It was a good day

[it wuhz a good dey]: The song was meant to be a contrast to the other songs on Ice Cube’s album, The Predator, which was recorded in the wake of the LA Riots of 1992. According to Cube, “The inspiration was my life at the time… I was at the top of the rap game. It was the summer of ’92 and I was in a hotel room, really in a state of euphoria. I had all the money I had dreamed of. I was in a good frame of mind. And I remember thinking, ‘Okay, there’s been the riots, people know I will deal with that. That’s a given. But I rap all this gangsta stuff – what about all the good days I had?”

 

The House That God Has Forgotten Part 23: What makes us.

When I dropped my daughter off at school today I went to McDonalds and got my favourite breakfast. Ok they fucked up my order like they always do, but I did not care.

The sun was shining outside today, so I bought my daughter a new and shiny purple bike. We took our first ride and had an ice cream in the sun.

I missed holiday traffic. I did not need a jacket when I took the dog out for his evening walk.

Spring is in the air.

It makes me think about The House That God Has Forgotten. I am in an inner debate with myself as I drive all over the city to take my daughter to school…

“Should I have a speech at the annual jail party?”

It is kind of hard to say positive thins about what happens at The House That God Has Forgotten. We deal with a lot of shit, not only figuratively, but literally. We have people that yell at us all day, we have people that destroy televisions, throw food and even if we are unfortunate they urinate and shit in their cells and leave it all over the place.

You people put up with a lot. From grinding the chains on that restriction floor asking 24 people the same questions; Coffee or tea? Promenade? Running back and forth, taking this guy to the gyn, this one wants to call his lawyer, and the third one he wants to take a shower. All while answering that stupid port telephone with the sound that is like fingernails sliding down a chalkboard (if you are older you will get that one).  All the while there is that guy you hear nothing from. It scares you, because he is probably feeling the worst of all, and you just don’t have the time to do anything about it.

You that work out there where the prisoners run free for hours a day. The watching them eat from the food carts like cows just getting their morning hay. In the back you see that weak guy that always gets a little less than everyone else. It is something you try to stop, but it is tough…you standing up to the other 23.

You answer countless questions; “Have you heard about this?” “when will this get fixed?” “Have you heard about?”

You all know their lives better than anyone else. You have become their mother and fathers they never had, the ones that teach them discipline, and the ones that let that guy not take a shower because it makes him feel better not doing it.

You remind them to put on a jacket before they go to promenade because it is cold outside, and you make sure that they always have enough cigarettes to smoke before they go up there. All neatly laid out on a little white cart like bricks on a wall.

You watch as people walk in from that fateful police car. Elevator number 9. Where everyone comes in and out like cattle being sent from here to there or taken in for the first time. Abbreviations like ÖVN mean trouble because you know for the next three days they will spend in the corridor sobering up to get released again. You will smell puke and you will hand out that extra blanket as they freeze and sweat in a matter of seconds.

You watch as the people that are scared come in for the first time, the sad because they are locked away for only God knows how long, and those that only care about smoking a cigarette when they get up to their cells.

You see when people go over the edge and have no where else but to a room with a mattress on the floor. Sometimes even with someone staring at you non stop through a shaded glass window. Waiting, and waiting.

You will watch as these same people you met at elevator 9 see their kids and wives. When you sit in a room and watch a crying mother talk to her son while you sit there and listen. All they want to do is put their shaking and trembling arms around their son, but you have to be strong enough to say no. Even as a parent yourself.

You to it all, and you do not do it for the money no matter how much you get paid.

I don’t think anyone dreams of being a prisoner guard as a child. You never hear the sentence; “This is something I have dreamed about since I was a child”. Instead we all landed here. Some on the look for a stable job, others after the university looking to land, and some that are just passing through. Some have been here and leave forever, Some leave and then find their way back. The House That God Has Forgotten is like that.

Their are a lot of fun things that happen in the corridors we work. People dance up and down while walking by. They laugh, they smile and they even have a certain sparkle in their eyes when the almost cry laughing so hard.

Some people make an impression on me. The woman that wore her belt on one side of her hip and could say anything to any prisoner. “What did you do now this time?” as she was walking down the corridor into his waiting cell after being arrested. She is what you would call a real corrections officer, one that you and everyone else said she was great with the prisoners.

The one that had everything memorised. Her and I would work as a team those days. We would ring each other privately and planed. We worked the place like a puzzle. She was always fun to work with, and sadly she left and I don’t think working hiss number 9 will ever be the same again.

It is about watching that one girl on the tenth floor fanning herself with a clipboard by  elevator eleven because it is so hot up there. While at the same time I am wearing a jacket because it is always freezing no matter where I work.

It is the other girl that waves her hands in the air because the smell runs out of the hallway. I sit and watch and silently smile, not because I am making fun of her, but because I know what she is talking about even though she does not see me.

It is that woman that does everything at lightning speed and says only one word on the radio. You cannot understand the joy in my eyes when I see her sitting next to me on the 12th floor, or down there on the floor below me. I know everything is going to happen fast. It is pure joy.

It is knowing people how fast they work. “She is good,” you can think to yourself as you see her by the elevator.

It is about knowing who is new and seeing the look of confusion in their eyes. I want to reach through the camera and say to them “Give it time. You have all the time in the world to get better, as long as you try”

It is the people that smile when you past by, the hug from old comrades or the asking how my daughter is and still remembering her name.

People at The House That God Has Forgotten is what makes the place a little world that I spend more waking hours with than my own family. For both the good and the bad, we laugh together, we lean on each shoulders when things are not always good in our lives, and we share laughter.

I will get very little sleep tonight. I will crawl out of bed in the morning and down my medicine with a caffeine tablet with a can of Sprite. I will get in that car a little bit earlier to make it in time to get my favourite breakfast at McDonalds; a double sausage egg McMuffin, 2 hash browns, a orange juice and a medium latte. I will eat and drink it cold, but I won’t care. Tomorrow is going to be a good day, I can feel it.

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