It was another one of those mornings, the kind where it feels like I’ve walked into something. I chalked this one up to a fight. Although there had been one, that wasn’t it.
“Yeah, I just heard about it from Lisa,” I heard someone say somberly.
“What did you hear,” I asked.
“T. C. was murdered last night. He answered his front door and someone shot him,” came the reply. I must have looked dull as I absorbed the shock because my co-worker continued, “You know who I am talking about?”
Who didn’t know? His picture hung over my shoulder beside the governor. The Director of DOC had been shot–on his doorstep! Could my past twelve months be laced with more drama and intrigue than this?
I met him once during an employee appreciation event. My experience was like that of everyone: he was warm and personable. People who knew him better described him as all this, educated, and productive. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters.
No one knew a thing. Surprisingly, we proceeded as normal. Toward the end of the day, Master Control announced that 7th hour was cancelled. You could hear the whoops for joy down the hallway as my shoulders tensed. This couldn’t be good.
The entire state prison system locked down at 3:00 PM on Friday and wouldn’t be released until Monday. Our facility never, I mean never, fully locks down for more than four or six hours in a stretch. Due to the nature of the circumstances we could not modify the orders to suit our facility or population; we would just have to deal with it.
The teachers moved slowly to shut down the school and trudged over to the pods. Already the offenders were toeing the lines. At the community meeting where they were told how the weekend would look and that they were allowed a shower on Sunday (we only have to provide three showers each week) a few shouted out obscenities. Like we had any control over the situation. To be kind, the administration rounded up extra TV’s, radios, board games, game stations, and a larger selection of library books to circulate through the rooms.
When 4:00 PM rolled around I stole over to the phone and quietly made a call home. “I might be late,” I said. “I don’t know the details of our lock down, but I’ll take my uniform shirt off when I leave to be safe. One of the officers was told to take that precaution.” The concern on the other end of the line echoed the concern I had so far stifled. Thirty minutes later I left the intrigue, rumors, and stench behind to gather up my daughter and join the family for a movie night.
One thing this job has done for me is help me appreciate and treasure the time I have with my family. You just never know.