Things Can Only Get Better

[things kan ohn-lee get bet er]: “I thought, People are listening to me, so what can I give them that is really going to help? And everyone goes through s–t. Everyone goes through bad times. Every single person on the planet goes through bad times. And it’s great sometimes to have somebody say to you, ‘Come on, even if it gets so you lose everything and everything goes horribly wrong, you can still pick yourself up and go forward, and you can make it right, you can make things get better.'” – Howard Jones

 

The House That God Has Forgotten Part 28: The speech.

So if you have not noticed I have been a bit busy lately. Busy Writing a speech for the summer party we had at work. It turned out to be a very long sppech and that I am sorry for, but I could not help myself I had a lot to write about (it’s not easy to write about every floor, night guards,LC,VB and BC and keep it short).

Like all things a person writes about there is Always some critique. Some people thought it was too long, others thought I should have spoken more about my co-workers.

On the line about my co-workers I did speak about them. I spoke the whole time about them. Them and the struggles they face with inmates that are rough to deal with, and those who are not, but are also in crisis.

It is a reflection of what we deal with everyday at The House That God Has Forgotten. We deal with people, some are a real pain in the ass, and others are actually nice people that ended up taking a bad path or making wrong choices in Life.

We deal with struggles. We deal with having that guy who destroys the TV and flags all the time.

We deal with alarms, and we also deal with the newly enforced obligations of translating instead of being able to be on the floor of where you work.

It takes a lot out of you. It takes a lot out of me to see it everyday, and to not be able to do anything about it.

So for those of you that have missed it, or even want to read it in a Little bit more piece and quiet instead of listening to it while I stood up in front of a million people and shook like Bambi on ice… I can post it on here (or at least try to).

Thank you again to everyone that came up to me after and gave me your support. It means a lot and I appericiate it.

Here it is…my speech in full and unedited.

Titanium: It is a lustrous transition metal with a silver color, low density, and high strength. Titanium is resistant to corrosion in sea water, aqua regia, and chlorine.

It all starts that moment as you wait by that glass door. You can’t help but push that little silver call button.

The sound of the lock turning as you reach your hand to turn the lever.

Your day has started, you have arrived.

You walk through that metal detector with your feet feeling a little heavier with each step.

You push star as you quickly run your tag over the black box with numbers.

You hear that lock change.

You open the door.

Yes, you have arrived.

Everything flies on auto pilot. The opening of key and rakel boxes.

The opening of weapon safes.

The putting the belt around your waist, and the sound of the keys rustling like a dog with a bell fastened to its collar.

Yes, you have arrived.

You walk the halls grinding the chains like flight attendants and air traffic controllers sitting at the port of it all.

Gym here.

Telephone there.

Shower down the corridor.

I watch you. I watch three of you standing by a door speaking through its little hole. Tactical 3 man, handcuffs he wears when he is out of his cell.

Today he has decided to smash his television. Clear shards lie on the floor like ice formed over a puddle that some 7-year-old has stepped on while walking to school.

He has thrown food on his floor, and he dances around in his cell until his morning cornflakes disengrate into powder under his bare feet.

He bangs on the wall.

He screams.

“We have to move him,” you say while slowly walking off down the corridor so he does not hear you.

You wait for the white helmets to pick him up and as they do his body lies limp.

It is his silent protest, him being dragged down the long corridor.

New room.

No TV.

No Paradise hotel to watch, you become his entertainment.

Pushing that button running flags to the stentophone.

You are stuck to your seat like super glue, and the constant sound of ringing makes you dream of it when you are at home sleeping in your bed.

He yells.

He says senseless babble and just wants to make you crazy.

He succeeds.

Down the corridor sits a man that never pushes the button.

You never hear a flag and you never get any protest from him.

He sits silently in his room, and looks at the walls.

He has been in that room for months now, looking at the same four walls.

He knows where all the graffiti is.

He sees ACAB and FTP and a bunch of numbers he does not understand.

As he sits there, the television does not do it for him anymore.

He has seen all the shows and knows them by heart too.

He can tell you who wins Paradise Hotel, he knows, he has seen it all.

He cries silently in his cell.

Washing the red from his eyes with cold water when he knows it is time to get his food.

However, you see it. You can imagine the tears running down his pale face.

 

You wish you could tell him he will not be sitting alone like this for the rest of his life.

