Today the Mail Room messaged me and asked if I was expecting an offender's mom to be sending us one of our books back called Will I Ever be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. I remembered charging the offender for it a while back so I said I would take it and went down to get it, expecting some sort of apology on behalf of the offender when the mother realized that her daughter had stolen the book.
When I got the package back to the library, I noticed the mailing label was weird, and was actually an envelope addressed to her daughter rather than the library. I cut it off the package and inside was a whole long letter yelling at the daughter about how she needs to get her s*** together and she (the mom) is not going to buy her $50 worth of food because her daughter is not going to be in prison that long, and then it ended with: "And here's the book you probably owe the library for...stop blaming everyone else for your problems. Love, Mom."
It's ironic on so many levels, and always interesting to get a glimpse into the outside lives of our patrons.
Have you ever felt that everyone around you at work has lost their everloving minds? No? Well then you my friend are either unemployed or very lucky haha. For the rest of us, here is a story that will make you *facepalm* all the way through your head.
On Thursday I was leaving work and turning in all of my equipment, happy to be on my merry way on a fine Friday Eve, but little did I know that was not to be. Now, a little background before we get into the meat of this story for those of you who have not yet worked in a prison. When one becomes a prison employee, one is issued a variety of casino-chip like metal circles called "chits." These chits are made of metal but are sometimes rectangle-shaped, so maybe not everyone feels like they have won the slot machine when they turn in their equipment at the end of the day, I don't know, I guess it just depends on who makes them for you.
Anyway, I have pretty good attention to detail being a librarian, and I also had it ground into my brain in BT that you NEVER EVER EVER UNDER THE PENALTY OF SERIOUS BODILY INJURY forget or lose your chits. We were made to believe that, should one forget to bring their chits to work one day, or misplace a chit, tons of terrible things would happen, not the least of which would be the inability to get your necessary equipment that day. Needless to say, I am very protective of my two golden and one red chit and I was proud of the fact that I worked in prison for 5 years and 4 months and still had my original issue chits.
When I opened up the trap door to receive my chits that I had exchanged for my keys, radio, and OC, I was dismayed to see that the red one just looked...different. It was much shinier than I was used to, and when I turned it over to examine the engraved name on the front I was shocked to see a name that wasn't mine.
"Excuse me," I said to Master Control staff, "but this is not my chit." They came to the window and I gave it back to them because sometimes it happens where they just accidentally grab the wrong one. However, upon further examination of the OC holder bin, it was discovered that my chit WAS NOT THERE AT ALL. After a terse exchange with the Sergeant, it was determined that I should hold the incorrect chit "hostage" because some staff member (Day Shift, according to Swing Shift, naturally, because they all hate each other) gave this person my chit and the person with my chit clearly does not have as good of attention to detail as me so they didn't wonder why their formerly shiny red OC chit was suddenly beat up and not nearly as gleaming. Of course, this person had Friday/Saturday as their weekend so there was going to be no solution to this problem until Monday.
Well fast-forward to today and whadoyaknow but my chit was still MIA. I headed up to the library with a radio and keys and a fervent hope that today would not be the day where shenanigans went down in the library and I would need to issue my first burst of OC to a misbehaving offender. I opened my email to find a response to my request that the person with my chit please bring it to the library on Monday that said they had given it to Master Control yesterday. Ok, fine, I thought, I will call them back and let them know that it should be there. Unfortunately, Master Control staff still had no idea where my wayward chit had gone, (because Swing Shift re-lost it, according to Day Shift, naturally, because they all hate each other) so I was still out of luck. AND, not only did I not have MY chit, this staff member was "unable to leave the kitchen due to his responsibility of monitoring offenders" so I had to go out of MY way to give him back HIS chit. *sigh* People...
Now, future prison librarians, when equipment is lost or broken, a report must be written before anything can be fixed or replaced. So I wrote my report and made sure to make it clear that this was everyone's fault but mine, and got a response from the locksmith that I was, as always, perfect and would have a new chit by tomorrow. As I was leaving today and grumbling to the lobby officer that people really need to pay attention to things when they work in prison, he made an optimistic guess that it would turn up as soon as I got my new one. This gave me pause and shifted my perspective because as soon as he said that I realized that this seeming inconvenience might actually turn into a windfall of OC chits which would mean that instead of just one can of OC, I could potentially have TWO--ONE ON EACH HIP! Ha, take THAT, potential shenanigizers!
Greetings, loyal readers! It's your friendly neighborhood prison librarian back with an important PSA about personal hygiene in prison and where it is and is not ok to take care of your personal needs with regard to your cleanliness.
Yesterday I was looking something up in the office on my computer and one of the clerks came to the door and said, "Um. I don't want to be a tattle tale but there is a girl listening to music and clipping her nails out there and it is grossing me out." Since I am the Voice of Reason, I immediately went out and tapped on the table to get the attention of the perpetrator. Apparently she was very engrossed in what she was doing because I had to rap my knuckles not once or twice but THRICE before she acknowledged I was there.
With a heavy sigh she looked up at me and removed one headphone from her ear to her forehead and said annoyedly, "Yes?"
"I need to talk to you in the hallway please," I told her because if you remember from previous posts, one of the cardinal rules of prison librarianship is Don't Confront People About Things When They Have an Audience.
She spent a good 30 seconds wiping the nail clippings from her pants into her hand (at least it wasn't to the floor) and then she followed me out to the hallway where I informed her that nail clippers are not allowed in the library and doing personal hygiene is frowned upon in that setting and then I gave her the option to stay and I would send the nails clippers to Property or she could go back to her unit and lose the rest of her library time. Due to the fact that one has to work at least 3 days on prison pay to afford nail clippers, she elected to do the latter and returned to her unit, surprisingly with no attitude. Because she was compliant, I just gave her a verbal warning which should be enough to keep her from doing it again.
Now, on the positive side, I am glad that patrons feel so comfortable in the library, but whether you are clipping nails, threading eyebrows, or popping zits, there are just some places you don't do certain things and the library is one of them.