Friday, February 23, 2007

Things I See At Work

I've mentioned before that I work at a county jail. I'm a Control Room Operator (CRO) assigned to a general population pod.

We have mostly young men, but a few older men are housed here too. White, Black, Hispanic; some gang members, a lot not; a lot of tattoos to be sure; long hair, short hair, no hair. In other words, a lot of diversity. Some are here on their first charges, others have lengthy criminal records. Some will serve their time here; others will move on to the prison system.

One thing I've noticed is something I've also seen on the street. The "fashion" of wearing their pants down around their hips, leaving their undershorts showing. It's mostly the younger men, and transcends the races.

Maybe it's my age. After all, I have entered that time of my life called "middle age", and I am a white female. Even though I've worked for this agency in various positions for almost 25 years, I've lived a rather sheltered, perhaps naive, life. I don't have kids so I haven't been exposed to what's popular with kids, except when I worked in Juvenile. And even then, I didn't interact much with the boys.

So I don't understand what's up with this particular fashion. Especially when I know how it started (apparently, in prisons, certain males wore their pants like this to be more accessible to other male inmates who, uh, well, make use of the availability). It's hard to believe that some of these guys, in here or on the street, would follow a fashion with this reputation. I've recently noticed that the pants seem to be moving downward. Some are wearing their pants at thigh level. Thank God for elastic waistbands!

I have to laugh when I see some of these guys trying to move up and down the staircase with the crotch of their pants down around their knees. Or trying to play basketball with their pants down at their knees and tripping on the long pant legs. Some of them now are wearing two pairs of undershorts, one pair at the waist and the other somewhere between the first pair of undershorts and the outer pants. Some are cuffing their pant legs so the pants are capri length. Some have one leg cuffed high on the leg (capri length) and the other cuffed at the ankle. What's with that?

Then there is the habit of putting their hands in their pants. They seem to be holding onto something, but I'm not sure whether it's their pants, underpants, or "you-know-what". Maybe it's just colder in the pods than it is in the control room.

I know it's the "gansta" and thug lifestyle. But really. Where are the fashion police when you need them??
Abducted Child Found Safe

About 9:00 this morning, a child here in Manatee County was abducted from his school bus stop at gunpoint.

It was apparently a random choice. This child happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The abductor, who shall be known here as the SOB, stopped his pickup at this bus stop, got out and pointed a gun at this boy and ordered him into the pickup. The boy (who I will not name because not all facts about just what happened to him have been released) reportedly said that he didn't know the SOB and didn't want to go with the SOB. He finally did go with the SOB, but thankfully was found several hours later.

Apparently, the SOB tied the boy up and left him in a building on a farm here in the county. The boy was able to free himself of his bonds and found workers on the farm. They allowed him to use a cellphone to make a call. I haven't heard whether he called his parents or the police, but it wasn't long before he was reunited with his frantic family.

I was out and about during part of the time the boy was missing, and believe me, I was looking for pickups that matched the description of the one involved in this act. I stopped for lunch and another customer mentioned that the child was safe.

I work at the Central Jail, and I hope to all that's Holy that when this SOB is found and arrested, he not be placed in the pod I work in. The chances are that he will be in protective custody for his own safety. I don't have contact with the inmates, but I do interact with them. I'm not sure I could be civil to him and treat him as I would other inmates. It's the reason I don't go looking to find out what these guys have been charged with. This is a time when I'm better off not knowing certain things.

I can't tell you how angry I am at people who think they have the "right" to do whatever the hell they want. This SOB, for some reason thought he had the right to abduct this young boy. I have no idea what he planned to do with the child, but I'm sure, since it was at gunpoint, the SOB didn't plan on taking him to Disney World for the weekend.

Why do people think they have the "right" to abduct kids, break into our homes, steal our identities, our material possessions, and our feeling of security? How about just running red lights, and cutting people off in traffic. Not to mention all the other things that people think they have the "right" to do. Yeah, I know, without people like this, I'd be out of a job. Believe me, I can find other work.