I watch you as you wish you could do something for him, but you can’t. There is never enough time. There are only 10 hours of your shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and you have to be titanium.

I watch you. I watch you as you stand in front of the door alone.

Speaking through the same little hole that the people above you do.

This man never leaves you alone.

“I want to speak to my lawyer” he demands from you.

“I am innocent!” he exclaims as you take the phone away.

You look at him and you know it is not true, you have seen the pictures.

Arms covered in bruises and a face with an eye which is blue and swollen.

He loves paper.

He has his own stack of hemställan in his cell.

One for a pen.

One for a pair of flip flops.

One to write a complaint.

This time the food was too cold.

Yesterday because it was fish, and it was undercooked.

He asks you for your name every day. You spell it too him.

“A N N A” and yet he does not understand.

You show him your nametag.

You flash your tjänsteleg.

You give him a tired look, and you lift your shoulders up to your chin.

Nothing you do is right.

“What will it be this time?” you wonder as you walk down the corridor.

In the cell next to him there sits a man who never asks for paper and never says he is innocent.

He takes his food and his stick of coffee and lies in silence in his bed.

His body in the fetal position facing the wall, he waits for time to go by.

He never goes to promenade.

He never goes to the gym and only leaves his room when it is time to take a shower.

He wears his green clothes and you see the weight falling off him like leaves during the beginning of November.

You wish you could get him to talk to you and smile at you when you bring him his dinner.

I watch you as you wish you could do something for him, but you can’t. There is never enough time. There are only 10 hours of your shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and you have to be titanium.

I watch you. I watch you walk onto your floor and you look at the guard list.

You forgot that today you are the activity person.

Entertaining, sport hall.

You take the elevator to the 9th floor and ask to go over to the other side.

The elevator is covered in spit and text written by saliva.

You stand in the middle with your co-worker so close that you look like two newly infatuated lovers on a spring day in the middle of the city.

You push the button, you open the door and you wait until they come up the elevator to meet them.

12 teenagers and a volleyball, except today it is different.

You feel it in the air, something is not right.

Minutes later punches fly.

Blood on the floor and you push the alarm.

“Where is the larmstrykan?”

“where is the larmstrykan?” You start to think with a panic in your brain.

If they go after you it is 2 against 12 and you will never have a chance.

You stand there and wait.

Seconds feel like years, and you have never felt so alone in your life.

On the floor below sits a teenager in his cell.

“Don’t worry mom. I am ok. It’s not your fault.”

He looks at the paper and tries to formulate the words, but he can’t.

Not because he is too sad to find the words, but because he has never learned to read and write.

All of those years where he thought school was not important have now come crashing down on him like a mudslide.

He is falling deep, and nothing can help him get out of the hole.

He goes up to promenade.

You walk into his room.

Search.

You find the unwritten letters saying the same thing over and over again scratched out with a blue pen.

“Don’t worry mom. I am ok. It’s not your fault.”

You wish you could sit down and teach him how to write a letter to his mother.

I watch you as you wish you could do something for him, but you can’t. There is never enough time. There are only 10 hours of your shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and you have to be titanium.

I watch you. I watch you walk into the break room and you were sure you were working the corridor, but you are two short that day and they have taken two new people to fill holes in the schedule.

Nothing is ever set in stone at Häktet Sollentuna.

Instead you will be working admin.

You will run here and there all day.

Handing out food to those on the restriction side and then searching inmates on their way to gemensant promenade.

You will run.

Fax this. Fax that.

Get the mail. Leave the mail.

Collect the medicine and leave the plastic pill boxes behind.

While putting the medicine away you see him from the corner of your eye.

He walks a little slower, and he walks alone up and down the corridor.

He hides in his room, and is always the last to go to promenade and to get his food.

He wears the jacket that is too big, or too small and gets the least to eat at dinnertime.

He lives for the scraps.

When you say something, they always give you the same answers:

“We need the restriction places.”

If you alert them to the situation they tell you:

“He has to ask for it himself.”

You wish you could sit down alone with him and explain that he does not have to be treated this way.

I watch you as you wish you could do something for him, but you can’t. There is never enough time. There are only 10 hours of your shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and you have to be titanium.

I watch you. I watch as they run up and down the corridor asking you the same questions and following you like a small child running to the ice cream truck.

