that wouldn't be me. I don't have kids because I'm a fan of violence. I like corporal punishment. I like discipline. I like for children to be children and adults to be adults. I don't want kids, because those screaming brats in restaurants and the Walmart make me almost understand shaking kids til their heads pop off. I don't want to have children, love them, then go to jail for slapping them silly. No, if I was his mama, he would have been raised with a fear that would have kept him out of jail. I know that fear, because my daddy ingrained it in me. By the way, I've never been to jail.
   Besides, what does it mean he thinks of his real mama, if he refers to every hot chick he sees by her "name"? Ummm...Freudian much?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

That Outfit Is Criminal

     You've all seen them. They're on television, movie screens, magazine covers, at schools, in stores, and walking down the street. Yes, I'm talking about those unfortunate individuals who have starved themselves to the point where their pants simply won't stay on their waist. I don't know what causes this phenomenon, but I have a few guesses. Maybe their nutritional education is so low that they don't know how to eat in order to maintain a healthy weight. Maybe their funds are so limited that they can't actually buy clothes, thus leaving them no choice but to accept hand-me-downs from their morbidly obese relatives. Maybe they are too poor to actually afford food and are slowly and painfully dwindling away physically. Maybe they had large amounts of money once, so they spent it all on gastric bypass surgery, but then had no money left to buy a new wardrobe once they'd reached their goal weight. Maybe they are confused by the American fashion sizing system and erroneously believe that the number listed on the tag inside a pair of pants is supposed to be representative of their beverage choice, thereby resulting in a multitude of skinny young males dressed in size 40 jeans.
     Well, I had occasion to discuss this with a young man today. As he entered my office, he was dressed in oversize, long, denim shorts, plaid boxers (I know his underwear choice because I could see most of them protruding from the "waistband" of his shorts), house slippers, and an undershirt (a "wife-beater" which may have been white when first purchased). I commented to another employee that it breaks my heart to see so many young individuals who can't afford clothing that actually fits. The client overheard my statement, pulled up his shorts (without tightening the accompanying belt), then looked at me and said, "I'm sorry. I didn't know they was showing". Well, I wasn't in the best of moods, so his response didn't sit well with me.
     Naturally, I was obliged to respond to his denial of knowledge about his attire. {Warning: this is where the ridiculous run-on sentences begin} I tried to clarify that it was not possible that he did not know his underwear were showing or that his pants were sagging below his rear end or that his belt wasn't tight enough to keep his pants where they were meant to be worn. I emphasized that his wardrobe choice and personal appearance were conscious decisions and that he intentionally put on pants that were too big with the desire that his underwear could and would be seen by everyone who crossed his path. I then informed him that his "shirt" wasn't a shirt, but was actually an undershirt, by definition, meant to be worn under a shirt. I finished by communicating to him that not only did he look absurd, but that he was breaking the law. Oh yes, my city actually got it right. It is illegal in this city to wear pants below the waist, revealing your underwear. Of course, if you're feeling especially sexy, feel free. Okay, not free...the fine ranges from $100 to $250.

Monday, October 18, 2010

There are these things called clocks.

   So today was a pretty busy day. I knew it was going to be busy. I had prepared myself to drown in paperwork. I had five new cases report today for intake. The process is lengthy and involves lots of carpal tunnel inducing typing. I knew last week that I was going to have these cases report, so I had made appointments accordingly. Each new intake can consume anywhere from thirty minutes to over an hour, depending on how much they feel like talking. Foolishly I had made my appointments based on my ability to adhere to a schedule. I, of course, am not lacking a clock or the ability to read one. I scheduled each case to report on the hour, one hour after another.
   Naturally, my very first appointment was late. He was late by twenty-five minutes. Obviously, this had the potential to blow my entire day's line-up. So, I asked him why he was late. I expected one of any of the standard answers: "I overslept." "I had a flat tire." "I missed the bus." "I forgot what time I was supposed to be here." What I got was none of these. Instead, he responded, "I WAS here at eight." Of course, I tried to explain that 8:25 is not the same as 8:00. I should have known that would be too much to understand. This time he was adamant when he said, "But I got here at 8:25." Okay, I tried again by agreeing with him (positive reinforcement is supposed to work on children and imbeciles, right?). While I agreed that he had arrived at 8:25, which was, in fact, 25 minutes late, he simply looked at me in wonder and asked "What's the difference?" Oh, I don't know, maybe about twenty-five minutes??
   By the way, another appointment was two hours early and my last appointment was almost forty minutes late. In the past, I've considered getting each of my clients a calendar so they'd know which day of the month to report. Apparently that needs to be a package deal with a clock. Of course, it would need to be digital, because I really don't need the headache of explaining the Mickey Mouse hands on an analog clock.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Exactly how many kids do you have?

