Both times I’ve ended up at prison have been a total surprise.
The first time was for a job interview. The job posting did not mention anything about prison. Nothing. (I could write a book, by the way, about my experiences with misleading job postings.) I was new to town and simply entered the address into my GPS and then there I was, watching my resume and reference list go through the metal detectors. That turned out to be a weird interview. Not because it was at prison, but because the interviewer watched over my shoulder as she had me fill out the same application I had already submitted online, didn’t ask me any questions, announced “I’m done for the day!” the second the clock struck four, and then cut me off running to the parking lot in her six-inch stilettos where she leapt into her car, threw my application on her dashboard, and sped out of there faster than you can say, “I look forward to hearing from you soon.” Also, she had parked in the nearest handicapped spot.
The second time I went to prison was last week. I was preparing for one of my nursing home applicant assessments, which I would be conducting as soon as I got off my regular job. I do these all over town. If the address listed isn’t the local hospital, then I assume it’s at a nursing home and just enter it into my GPS and go. I always call first to let the facility know I’m coming and they either don’t answer or don’t care. But this day was different.
Me: “Hi, I’m just calling to let you know that I’m coming at 5:00 to interview Mr. McConfidentialsons for his PASRR evaluation.”
Guy: “I don’t know if that will work out. You can only come at 5:00 if we’ve finished your full background investigation by then. We better get started. I need your name, birthday, and social security number.”
Me: “Uhhh okay.” (Gave info.)
Guy: “You are not permitted to bring anything except a piece of paper and a pencil. Someone will have to escort you through security, and you will conduct the evaluation in an observation room. You cannot bring a purse. Only clear bags are allowed. There will be an extensive paperwork process before you are allowed in.”
What I thought: What the fuuuuuuuck kind of nursing home is this?
What I said: “Uhhh okay.”
Guy: What are you wearing? Your legs and arms must be fully covered. Nothing form-fitting or you won’t be allowed in. I really hope you’re not wearing shorts.
What I thought: Why the hell would I be wearing shorts? I’m a mental health professional, not a background dancer for Robin Thicke. Also, everything I own is form-fitting. I may be a professional, but I’m not dead. What the fuck kind of nursing home is this?
What I said: “I’m wearing a skirt but it goes down to my ankles… is that okay?”
(This was kind of a big fashion day for me. It was my very first day wearing a Maxi skirt after months of anticipation.)
He said it was probably okay. We got off the phone so that he could background check me and so I could background check this crazy nursing home. That’s when I Googled the address and realized I was going to prison.
I looked down at my skirt. It was kind of form-fitting and sexy, if I was just being honest. Shit. Just my luck: I had finally worked up the courage to wear a Maxi skirt and now it was going to get me kicked out of a mens’ prison. Don’t you hate when that happens?
But by the time I got to prison, the guy I had talked to was gone for the day and the other prison guards waved me through like it was no big thing. I didn’t have to spread my butt cheeks or anything. I could have been the Unabomber. (Which just gave me this thought: Shouldn’t prison visitors be required to wear form-fitting clothing so that guards can be sure they aren’t hiding bombs or razor blades or heroin?)
Anyway, I don’t know how to wrap this up. It’s just that you would think that a trip to prison would be something one would plan in advance, whereas in my life it’s more like I go to bed one night a year thinking, “Well, if you had told me when I woke up this morning that I’d be going to prison today I wouldn’t have believed ya…”
Also, I accidentally stole the prison’s visitor pass. Am I going to jail?