“Have you heard anything about…” one asks as you pass by the gym.

“I wrote a hemställan 2 hours ago…” another traps you as you go by where they eat their food.

You see him sitting there all alone at table.

No one talking to him.

He has no one there that speaks his language and he is a man surrounded by people, but all alone in his little world.

He looks at you and wants to say something.

You start to walk over to him.

Someone walks onto the floor. They look at you with a that needy look in their eyes.

“I need you to come up here and translate.” They say as you have to leave and wonder what it is that he wanted.

All he needed a new pair of pants, his are way too big for him and fall down when he walks, but you will never find this out because you are far away from him now.

You wish you would have had the time to translate with smiles and hand gestures.

I watch you as you wish you could do something for him, but you can’t. There is never enough time. There are only 10 hours of your shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and you have to be titanium.

I watch you and I see the white towel under the door.

Someone has urinated, flooded his cell or a little of both.

The hallway has the smell of ammonia as you walk quickly up and down to do your hourly checks on him to see how he is doing.

He sits in OBS.

The end of the line.

Mattress on the floor or a horse blanket to sleep in.

Finger food because he cannot be trusted with a knife or fork and cardboard food boxes all over the floor.

You look in and you notice that he has now started throwing shit on the door.

I know this because the towel is starting to have brown on it from the water flowing out of the cell.

An hour goes by.

This time you cannot bare the smell.

Menthol nose plugs neatly placed under your nostrils the room smells like you have a chest cold instead of shit and piss.

You take the piece of plastic that is connected to the handle and you see that there is more shit.

This time on the walls, and there is nothing you can do but silently pray they will sanitise the room and he will stop so he can be someone else’s problem.

Down the hall sits a man hanging over a plastic grey trashcan while sitting on the edge of his bed.

His body is weak and he shakes like the green leaves on a Swedish spring day.

There is nothing left inside of his body, but he is afraid to lie down.

He sweats and he freezes.

He will never change his clothes.

He will never take a shower and he will never make it to the toilet.

The trip would feel like a journey to the other side of the universe.

ÖVN they call him.

Arrested from the streets of Stockholm and directly sent to Häktet Sollentuna.

All of those years of using the needle are getting their revenge as he sits in his cell.

Sure they give him medicine, but it is never strong enough.

Never strong enough to stop the pain.

Never strong enough to make him forget.

You wish you could go by his room and give him an extra blanket and tell him that he will feel better tomorrow.

I watch you as you wish you could do something for him, but you can’t. There is never enough time. There are only 11 hours of your shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and you have to be titanium.

I watch you. I watch you as you roam the halls like ghosts in the night.

Light footsteps up and down the corridors keys clanging on your belt like a sheriff on a television show about prisons from far away in another land.

You open take out plastic pill boxes.

Deal them out like a corner drug dealer to people who have a cold and tired look in their eyes.

The telephone rings.

The rakel shrikes in the night.

This one wonders where his medicine is, but you cannot find it until you see it on the wrong shelf, in the wrong place in the brown locked box.

That one wants toilet paper and Aveldon.

You walk down to the next floor.

The dreaded floor where they yell more than anywhere.

They do not care that they are there standing on their grey trashcans and talking through the ventilation and screaming at you.

“I am going to fuck your mother” they yell as you walk by the first ones’ room

“Go to hell you fucking plit!” screams another.

You know they would never dare to say so in the light of day if they met you face to face.

Down the corridor in the room farthest down sits a man who wants the noise to stop.

He is tired and wants the night to go by faster.

In the shadows of the night as he looks out the window of his cell he is reminded of the life he left behind.

The dinners with the family, the evenings out with his friends at his favourite club.

He puts wet toilet paper in his ears to make his own impromptu earplugs.

Anything to stop the noise because he knows as soon as you walk away it will be even worse.

You never see the men, but you know that they are out there.

There is always one on every floor.

You wish you could make all the noise stop so he could sleep.

I watch you as you wish you could do something for them, but you can’t. There is never enough time. There are only 11 hours of your shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and you have to be titanium.

I watch you. I watch you with your red badge on your uniform.

You walk the corridors, and you are the problem solver.

“This door does not work.” You get a telephone call from someone on the 7th floor.

Yes, that door that always messes up. You know it all too well.

