The RRR finds himself working this night as a correction officer. This is what it's like.
The call came from the Head Jailer on tuesday. There's been a shake up in personnel and help is needed urgently. Can I work a night shift? Ask an old soldier to get in uniform. Better than holding up a meat scrap for a puppy.
Wednesday night arrives. I've slept since 1830. Up as always a few minutes before the alarm rings. Get the uniform ready. Polish the golden badge on a soft cloth. It always goes on the left side over the heart. Name tag over the right pocket. Short sleeve kakhi shirt. Pager clipped to the right epulette. Forest green trousers with kakhi stripes down the leg. In the left front pocket the police radio. Cord stretches up to the microphone clipped to the left epulette. On the belt a handcuff holder and the snap clip for the jail keys. In the small of the back, the hide-out holster.
Mrs. RRR prepares my lunch. I heat up a cup of coffee. Before I walk the dog, the final ceremony. Get the .45 out of the safe. Drop out the magazine. Work the action to clear out the cartridge from the chamber, leaving the action locked open. The deadly looking fat little cartridge rolls across the table, twinkling in the light. Slap in a different magazine, release the slide, it snaps forward peeling off the top cartridge and chambering it. Set the safety. Now the magazine is one cartridge short. Drop the mag out and press the cartridge from the table in on top. Chunk the mag back into the gun. A ritual performed every time I leave the house to go on duty. Make sure the gun is ready. Keep rotating magazines. I will carry the .45 all of 20 minutes to the jail. Once inside it will go immediately into a gun locker and stay there till I leave. Why bother? Easy... most jailers are attacked between their car in the parking lot and the door or on their way to the car at the end of the shift. It's the one time they are vulnerable and in a position to be used as a hostage in an escape or have revenge wreaked upon them.
To work... the jail is still in the basement of the old county courthouse. It is over 100 years old. Soon there will be a new jail outside of town, but I like this one. It has character. And ghosts. At least one. It doesn't bother me and I don't bother it. Designed for maybe 20 prisoners, it is now licensed for 11 which is my census for the night. The cells are mostly cages in the middle of a large basement room. I can walk all the way around and check each prisoner as I do rounds. There are the usual requests and complaints. I deal with each as I make first rounds at 2300. Check all the doors to make they're securely locked. At each cell I push a time clock that records I was actually there. Shut off the phones in the cells. Shut off the power to the TV's. Bedtime for the guests.
Move laundry from the washer to the dryer. Begin the little busy jobs of cleanup that keep the jail neat and presentable. Pray there will be no arrests to book in. Call Mrs. RRR and wish her goodnight. She will worry.
One more night. One more paycheck.