   Often times, the court orders my clients to pay restitution to the victims of their crimes. If they don't pay, they have to stand in front of the judge and try to give some semblance of a decent reason. If they can't provide a reasonable explanation, they get the opportunity for the state to provide them with new clothes, new jewelry, a chef, laundry workers, personal security, and a chauffeur...all in a gated community.
   So, a young lady had not been making payments. I returned her to the court for her "excuse session". This was what came out of her mouth, "Uh, Mr. Judge, I ain't paid all my restitution 'cause I been on two probations for like four years and I got fees and stuff to pay in both cases and I got like nine kids and it's hard on me."
   Okay, let's review that. Our state is not run by evil monsters, so no matter how many "probations" she might have been serving at once, she would only be ordered to pay one fee. I'm a smoker (no, I don't want to hear your crap about it, either), so I know how much cigarettes cost. MANY of my clients brands, like Marlboro, Newport, and Kool. The cost of smoking one pack a day for a month, is approximately $120.00 more than the monthly supervision fee my clients are supposed to pay. Next, she committed a crime AND got caught, so the natural progression of things means she has to pay fees, fines, court costs, and repay the victim. Crime ain't cheap. Finally, "I got like nine kids"...did y'all catch that? How do you have "like nine kids"? You either have nine or you don't. Maybe you have eight or ten, but unless I missed some major lessons in Biology, you can't have near any number of kids. I'm currently not a parent, but I don't run around telling people I "got like one kid" or any other number, for that matter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Felons & Job Security

   Most of my friends don't live in my world of drugs, guns, and violence. I've been engulfed in that world for over twelve years. I regularly get caught in conversations about all the stupid crap I hear. There was a time I would get amazed by the things that come out of other people's mouths. Rarely does that happen anymore, but I can recognize when something is so absurd that it's comical. About a year ago, I started quoting some of these conversations on another page. I figured I could give my friends a laugh and laugh off some of the stress of my days. Eventually folks started telling me I should write a book, so I figured I try my hand at blogging first. Please pardon me while I learn what the heck I'm doing.
   I've heard everything from "Marijuana ain't a drug, 'cause it's a plant", to "Somebody been puttin' coke in my coke, so I didn't know I was gettin' high." There are always the standard liars, but the ones that'll really get ya are the ones who have no idea how stupid they sound. It's also fun to see random things in the areas where I work. Either our country's mental health issues are seriously underreported or long term drug addiction can result in the most comical behavior I've ever witnessed.
   Okay, I'm going to warn you now. I'm a bit cynical. I deal with people who make poor choices on a consistent basis. I don't dislike any race, religion, gender, or age, but I gotta tell you, I HATE STUPID. With that said, I have no idea how I managed to get into a profession overflowing with it. So, be sure to step away occassionally, so your face doesn't get stuck in that "WTH" expression.
   Here's a taste of what I deal with:
During the course of my job, I have to visit homes. I have to verify residences and employment and girlfriends and baby mommas and school and treatment. Basically, I have to "get all up in their Cheerios". While arguing with a client about his actual residence (as opposed to the address he provided me), he said "just because you've never seen me there, even at 10:30pm & my mom says I don't live there & I don't answer my phone when you call & then turn it off...none of that means I'm lying about where I live!" Okay, how is any sane, logical person supposed to respond to that?