My Life as a Jailbrarian: Prologue

After talking recently about my time as a jail librarian I have decided to do an occasional post with some stories about my life in jail. This prologue is not a jail story. It is the story of how I ended up in jail in the first place.

I was living in Cincinnati, working at a market research firm and had just finished going to school at night to complete my MLS(Master of Library Science) degree when we got the official word that my wife would be transferred to Washington DC.   We knew it was coming. I didn’t think it would happen that fast.  As the move got closer, I started applying for jobs in the DC area. I had one really good phone interview while still in Cincy that, unfortunately, did not result in a job. A few days before the scheduled move I got a call to schedule an interview with DC Public Library so I headed east a few days ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, this meant being extremely tired and possibly ill from eating bad road food when I arrived at the interview. My boss at my old job said that the DC people broke the rules and asked her about my health. I looked that bad. Needless to say, I did not get that job.

Once we were officially residents of the DC area I started sending resumes to every local library I could find. I hit the road and personally visited the HR departments of both public and academic libraries.  One public library system actually sent my resume back to me stamped rejected and accompanied by a letter saying they do not accept unsolicited resumes. This system will appear again in later posts. That was fun. I rode the Metro around DC to the colleges there. I was on my way to Howard University one day. I got off the Metro and asked a woman who was headed to work at the hospital for directions. Along with the directions, she also gave me advice for walking through the neighborhood: walk quickly, don’t make eye contact and run if you hear gunshots. I never made it to Howard. As soon as we parted company I went right back to the Metro station and went back home.

I eventually signed on with a temp agency that works with librarians. I worked for a week at a fancy law firm near the White House. I enjoyed eating my lunch in the park with a view of the White House. I worked for a week at the World Bank. I have no memory of anything I did there. I remember being bored. I was also still applying for every job opening I saw. I eventually was called in for an interview with the state of Maryland. It was at the Department of Education working with Correctional Education as a technical librarian. I was offered the job. It was only a contract position, but it was better than temping, so I accepted. The same week I received a call from the temp agency. They had a job for me that could turn in to a permanent position.  I turned it down because I felt a guaranteed position was better than a possible permanent position. I have no idea where the other job was. I made the decision to go with the job with the state without details on the possible other job. This decision led to my 20 year jail sentence. Sometimes I regret making that decision.

Next installment:  A Visit to the Big House

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Reentry Is Hard

This weekend was the first weekend in a while where I was actually able to relax.  To make it even better, it was a four day weekend. I didn’t do anything exciting. On my birthday leave day on Friday I went out and got some free food from Panera and Dickey’s and watched a movie on DVD. Saturday was so uneventful all I remember is that I took the dog for a walk and watched a basketball game. Sunday I went to church and out to eat with the family for a late birthday celebration. Yesterday I spent hour scanning pictures from 2001. Even so, the four days off makes it really hard to think about heading out in a few minutes to reenter the real world.

I don’t hate my job. I don’t hate working. I’ve just reached the point in my life when I am ready to move on from the career and to the retirement phase of life. I would even take the ability to work from home. Actually, I think I’ve always been at this point. I would have gladly been a stay at home dad if it had been feasible for our family. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never been a career focused person. I do my job to the best of my ability and I do apply for new jobs/promotions when they come up, but I’ve always been someone who would quit to stay at home if given the opportunity. I think this got more pronounced toward the end of my time at the jail. Corrections has a 20 year retirement, so I spent the last few years of my time at the jail watching people I worked with retire knowing that I still had 10-15 years left. I’m closer now, but not close enough.

So, I head back to work today but I would much rather be one of the people who have the ability to spend their morning with friends at Panera instead of heading off to another day at the job. Reentry is hard.

Moving on

It has been a fall of the improbable. The Cubs won the World Series. Donald Trump won the presidential election. I interviewed for a job and was actually offered the job. You read that correctly. 21 years at my place of work, 14(or so, never can remember the exact date) at my current location and now I am moving on to a new position. It is still with the same organization so it is not a drastic change, but it is my first official move to a new job description and it is a move to a new branch with new people and it is leaving people I have known for a long time.

