January 9th, 2020
Mr. Butcher arrived at our house for a “home visit” this morning. Mr. Butcher is a parole officer for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. I always think of him as “Butch”. He looks like a “Butch”. He is a big, heavyset guy with a crew cut. He could easily pass for a bouncer, or an assistant football coach at some high school in the north country.
Butch brought his partner along, a woman named Jenny. Jenny is also with the Department of Corrections (DOC). She has that hard look that says quite clearly, “Don’t even think about fucking with me.” I don’t recall her smiling even once during the visit. However, she is a dog lover, so she can’t be all bad.
Jenny glanced at me with suspicion. I don’t really blame her. I don’t have an appearance that necessarily inspires confidence. People often assume that I am either a burned out Harley rider or a Muslim terrorist. I have a ridiculously long beard with dreads in it. Karin says that it makes me look like an old Jew. In any case, people usually don’t have a favorable first impression of me.
Butch and Jenny came to see the young woman who is currently staying in our home. I had thought that the home visit would entail an inspection of some sort. It did not. Butch spent most of the visit explaining to the young woman about the portable breathalyzer that he had brought along for her to use.
The breathalyzer is actually a cool device. It is compact, small enough to fit into a purse. A person blows into the device, and it simultaneously takes a photo of the blower. The breathalyzer then immediately sends a message to the DOC. The message is either “I’m clean” or “Come arrest me”. The girl needs to blow into it four times a day. As a convenience, she receives texts on her phone to remind her to blow into the machine. Technology is amazing.
Butch asked the young woman how she’s doing, and if she is getting some support. She is. He spoke to her about how to deal with relapses. He made a point of telling her to open and honest when there is a relapse, so that she can get help.
I mentioned that I do not want this girl to go back to jail and/or prison. Jenny remarked that they are court ordered to ensure the public safety, and that some actions might require incarceration. I told her that I understand that, but I also know that prison did this young woman no good whatsoever. Jenny and Butch fell back on the fact that whatever happens is dependent on the actions of this girl. They are just going to do their jobs.
Butch gently told the young woman to be amenable to me checking her bags for contraband, if we go shopping. The girl nodded. I piped up,
“I don’t want to check her bags. I want to trust her.”
This sort of thing is a sore point with me. I don’t want to be a CBP agent for my own home. Drug interdiction seldom works. I have no intention of searching her for stuff she shouldn’t have. That’s a loser’s game.
It is also something that harks back to my youth. I grew up in a home utterly lacking in trust. My father was a raving paranoid. He was always interrogating his kids, and always accusing us of various illegal and/or immoral activities. The vast majority of the time he was way off base. However his chronic mistrust of damn near everybody poisoned our relationships. People will meet your expectations, good or bad. Why try to do the right thing if somebody is constantly assuming that you are doing something wrong? I would rather trust somebody and get burned, than not trust at all.
Butch gave the girl a note with the time and date of her next appointment at his office. Jenny petted the the girl’s border collie. Then they got ready to leave.
On his way out, Butch noticed my old Army footlocker. It has my name and rank stenciled on it: “2LT Francis K. Pauc”.
Butch turned to me, and asked, “Second lieutenant, huh?”
“Yeah, that was a long time ago.”
“Yeah, I went to West Point.”
“Really? That’s impressive.”
“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“So, you were in the Army?”
“Yeah, I flew helicopters.”
Butch smiled, “Cool.”
I may have established some street cred with Butch. I hope so. I made need it sometime.