[hahy-wey toh hel]: The title is often attributed as a phrase AC/DC guitarist Angus Young used to describe touring in America. There is a much more literal explanation, however. “Highway to Hell” was the nickname for the Canning Highway in Australia. It runs from where lead singer Bon Scott lived in Fremantle and ends at a pub/bar called The Raffles, which was a big rock ‘n roll drinking hole in the ’70s. As Canning Highway gets close to the pub, it dips down into a steep decline: “No stop signs… speed limits… nobody gonna slow me down.”
The House That God Has Forgotten Part 2: When the Rubber Hits the Road; the beginning of it all.
It was the spring of 2011 when we first opened the doors to the House That God Has Forgotten. We had been there since February doing something called “establishment education” it was basically us sitting around and trying to find our way around all the hallways.
Wires hand from the ceilings, and doors only opened with keys. No fancy electronics like today. We got to go on tours and look around, listen to lectures and have it pumped in our heads…
“You are the elite. You will be making this jail the best jail ever!”
And we ate it up.
“This is going to be great, we can make the routines, security, security.” we all said as we bought new police boots and had shiny new uniforms on.
I had an old pair of army boots that I had worn back in the day…polished leather. You could see your face in the foot of it.
We were going to be awesome.
The bosses lined themselves up and introduced themselves. One of them had a deep accent from the south of Sweden and I had no idea what she was saying.
“I hope she is not our boss.” I mumbled while I was trying to understand her. It turned out more than once over the years she had to speak English to me to understand what on Earth she was talking about.
She is gone now. Just like about everyone else from back in the day.
Myself and a guy at work the other day counted how many of us are left in The House God Has Forgotten from that fateful spring day… we counted 25 and that was including all staff members, middle bosses and bosses. It has now become a badge of honour to be one of the 25 left because you can say;
“I have been here 8 years, I saw the doors open to this place.”
And I remember before how it was before we opened the doors to that place. We took ID cards to get in. Sitting at a table guarding the entrance way that people now use electronic keys to get into without thinking anything about it.
There was bravado between the floors. “I am the best because I work on the security floor” and “I am the toughest because I work on the fifth floor” The other guys just were there trying to decide how to hand out hot water in a thermos and not loose their keys that were attached to a chain on their belt.
There were no batons or pepper spray in the very, very, beginning. Just a bunch of people who determined their “coolness” by what floor they work on (a bit like today actually).
There were no security checks so you would look in the cameras from up above and see people flipping through their old iPhones reading the latest news or chatting away to someone they knew.
“I am working at a high security jail and there are no inmates. I am so bored.”
I am almost positive there are some old phones sitting up there in the ceilings of those floor that were waiting to be smuggled into prisoners cells.
The plan was to open the The House That God Has Forgotten slowly on a floor to floor basis. Unluckily for us it was the security wing of the jail.
“10th floor security” they would answer their phones with a certain snobbery tone in their voices.
10th floor security was no fun for anyone but the ego tripped over confident and snobbish people who worked there at the time.
Back in guard central where I worked, we sat late at night and guarded the main entrance alone waiting for fire alarms while the other sat up in the control room. It was long 13 hour shifts with no internet and nothing to do but ponder about what a great place The House That God Has Forgotten was going to be.
Such big dreams we had.
We used to play with the kids outside with our walkie talkies we had in the control room. Pretend we were other little kids wanting to play.
And the funniest thing about sitting there by those rotating doors taking ID cards was meeting all the half drunk and stoned people that were there to meet their probation officer.
One man was so drunk we convinced him we all came from different countries. Patrick became Paddy from Ireland and that nickname “Paddy” has stuck with him over all of these years.
I cannot remember the last time I every called him Patrick after that.
We had it pretty nice in our group. The company that was making our software felt guilty at the time because everything was not working so they took us out to lunch all the time. Free food is something you never turn down.
If it was not free food we were eating, we were taking 3 hour lunches and sneaking out to go home. We were in essence getting paid to sit on sofas on the third floor and just….wait.
I remember having a tour of the rooms all the visitors would me their loved ones. I sat on the new and nice blue sofa and said out loud.
“This will be the first and last time I ever sit on this couch” (and if you saw them now after 8 years of lovingly visits you would understand why) even in my bright eyes I still knew what would be going on in there soon.
Floors would change from being this and having this to something. The 8th floor was not supposed to be for younger inmates and the 7th was never meant back in the day to have women like it did for awhile.
People moved floor because of those women moving in there. They were not having none of that drama.
I was there when the first car came in with and inmate to The House That God Has Forgotten. I got to watch it, but not let them in. Everything was not working so the computer technicians did it for us.
I watched them fight there way through the 5th floor that had the motto “We are not going to take any shit from anyone” all the way up to “We are the shit” on the 10th floor.
We watched this again and again and again until still only being able to look through a camera the whole house was full.
When they would send an inmate to promenade or to have a visit guards rode with them in the tiny elevators. Doors were locked on the 11th floor and all of the inmates that wanted to smoke were escorted with keys and guards at their sides.
The person that ran the gigantic and overpowering board was people from the other floors. Not us in the control center. That changed, but that is for a later post later in this series.
Everything was chaos. Nothing worked. No one had any idea what they were doing and it was all just the “elite” fumbling around like a teenage boy during his first make out session in High School.
All the gangs from my first post in The House That God Has Forgotten were there, they are just new faces.
I remember running into an inmate while he was cleaning the floor of this floor. He looked at me with pride in his eyes;
“I helped build this place” he said
It made my eyes fall out of my head.
I also remember the other inmates walking though the tunnels after going to court and being told that they were going to jail.
“Please… I beg you. Don’t send me to Sollentuna”
Stayed tuned for part 3: I know there’s something going on.
[Edit]: For those of you that have been so offended by this text I am obviously not meaning you or you wouldn’t not be so bothered by it.This text has to your with various experiences I had with a certain group from that floor who used the whole plan as there group (or at least described themselves for the who group and that is why I have “drawn a comb over everyone” on that floor. Words like “we are” can I think represent a group of more that one person.