About, oh, 20 years ago, I was living with my parents. It was a week or two before Chirstmas. My parents went to a meeting at our church. I was supposed to go to the same meeting, but we were having a party at work the next day and I needed to make a dish for the party, so I begged off and went shopping. My parents left a little later.

I got home first. I brought my stuff into the house, started working on whatever it was I was taking to work, then went into the living room. I noticed a few things were out of place, but didn't think too much of it. I went into my parents room and saw things weren't as my mother would have left them. When I went into my room, I knew something was wrong; things were on my bed that I hadn't left out. I was still in denial, hoping without thinking it that there was a reason for all this. When I went into the bathroom, I couldn't deny it anymore: the window screen was folded nearly in half and laying in the bathtub.

By this time, I had been through the entire house and knew there was no one else in the house. Since my parents were due home shortly, I waited, still hoping there was a rational explanation for what I found. When they got home, I found out there wasn't, so I called 911. A deputy, who I happened to know, arrived and took a report and fingerprints. There really wasn't alot he could do.

A few weeks later, there was an article in the paper about a criminal who had been arrested for a series of break-ins. The article, as I recall, was basically about this poor guy who had a drug problem. He broke into houses, basically because the homeowners made it easy for him. For instance, leaving bathroom windows open.

Leaving the bathroom window open? That's how the guy got into our house! I talked to a detective and found out he had admitted to breaking into our house. And, as I was coming in the front door, he was going out a window in the back of the house. Apparently, we made it easy because the bathroom window was left open.

Excuse me? We were at fault because this creep didn't make the right choices in life? One being to NOT break into our house? We should live in a world where everyone can leave their doors (and windows) standing wide open and not worry that someone is going to come in and steal from them. Kids should be able to wait at a bus stop without worrying that someone is going to abduct them. People should be able to walk down the street at any time of day or night without even thinking that someone would harm them in any or form.

We should be able to fly without concern that people would hijack the plane or blow it up; work in office buildings without worrying that planes will fly into them or use explosives to blow up the building.

I know we don't live in the world of my fantasy and that nothing is perfect, but wouldn't it be nice if we could at least live in a world where our kids could be safe going to school?
Personal Bank Accounts

I've read somewhere that every married woman should have certain things, one being enough money of her own to know that she could leave the marriage if she felt it necessary.

And no, I'm not advocating that any woman should just up and leave, but there are women who stay in a marriage because they don't have money of their own. Every one, male or female, should have that much independence.

I've always believed that every person, even (maybe even especially) married couples, should have their own personal bank accounts in addition to joint accounts. It's not a matter of not "trusting" a spouse. It's a matter of having some independence and knowing you are not dependent on anyone else. It was nice knowing that I could buy a gift for him using "my own money", not "his" or "ours" to buy a gift for him. Or to buy something for myself that was not from "our money". Since I was basically the family breadwinner for the last four years, he had money of his own, independent of our joint account, and he never had to ask if he could buy this or that.

How would a woman, particularly one who elects to stay home and take care of their family and raise the kids, get money to have her own account? Well, that's up to the woman. She would make darn good money if she did this for a living, so perhaps she should receive some kind of monetary payment for her services. Maybe what the couple would save in daycare expenses? Just a thought. It's a situation that has to be up to the couple and their particular financial situation.

In any case, since I have been working for years, I was at a place when we married that I could have my own account. I set a figure that would go into the joint account every payday and the rest went into my personal account. My husband didn't have a personal account at that time, but he kept cash out and deposited the rest into the joint account. When he couldn't work any more and started receving Social Security disability, he set up his own account. For a while, his check went into the joint account. When his check came in, he would transfer a portion to his account and leave the rest in the joint account. Later, he changed the deposit to his account. He would transfer most of it to the joint account and keep the rest for his own use. If the joint account ran low, one or both of us would transfer money to the joint account. Or, if one of us needed money in our accounts, we would agree to take money from the joint account.

Having our own accounts gave each of us a feeling of independence. It was our "play money" and we could do whatever we wanted with that money. I couldn't tell him what to do with his money and he couldn't tell me what to do with mine. We didn't criticize the other on how we spent our "own" money.

You may have read my attempt to close his account. If you didn't, just scroll down to find it. In a nutshell, because I wasn't on the account, I can't close it without, basically a court order.

