To the Penitentiary: A Refuge and New Beginning

A few words of gratitude, to the Penitentiary, my workplace for the last 5 years.

When I needed a great job, and a new start, you were there for me.  I had a drug addict for a husband, and needed to find a way to get away from him.  You were there for me.  You hired me, without corrections experience, and trained me well.  You were there.

I came here alone, without anyone to help me move into my little slice of life.  I unpacked my own uhaul, with a small bit of help from the guy mowing the lawn.  I knew I had a brand new start and that you were the way.  I slept on the couch that I paid $17 for, throughout training, but it was worth it.  I had a brand new start.

My family came to the badge ceremony, and my Grandfather, a retired police reserveman saw my badge pinned on my shoulder.  What a special moment. Thank you for that Penitentiary.

I worked throughout my first year and a half as an intermittent, throughout layoffs, and a hiring freeze, you did not fail me.  You were still a refuge for me, and the way to my future. Eventually I got a non-permanent spot, and felt so good about myself, finally, I was making it.

Then, a new man, my soon to be husband came in to my life.  I met another officer at the Penitentiary, and he was just what I needed.  Not long after that, you failed me for the first time Penitentiary.

I had been working a lot of overtime, and became exhausted.  I had a seizure, and the brave officers and nurses came to my rescue.  But you, Penitentiary failed after that.  You left me out to dry, told me that you didn’t want me anymore, demoted me to intermittent and refused to call me.  Luckily for you, I am stronger than your 125 year old walls.  I was persistent until I got my job back.  I wouldn’t accept failure from you.  When you were failing me, my sweetheart stepped in, and was the new one that was there for me.  He never skipped a beat, and hasn’t left my side.  He is even stronger than you and I.

Your failure, helped me see who would be there, and how much he cared.  So for that, I am still grateful to you, Penitentiary.  You gave me a husband, in a way.

My husband and I got married in October of 2013, and had our son in September of 2015.  Our lives finally had meaning, which is something that I had put on your shoulders Penitentiary.  I found identity and fullfillment in being an officer for you.  I had a great job that I could see myself in for a long time, and made decent money and had great benefits.  Thank you for that.  But none of it matters as much as our little guy now.  He’s everything to us.  And in a way, you gave him to us.  We wouldn’t have met without you.

And now, I must take my gratitude and store it away.  I record it here, so that I don’t ever forget to be thankful.  You started out as a refuge from abuse and neglect, something that many don’t know about.  You were a sense of purpose and commitment to my community, to safety and security.  You taught me those things.  You taught me how to draw strength from within myself.  You helped me find my loving husband, and I became a mother while I was here.  I am an officer, a wife, and a mother.  Without you, Penitentiary, I may not be any of those things.

We are leaving to go work at another prison soon.  To take our little man to live near his family. To go where we belong.  We won’t forget about you, Penitentiary.  You’ll always be our foundation and home base.  Our friendships within your walls will never be forgotten, and hopefully we’ll all stay in touch.  It’s silly to say out loud, but we love you Penitentiary.  Thank you for all the roles you’ve played in my life.

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