“The tele room has an alarm again, can you go and check it?” rings BC at all hours of the day.

Tours of fire exits to new colleagues.

Now the sound goes off on your alarm and you hear the voice over the rakel.

“Överfalls larm plan 9 sport hall”

Now it is your time to shine.

Legs burst with energy as you run up the spiral stairs and push number 3 on your RAKEL.

You race to be number one.

The first on the scene.

Your voice is calm as you speak and you plan your attack.

Doors unlock and you enter and take control like you always do.

Inmates lined up against walls in lightning speed and it is all because of you.

You make decisions on the scene that people do not think twice about, but you always do.

You see the two that were there, and you see the fear that lies in their eyes.

You walk over with concern in your voice; “Are you both okay?”

They are not, but they will never say it or admit it.

There is way too much pride in this place.

What can you do? You have to take them for their word.

You wish you could spend more time with them and get them to tell you what is really wrong, but inskrivning has a new häktad and three that have come in from the lift.

I watch you as you wish you could do something for them, but you can’t. There is never enough time. There is only 8 hours of your shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and you have to be titanium.

I watch you. I watch you with your gold badge on your uniform. Telephone ringing non-stop.

Migrationsverket, police and other jails call you.

“Do you have a place for me?” and you almost always have to say yes.

You never get to turn down a person for a place at Häktet Sollentuna.

Fax machines.

Trips down the hall to the kansli.

Trips to the 5th floor with papers.

He moves to OBS, he gets moved to the top floor.

You make all the decisions all the time.

Same alarm. You stop what you are doing and run through three doors to get to bevakning central.

“Show me the cameras” you say while keeping your cool.

It is your colleagues you have to watch as they could be in trouble.

You always have that thought that the worst can happen, but you are never allowed to show it.

You speak on the rakel.

You follow all the rules and you listen.

You want to send one of the men who were fighting to OBS, but the he who started the fight is 16 years old and it will never happen so he has to move to another floor.

The other you want to move also, so it will be another floor for him for him too.

Sometimes life is unfair you think as you resign yourself and shrug your shoulders.

“avblossa larmet” you say with confidence in your voice.

You wish sometimes the phone would stop ringing, you could take off your belt and rakel and just sit in a chair.

You wish you could, but they just called on the telephone right after everything.

Frifoot has just come back from a transport.

I watch you as you wish you could do something for yourself, but you can’t. There is never enough time. There is only 6 hours of your shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and you have to be titanium.

I watch you, but you never see me.

I watch you, but you never see me as you come in the morning and put your lunchboxes and belts in the grey plastic trays and walk through the metal detector.

The empty looks in your eyes as you hold that telephone up to the glass window as I check a row of numbers to see that it matches.

I see that you long for a cup of coffee and to be at home asleep in your bed for just an hour more.

I watch you, but you never see me as you impatiently as you wait to go through a door but it is only a few seconds that go by.

I watch you, but you never see me as an alarm goes off and I have to calmly take over the situation.

Putting up the right cameras, looking on the map and watching without being able to do anything.

Just sitting there in a chair watching.

Waiting to see that you are ok without knowing if you are.

I watch you, but you never see me.

Up at the promenade doing the same thing over and over again with razor sharp precision.

Open the elevator.

Move the elevator.

Open a door and then open another door.

Over and over.

No break.

No trips to the bathroom and no time to take a deep breath and just relax for a minute.

I watch you, but you never see me.

Sifting through thousands of yellow and red dots that are alarms that you have created.

You open a door wrong.

You leave the door open too long talking to someone in the hallway.

That door is broken.

I watch you, but you do not see me when every time you stand alone by an elevator to receive an inmate alone.

The only thing I can think about is a woman named Karen who was murdered by an inmate because she was in the same situation.

I worry because I think about how that must have felt to see that in a camera and never had been able to do anything, but sit there silently and watch.

I wish I could make your job easier.

That you could be able to have all of the answers when you walk onto that floor every morning and be able to help the lost souls at Häktet Sollentuna instead of having to take care of the ones that have the louder voices that take all of your time away.

I wish I could stand time still so you could still get things done on your shift walk through that sluss, but never have to work a second over and never have to think about what you left behind.

I watch you and I wish I could do something for you, but I can’t. There is never enough time. There is only 11 hours of my shift at Häktet Sollentuna, and I have to be titanium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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