I remember the day I was told they were moving me to my current branch. At that time I was working 4 days a week in the county jail and one evening a week at a public branch. My branch had been closed for renovation and was just about to reopen. I arrived at work one day and people started asking me about my move. I went to the branch manager’s office to find out what was going on and was told I was being moved to a new branch for my one day out of jail to be a back up in charge person. I was not happy.  I wasn’t given a choice, it was a longer drive and, to be honest, I was worried I wouldn’t like it there. It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was the best thing that could have happened to me and I went to my new manager and asked if there was any way we could make the move permanent. Over the years I slowly transitioned from jail 4 days a week to jail 2 days a week to jail 0 days a week and this branch being my full time work home. If not for the feeling that is was time to move on career-wise, I would have been perfectly happy to stay there until retirement. The good news is that I am not moving far away. I will still work for the same organization. I will have meetings next door to my old branch so I can visit my friends. I will still see some of those friends on a regular basis outside of work. It will be sad, for me at least not to see them every day, but I’m not losing them as friends. I just hope the kids at the new place like me.I would hate to be  the sad boy who sits alone at the lunch table.

Part of me feels like I should be sappy and tell those friends how much I appreciate them and will miss them. Part of me feels like it would be dumb because, as mentioned above, I will still see them regularly. I hope that even if I don’t send them a note(because no way I would do it face to face) they know how important they have been to me.

 

My First Seven Jobs

So, this whole first seven jobs thing has been floating around and I’ve considered doing it, but never got around to it. I was just going to post a list, but a friend just posted hers on Facebook with narrative, so I decided to that as well here. So, here they are:

  1.  Ohio County Board of Education – I’m not sure what the actual job title was. It was part of the summer youth jobs program. I was placed here two summers in a row. We took delivery of textbooks, stamped them with their number for tracking, counted out the proper number for each school and then delivered them to the schools. Not a bad summer job. All I remember from this job is remembering that I was still weird and awkward around adults.
  2. Commons Grill at UK – Not sure if that was the real name of the place. It was on campus near or in the Blanding/Kirwin complex.  I was the guy who retrieved the food when it was ready. I didn’t cook anything or work the register. I occasionally scooped ice cream as well. I had issues with management because they didn’t think school obligations were more important than work. I was in a theater class at the time and had to attend plays as part of the class. They would schedule me during those times, my coworkers wouldn’t trade shifts, so I didn’t show up. Not the best way to be as an employee, but I cared about school more than the job. I would post my written reprimands on my wall in the dorm. Needless to say, I did not return the following semester.
  3. Houseboy at a Sorority – I can’t remember the name of the sorority. I served dinner and washed dishes after. I only have vague memories of this job and can’t say if I was a better employee there than I was at the grill.  I do remember one night when I was the only one there and the person in charge was annoyed that I couldn’t do the work as fast alone as I could with help. I remember some of the girls from the house coming back to help me with dishes when they realized I was alone.
  4. Resident Janitor and the Baptist Student Center – I cleaned the building in exchange for a basement apartment. I enjoyed living where I already spent a lot of time, I enjoyed my friends always being around but I did not enjoy being a janitor. I also don’t think I was very good at it. I left after one school year.
  5. Circulation Department, King Library, UK –  While working at the above job, I decided I also needed a job that paid actual money, so I applied for more campus jobs. I was afraid that I would not be hired because of my time at the grill, but it didn’t take long for the library to call me for an interview. The department that called was the periodicals department. I went up to periodicals and they asked me to go get my application and come back. Turns out the circulation department had also pulled my application, so I went there to pick it up. When I went in to get it, they told me that I really didn’t want to work in periodicals because I would be happier working for them. We talked, they gave me the schedule I wanted and hired me on the spot. I then had to to go tell the periodicals person that I would not be interviewing because I got another job while looking for my application for the interview there. This was the first job I had where I felt like I was actually good at what I was doing. I liked most of the other student workers, I liked the non-student staff and I enjoyed the work. They liked me as well and eventually I was the in-charge student on Sunday nights. They liked me so much that when they couldn’t give me full time hours in the summer due to budget cuts, they found me jobs in other departments to supplement my hours so I wouldn’t quit. So, I count my time in the campus mailroom and the distant learning department as part of this job. The only reason I left was because my wife graduated and got a real job in Cincinnati. It’s possible I would have stayed there forever had we stayed in Lexington.
  6. Page at Boone County Library – During my time at the above job, I realized I was not a good teacher and changed my major to communications with the goal of going to grad school to get an MLS. While doing that, I needed a job in the Cincy area. Boone County was the first to hire me. I didn’t get a lot of hours and didn’t make a lot of money, but I did get my first experience working in a public library. They later took me on as an intern in the reference department.
  7. Single Issue Sales/Cincinnati Post – I needed more money than I was making at the library, so I left and delivered newspapers for the Post. I delivered a morning and afternoon edition to street racks and stores in downtown Cincinnati. I actually really enjoyed this job and was in great shape due to my decision to park and walk the streets with my papers instead of driving rack to rack. I was actually pretty good at this as well and made decent money. I also had to work holidays and weekends and eventually looked for a regular 9-5 job. And then I got fat.