Monday, June 30, 2008

"You know, things are as bad as they could possibly get. . . . . . I stand corrected!"

You parents out there? Yes, you. Let's say your kids are pre-teens or maybe even teens. And say those kids start to act out and become a little unruly. And say you'd like a scare tactic or two to straighten them out rightquick. Well, I've got one for you.

Here's what you do:

Wake up early in the morning, get ready and leave the house. Take your kid with you. Drive East on the U.S. 60 to the U.S. 79. Drive South toward Florence. Turn left on Jason Lopez Circle and drive up to the Pinal County Superior Court building. Walk in. Go through security, placing everything except your clothing and water bottle on the x-ray scanner conveyor belt. Say "thank you" to the friendly security people.

Give a passing glance at the dry-erase board in front of the elevators and find a courtroom. Take the elevators up to the courtroom and find out you can't bring your water bottle in after all. Leave it outside and hope no one spits in it just because it's sitting there. Wait for 20 minutes after court was supposed to start, looking around in the interim to try and figure out the "Who's Who" of the courtroom. Rise when the bailiff barks out "All Rise!" and sit down when the judge says "be seated".

Watch as the defendants in custody are escorted in by armed officers, shackles on their wrists and ankles, chains clanking between their bound hands and feet, clad in eye searing orange, with the occasional red, white or blue breaking up the orange-iness of the group. Try really really hard not to think about what it is they've done. Try even harder not to believe them all inherently and immediately guilty. And keep trying as your stomach turns flip flops, suddenly feeling a little sick. Got it?

'K. This is the part where you point out to your child how miserable most of them look (you know, except for the cocky looking ones) and how that would NOT be a fun state of affairs to find oneself in. This works particularly well for your boys since, oh. . . around 99% of the inmates are male.

Wait. And wait. And wait some more while inmate after inmate is called and processed. After which they bring in like 15 more inmates who will be processed before out of custody defendants are called to the stand.

Then, after all that fun, walk over to the Sheriff's Office across the street. On the walk, talk about what you've just seen. Really impress on them how awful it was, and warn that it's about to get worse. Listen as the nice lady at the front counter directs you to the county jail, the visitor lobby of which is relatively empty when you arrive. Have a seat in the lobby and begin to wait. You'll begin to see the other side of the lives of the inmates: their families. Their mothers and grandmothers. You begin to see lots and lots of unwed teenage pregnant girls, since all but 2 of the mothers in that lobby are nowhere near 20 years old. You'll also see unwed teenage mothers: girls with high school football shirts pulled over their pregnant bellies, or babies on their hips grasping at their shirts that say "in between boyfriends" (no lie). And watch as those babies pee all over the floor and poop their pants and walk around so the poop falls out of the bottom and sits right out there on the floor. This is about the part where each of your eyes glazes over and you stop seeing because it's just too much.

It takes a little over an hour, but once you reach this point, you can leave. Take Jason Lopez Circle back out to the 79, head North to the 60, and haul butt back to your safe, comfortable home.

And pray PRAY you can always keep your family away from places like this. Pray that they will never know such places. And pray that if someone in your family finds themself in a situation like this, they will NOT perpetuate it through generations of posterity so that it becomes a way of living. Pray they can escape it. Pray they will never know it.

[Title quote is from "Without a Paddle"]

1 comment:

Jen said...

that would be one lesson they would never forget! in fact it should be a required field trip!

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