“I can see better/
looking through the rearview mirror/
than I ever could see/
looking out over the hood.”
I gave my two weeks’ notice on Monday September 9th after 10 years of service with the St. Charles County jail.
When I told my Captain I was leaving, he said, “Well, I’m going to miss you. You’re one of the good ones. It’s like when we lost, ‘What’s his name?’ He went to St. Charles City. Remember him?”
“Whitman?” I said.
“No, not him,” he said.
“Henry?” I said.
“Noooo, not him either. He had a mustache. Was a park ranger…”
I thought for a minute and said, “Meynard?”
“Yeah! That’s it. Meynard.”
That is a perfect example of what will happen to the memory of me after I leave. Everyone liked all three of the Officers that I named. Then after they are gone for a few months, it often takes several minutes to even recall their names, if you can recall them at all.
I was talking to another veteran officer and he said, “Man, we’re like family up here at the jail. We see each other more than we do our own families most of the times. I think I could ask for help from most of the people here, and if I really needed it, they would help me. You ain’t going to get that where you’re going, at least not right away.”
I said, “Ok, but ask yourself this, how many people do you stay in contact with after they leave? Besides seeing them on Facebook, how many of them do you actually see in person?”
This officer has been working at the jail for 17 years. He has seen hundreds of officers come and go throughout the years. He thought about my question for a minute and then said, “Wow. I can honestly say none.”
I feel like I’m ending my second “mini-career.”
My first mini-career was working in restaurants and kitchens for 10 years; and believe me, I don’t miss it. My wife loves to watch cooking shows on T.V. and I hate it. Why? Because I lived it for 10 years.
The T.V shows don’t show the early mornings. They don’t show the burns up and down your arms. They don’t show you feeling like you’re living the same day over and over wondering why you’re doing this, until that one day that you decide, I’m not doing this anymore.
My second mini-career has been working in the criminal justice field. I started off thinking that I was going to go to law school. I worked for an attorney for two years, and then I got my B.S. in Criminal Justice from one of the top three criminology schools in the United States.
From there, I worked with juveniles for a year. I then worked for the 22nd Circuit Court at the St. Louis City holdover for two years interviewing people about their crimes and getting their background information.
From there, I went to work for the St. Charles County jail as a Corrections Officer for 6 years, and then was their Training Officer/Director for the last four years. Add it all up and that’s 15 years in this crazy field.
I don’t think I’m going to miss working in jails. I won’t miss the smell of urine that smacks you in the face when you walk through the door in the summer time, or fighting people covered in feces, or having people call you every name in the book on a weekly (or sometimes daily) basis.
What I will miss are the people, the stories and getting out of speeding tickets.
The positive side to this is, I don’t feel like I’m starting a whole new career. I’m going into healthcare training, which is obviously a different field. But I’ve been the Training Officer/Coordinator/Director for the jail for the last four years and I feel like I’m getting a four year head start in this new career. Hopefully this will be the one I retire from.
But if history repeats itself, I should be starting my next mini-career at 50-55 and that’s probably not the best time to start something new. Guess I’ll have to wait ten to fifteen years to find out.