Wednesday, December 15, 2004

She's (working for) the Sheriff! 

The year noneofyourbusiness I graduated from college there was a terrible recession. I know you will find this hard to believe, but even though I had a very hot ticket B.A. in History from an anachronistic all girls finishing school, I was not courted heavily by any Fortune 500 companies. Instead of trying to find adult work, I decided to give myself one last summer as a counselor at a summer camp that I had attended since I was seven. That year I was in charge of a stable of 30 horses and when I wasn’t teaching riding or assigned to cabin duty I had carte blanche with the horses. I spent a lot of my free time racing through the woods and swimming with them in a beautiful private lake, which you do by clinging to their mane as they paddle through the water. I count this as one of my top five experiences of my life. When the summer ended I felt like I had been cast out of heaven into an indifferently cruel world and I had no idea what to do with my life. So I decided to (wince) follow a man and move to Virginia to be near my boyfriend, who still had a couple of years to go in an anachronistic men’s finishing school there.

I had to find work immediately, and out of desperation did so at Carroll Reed, a defunct women's 'sophisticated country casual' clothing store, where my boyfriend’s mother shopped for the lion’s share of her wardrobe. Working retail is just the pits, especially at a strip mall. I've never worked a worse job - the minimum wage salary, the fussy, humorless female supervisors who believe in the company's mission like it's holy writ, the incessant sweater folding and hanging up of clothes, the standing on your feet all day, the boring product. Because it was the South, the customers at least had manners and were pleasant to deal with, but I was still utterly miserable.

One day before an evening shift I watched Miller’s Crossing, and found myself sobbing during the scene when Gabriel Byrne takes John Turturro out to the woods to shoot him. Turturro is begging for his life, pleading and sobbing on his knees for Byrne not to kill him like some kind of animal there in the woods. And I was sobbing right along with him, not because of the intensity of the scene or because I felt the least bit sorry for that weasel Turturro, whom Byrne should have shot through the temple without hesitation, but because the woods were so beautiful and I would have given anything to be there in the woods rather than have to leave to go to work in a mall in a chain store under hideous fluorescent lighting.

Before I became too despondent, my boyfriend’s father, the former attorney of a rural county, helped me acquire my first real office job as a clerk for the Sheriff’s Office. Thanks to a little country cronyism, I was to be a foot soldier, or more aptly a file clerk, in this country’s glorious War on Drugs. The job was funded by a federal grant and my responsibility was to manage a primitive software program called Drug Trak. I was to enter data and old case file information about drug dealers and suspects into the database. Aside from marijuana growing and some small time crack dealing (this was before meth really hit it big), drug trafficking was practically non existent and my position was completely unnecessary. I adored my sinecure, though, especially the narcotics officers, who were good old boys in the best sense: courteous rednecks. They primarily worked nights or out in the field and I rarely saw them except when they passed through the office to throw work at me. I would type up a report for them or to do their monthly statistics or for them while they good naturedly sexually harassed me. I thought they were great and loved teasing them about their latest unconvincing biker mustaches and goatees that they would grow and shave to disguise themselves. Since the country wasn’t a hot bed of drug activity, I was left with a lot of time on my hands, unsupervised and alone in the little narcotics room, which was basically a small office with a computer and a bunch of file cabinets. I used the ample downtime to teach myself WordPerfect and read books of monstrous length like Shogun and the complete works of Ayn Rand, which I found HI-larious. I guess I had missed the small window of the personal development stage (around 14-16 years of age, I believe, the acme of teenage asshole selfishness) when you can actually take her philosophy seriously.

Then the county hired a free lance confidential informant. Most confidential informants are criminals themselves - we're talking real scum of the earth. They move into a community, befriend other dirtbags, get them to sell them drugs while they wear a wire, testify in court against them, collect their money and then head on to the next town. I thought it was a sleazy practice, practically entrapment, but it’s a common tool in our illustrious War on Drugs. So, our confidential informant would wear a wire and go cruising for drugs with addicts. These were no kingpins - they were mostly addicts themselves who wanted to procure drugs for the CI so they could earn a little bit for themselves. The CI and his target would sometimes drive around for hours searching for drugs, and my main job became transcribing these conversations, some of them lasting for hours. I had to type every single tedious word or else the tapes would be inadmissible in court. I became an expert typist and Word Perfect savant. The quality of the conversation of drug addicts was not what you would call elevated or even all that interesting. Often the participants were high on crack and jabbered away at light speed on these nonsensical jags. The word m*therf*cker was used so frequently in their discussion that I taught myself how to make a macro for the word. Most discussions were boring and monotonous, although sometimes they were hilarious. Other times they were horrifying and pitiful. More often they were just plain filthy. Some of these people would spill out their life stories to make conversation, and talk about their kids and family, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for their doomed, soon to be mandatorily sentenced asses.
One memorable quote:

“Do you mind if I have a little piece of that rock? I promised my babysitter I would bring her some back.”

While I was reading The Canon and amusing myself rummaging through old case files up in the Narcotics room, the criminal investigators, who were dealing with real crime like rape, homicide, and bad check writing, were drowning in paperwork and desperately in need of some clerical help. That’s when my boss lent my services to them and the real fun began.

aw, c'mon. you can't bring up such hilarious topics as rape and homicide and just leave us hanging.

was 'she's the sheriff!' a spin-off of 'three's company'? (ut-oh chrissy has a gun now!), or was it a hysterical entity unto itself? these are the questions that keep me up at night...
Foxy, for this entry, I here by award you...

***Blog Entry of the Month***
"When the summer ended I felt like I had been cast out of heaven into an indifferently cruel world and I had no idea what to do with my life."

I think this was my last year and I too felt exactly the same. That was probably the best summer of my life and the worst.
C - Im enjoying reading all of your blog - its taking me days to get through it all - well done.

Yours, Mot
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