The newest boss in pri$neyland

Shaulis, Dahn



Dahn Shaulis 8250 North Grand Canyon Dr. #1024 Las Vegas, NV 89166 The Newest Boss in Pri$neyland After five years vested in the civil service, I now felt I could tell a boss the truth, as I saw it. The newest boss, Womack, emailed all caseworkers for their input in the Governor’s Report. As if it mattered. I emailed back, “Can I tell the governor that gangs run day-to-day prison life, that staffing is dangerously low, that we are treated as robots in a factory that knowingly perpetuates crime?” At shift’s end, I scribbled in the report form, that the one treatment program was garbage. I turned in the accounting, walked out the door, late for home, again. 7:15 A.M. I am usually the first one at work in my section, opening up the doors full of files. But this morning, Womack, the newest boss, is there before I am. He sits down at his chair, leans back, and says “close the door.” I wonder for a second whether he wants to talk to me about my last tirade. He straightens his tie, tells me to sit down. He says he wants to talk to me about exercise. But it wasn’t a conversation about exercise. In the few weeks the newest boss was here, he looked older. His hair looked whiter, the wrinkles under his eyes had become bags, his body was slumped. His gut appeared more bloated as he took his chair. As the conversation meandered, he said “I just want to see my kids go to college.” I learned he was only 54, less than a decade older than I was. He talked proudly about his kids. He talked about his house, his obligations, how much money he and his wife made. He talked about his adventurous life, as if he were giving his own eulogy. Dahn Shaulis 8250 North Grand Canyon Dr. #1024 Las Vegas, NV 89166 Womack wasn’t the only person whose flesh was being eaten in the machine. In the last two years, 15 of 18 classification workers had departed. In the five years of Mojave Prison’s history, only two of the original caseworkers remained. Some left for promotions. Two others had been “compromised” for being romantically involved with inmates. Others were forced out, transferring to other prisons or justice jobs after being “tired of the bullshit.” In only a few days after my return to Mojave, I understood the desire to escape. Womack was in an unenviable position. Like other prison workers, he was doing the work of two people, and paid for the lower position. His supervisor had shredded legal documents to cover up her incompetence, and her spot remained empty for six months. The boss’ boss left in handcuffs, escorted off the prison yard. Workers said she was an asshole, and gleefully, but surreptitiously, watched her fail. The next supervisor was a happy people person, who got some things accomplished, and moved on to another position after a few months. And now we had coach Womack. Womack himself worked at Mojave before, but took a cushy job at the nearby Desert Springs Correctional Center, where he could relax, “drink coffee,” and avoid the last incompetent Warden. I tried guessing why he took the shit job. Perhaps it was pride, or the need for a challenge, or for a position he felt he rightfully deserved years ago. Perhaps he’d been conned into the promotion by his old friend, the new Warden, the same Warden who convinced me to return to Mojave. Dahn Shaulis 8250 North Grand Canyon Dr. #1024 Las Vegas, NV 89166 Womack smiled and said “The Warden and I, we go way back.” I didn’t want to know what he meant by that, knowing how brutal prisons were years ago. Womack said "worst case scenario, I could go back to my old job, sit back, drink coffee and say to fuck with the four thousand dollar raise." But I couldn't envision him quitting easily. Womack talked about teamwork; how we had to stop being selfish and act like a team. In a pathetic way, it felt good to know I wasn’t the only one being eaten by the machine.

Author: Shaulis, Dahn

Author Location: Nevada

Date: April 28, 2017

Genre: Essay

Extent: 3 pages

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