I did my first two hour Salvation Army bell ringing shift of the year on Saturday. My Kiwanis club does it at the Kroger store here in town. We do two hour shifts because we are geezers and can't handle eight hours. I reported for duty at 11 A.M., only to learn that my scheduled time was 1 P.M. to 3 P.M. Fortunately, this misstep did not set the tone for the shift. Of course, the kids are always adorable, begging their parents for money to put in the bucket. ( Right on, kids! Keep it up! ) We always give them a candy cane or Hershey's kiss. Then a young couple came out of the store with party type groceries. The guy had a twelve pack of Rolling Rock beer. He put it down on the chair provided for us to rest when necessary. I said, "Oh, you brought me some beer! Thank you!" Beer always makes a shift go so fast!
Then a man came in wearing Michigan Department of Corrections jacket and knit hat. I recognized him from Huron Valley Correctional Facility so I said hello, asked how things were going. I told him things were great for me, because I am retired now. CO Dolan said he could go any time, figured he would put in another year, which would make a 31 year career. He said he was discouraged because he feels society devalues what he does for a living, even though he is proud of his career and the work he does. I agreed with him. People have no idea what his job is like. We chatted for awhile longer, lamenting the current state of affairs at the Department. Then a guy came out of the store and said to him, "Oh, you work as a guard. You're a babysitter." Ironic, in view of what CO Dolan and I had just been talking about. His comments irritated me, so I said, "Yeah, for big babies, big MEAN babies". CO Dolan was angry. He told the guy, "I take some offense at that. I go to work every day. Been called every name in the book. I've had food and shit thrown at me. Prisoners have urinated on me. I work out three times a week so I can deal with these guys and not get hurt." It turned out the guy had a kid in prison who fed him a line of garbage about what officers do. Meanwhile my bell ringing shift ended. I interrupted and asked the guy if he had ever been threatened with having a nickname tattooed on his asshole. He said no. I told him, "Well, I have been." Then I said good-bye to CO Dolan and went into the store.