So, you single people, guys and gals, and married folks who have personal accounts separate from your spouse, check with your bank to see what will happen if you or spouse dies. If it's you, what will your family have to do to close the account and get the money you probably want them to have? If it's your spouse, what will you have to do to get access to the money and to close the account? When we opened our accounts, neither of us were told about this. Just another thing this bank didn't tell us about (other issues, don't worry, I'm not going into those).

Hey, maybe you're married, and have someone on the side. Not saying you are cheating on your spouse, but we all know lots of people do. And maybe it's a child that for some reason you want to be sure has some money after you're gone. Making them a beneficiary of this account will be one way to be sure that person gets this money.

Of course, having a will is a better way to go, but that's another story
Are You The Only Person on Your Bank Account?

If so, you'll need to read this.

I went to the bank today to close my husband's account. As you might recall, he passed away in December. I should have done this a month ago, but finally go around to it today.

I took a copy of his death certificate, the last statement, and a copy of our marriage license with me. Since I didn't change my name when we married I thought I might have to prove our relationship, even though we have a joint account at that bank.

After sitting for about ten minutes waiting for someone to wait on me, an employee asked if I needed help. Well, I was in a bank, not at a teller's window...duh! I explained that I wanted to close my husband's checking account because of his death. I gave her the statement and a certified copy of the death certificate. She asked if I was on the account. I said no, it was his account and I wasn't on it. Were you married? Yes. But you aren't on the account. No, I am not. Do you have an account with us? Yes, I have a personal account and we have (had?) a joint account. She opened his account in her commputer and said, "You aren't listed on the account." (This is now the third time it's been said that I wasn't on the account).

She asked if he had a will. I explained that this bank account was pretty much all he had that was in his own name and he never felt a will was necessary (nor did I to tell the truth). I found out, that since he died without a will (more about that another time), I would have to get a letter from a judge giving the bank the authority to close the account and turn his money (all $106.00) over to me.

I asked if this was a bank policy or if it was Florida statute. After checking with another bank employee, I was told that it was statutory. I said I understood that the bank and its employees had no choice, but this was stupid when you're talking about $106.00. It's not a fortune by any means. Sure, there are people who would love to have that much money, but it's not enough to help anyone for more than a few weeks at most. Then I admittedly threw a hissy fit and stormed out of the bank.

Now, in order to close the account I'm going to have to file documents with the Circuit Court which will probably cost more than what's in that account. I'll be contacting the court next week to find out just what I have to file and how much it will cost, but this is stupid.

I will also be contacting my local legislator to see if a bill changing this stupid statute can't be introduced. My suggestion will be that a spouse or other next-of-kin wanting to close a decedent's bank account of say, less that $500, upon presentation of appropriate documents, can simply close the account and receive the money in the account.

So, my advice to anyone out there who has a bank account soley in their own name, immediately assign someone else to the account, perhaps as beneficiary. It doesn't mean that that person can empty out the account (but that's exactly what happened to a friend of mine about ten years ago and the reason I wasn't on my husband's account and he wasn't on mine), but others may avoid this from happening to them.

We had personal accounts so that we would each have money that was our own, separate from the joint account. My husband's oonly income was a monthly disability check, most of which he transferred into the joint acount. Look, that $106 won't make or break me by any means, But it's sad that that little bit of money that my husband would have wanted me to have will be eaten up by bank fees in a few months. And I'll be paying the Circuit Court more that than (I think) to obtain it.

Good grief, I changed our mortgage to my name with no trouble. I just had to provide the death certificate and a letter from me asking to remove his name from the mortgage. I had his van re-titled to me with no trouble.

Oh, and after my hissy fit, I had to go back into the bank in order to have his name removed from our joint account. Now that they would do with simply his death certificate and my driver's licence. And an apology from me for throwing the fit to begin with. And, an admonation for "throwing" papers at her, which I really didn't do. I do admit to tossing them on her desk. Again, I apologized for my behavior. I don't normally act like this, but I was frustrated with the lack of help.

And, they never did express any condolences on my loss. Not before my fit or after.