Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Adventures with Bus Man

Ready for a Parolee story that still makes me shudder when I think about it?

Back when Gawd made dirt and I was a Parole officer, District Parole offices were assigned territory based on the number of Parolees in a given area. For instance, Dallas County was both a Regional office and had three District offices. My District office was in the North Texas area and covered three counties. I was luckier than some of the other P.O.s in my office. During my tenure I never had to supervise parolees living outside my home county. And I usually racked up about 1K miles/month making home visits.

During the early years, when I was still supervising garden variety felons, my territory was the Northern and Western areas of the County. Now, when I took this job, my Daddy, a 27 year USPS employee, told me that if I ever need directions to a parolee's house to stop at the Post Office and ask them for directions. I have since learned that the police station or a fire station are also pretty good places for directions.
And don't give me any of that bushwa {thanks, LawDog, knowing you is sooo good for my vocabulary} about using MapQuest or a Mapsco. You show me a woman who would rather use a computer or a book than talk to a Cop or Firefighter, and I'll show you a woman who needs to have her hormone levels checked! Besides, back when the earth's crust was cooling and I was doing Home Visits, there WAS no MapQuest. Heck, we didn't even have a computer in the office.

So, BusMan gets out of Prison and reports to me. I had done his pre-release investigation, checked with his friends, "Yeah, we got a place for him to stay 'til he gets on his feet."
BusMan had gone to prison, this time, for Theft. His story, and he was By Chris stickin' to it, was that he thought the stuff he took outta those folks yard was "junk". That's how he supported hisself, y'see, he was a "Junkman". He didn't KNOW that items in a person's yard had to be w/in 5' of the curb or street to be considered "trash". And he had taken the plea offered by the DA so he didn't have to wait 2 years for a trial, even tho he wasn't really guilty.

It's amazing, when I look back, how many innocent parolees I supervised. In any given month I had probably 100 parolees on my caseload. I can only remember about 10, 8 men and 2 women who took responsibility for their crimes. Someday, I'll write about the one guy I see from time to time who still thanks me for the difference I made in his life.

But back to BusMan.
BusMan lived so far in the Western part of my county that I had to leave my county and then reenter it, b/c of the way the roads were laid out, to get to his "domicile". When his friends said they had a place for him to stay, I was naive enough to assume this meant a room or at least a bed or couch in their house. You know that old saying "when you assume you make an ass out of u and me"?

I followed BusMan's directions about taking US 123 to FM 456 to Rutted Road and turn left, then take a sharp right at the black mail box. Then when you get to the green house on the right, take the left fork and go about 1/4 of a mile down another bumpy road, but they are gonna get it graded pretty soon, or maybe after the Spring. And then when you top the hill... I swan, y'all would NOT believe me if I was to swear on the heads of my muchly loved offspring, just how many times I have had to follow directions like this... then when you see the gray house on the left and the kinda blue house right across the yard, just stop and beep your car horn twice,"Then I'll come out and get the dogs, so you won't get mud on you."

When I finally pull up to this, this, this, what my then culture shocked self can only describe as "Deliverance Movie Set" compound, I have made several observations and mental reminders. The first observation is that I can barely see, through the trees at the northern and eastern edges of this compound, maybe 250 yards away a housing development where the cheapest homes sell for $250K+. That was mind blowing. The second observation was the motorcycle gang clubhouse I had passed. I ain't talkin' middle-aged crazy motorcycle "Club" that some of these upscale homeowners might have formed. No, chirren. I'm talkin' the Color-wearing-drug-dealin'- scare-the-bejabbers-out-of-decent-citizens motorcycle gang type clubhouse. The kind built out of cinderblock, iron bars on the windows, steeldoored, Rotties, Dobies, and Pitts chained outside type clubhouse.
The mental reminders to self? I would discretely break a couple of Parole Board Rules on my next visit in the interest of practicality and self-preservation. I'd be stoppin' by my house and changin' into jeans and tennies. And I'd be...nevermind, not sure if the statute of limitations has run out yet on the other rule I broke.

So I beep my horn twice. Does BusMan come out of the gray house I'm lookin' at? Does he come out of the kinda blue house I'm lookin at? No, the doors open on an old, yellow school bus parked amid several rusting and rusted out cars on blocks, and out jumps Bus Man. He corrals the dogs, about five, that have come runnin' and barkin' as I was makin' my way up the rutted, bumpy, driveway[?]. I was never so thankful, that I drove a Jeep, as I was that afternoon. Until the day I went out there when it was raining. Some of those ruts turned into small lakes!
Once the dogs have been chased back a suitable distance, he invites me into his home. I step up into the bus and take a look around. He or somebody has taken most of the seats out. The remaining seats have been turned to face the center of the bus, sort of like benches.
He has those heavy duty extension cords running back to the grey house. They power his hot plate and tiny space heater. He has a Coleman lantern for light, and a cot to sleep on. I ask about a toilet. He points to the bus' back door, and says he has a "portajohn" out there. I nod my head and tell him it kinda reminds me of the deer camp my GrandDad had one year. That brings a big grin to his face.
I tell him I'll see him next Friday, and remind him to bring all the paperwork he needs to bring.

And I get the hell outta there. Go home and don't even touch my kids 'til I take a long hot shower and throw all my clothes in the washer and put on all clean stuff. Then I hug them tight and we have a long talk about their day and I slowly return to normal.

I have another couple of stories about BusMan, but you'll have to wait until I'm ready to write about the sex offenders. He eventually wound up on my S.O. caseload.


Anonymous said...

I'll be damned! Another PO blogging about offenders.

Looks like you and I have covered the same trails. Keep writing. It helps exorcize the demons.

HollyB said...

I just started writing about the criminals. Can't bring myself to write about the sex offenders, yet. And it's been 15 years since I had to deal with those slugs.
Can you tell I'm still a little bitter?

G Bro said...

Hose me down with antiseptic and get me back to "civilization"! Can't ever imagine why you quit working there, Holly!