Dear Ms. G,
I don’t remember applying for the job I have. I never had the want to work in the field we are in. I remember being desperate, jobless and having two children at home. I remember being at the interview. I remember thinking that there is no way I could ever do that. I remember thinking that I had to. The money was good. The offer was there. I would start 2009 employed. I wasn’t thinking about what my jo was, just that I would be able to pay my bills and buy food.
I stared my IF class. I listened intently to everything everyone was saying, but it never really sank in that I was going to be expected to do any of that. I barely am 5 feet tall. I had never even been inside a prison. But I listened and I absorbed. You were there. You kept saying I could do it. You seemed so sure. I thought you were crazy.
After a week and a half of classroom work, I finally stepped into the institutions. I remember Lt. Henry taking us to the different ones. I remember being terrified. We met you at the USP for count. I couldn’t count. The inmates weren’t cooperating. I was frustrated and terrified. I gave up. I wanted to quit. But you said no. I just needed some time. You said it happened to you when you started. So I came back the next day.
And I kept coming back. I wanted to quit so many times at first. The first time I got gunned by some fool. The first time I ran to a body alarm and saw bloody faces. Every time an inmate got over on me. But I kept coming back.
I wanted to be you. I wanted to be tough and good at my job. I wanted to walk into that USP with my head held high, rather than looking at the ground. I wanted to command respect the way you did. You were my hero.
Now I walk into the USP every day with my head held high. I am not too afraid to direct inmates. I have the respect I earned by doing my job just the way you taught me.
Now you are leaving to move across country and continue with what will be an amazing career. You will be missed every day. I couldn’t have done this job without you. I would never have made it. You made a huge difference in my life and you didn’t even know it. Thanks to you, I have a career I love. I have plans for the future. I have a home and a life for my children. I have food on my table and a dollar in the bank.
Goodbye Ms. G. Good luck to you in everything you do. Always know that to me you are not just a woman, not just a correctional officer, but a hero.
Soon you will leave us, but not too far away.
To so many you were so much more that a boss.
You were the direction we needed when we were heading the wrong way.
You were the friendly advice when we didn’t know what we were doing.
You were the reassurance when we were sure we were wrong.
Your criticisms were gentle, but your accolades were loud.
It just won’t be the same with you gone.
Los Angeles is a lucky place.
Good luck Captain.
You will be missed but never forgotten.