Being In Prison Can Mean Many Things
In my first year, even though I was finally qualified to apply for a credit card, the credit card companies were still wary of issuing cards to a new applicant. That culminated in many phone calls, and in one of the phone conversations, the Customer Service Officer asked for my occupation, of which I casually replied, “I’m with the Prisons.”
There was a short pause, and the woman cautiously asked, “No offence, but why does a prisoner need a credit card and how do you have access to telephones?”
“Erm… You asked for my occupation… I told you I’m working in the Prisons. You have to be clear of what you asked and what answer you are looking for.” I said.
Visitors To Prisons Are Curious About Almost Everything
There was once when I finally got the chance to host a group of visiting educators and introduce the Housing Unit I was working in. As per my usual practice of presentation, I stopped and asked for queries after 5 minutes.
One lady raised her hand and asked, “Thank you for the overview, but I couldn’t help but notice, your name is very unique, it sounds Russian.”
My OC, who was supervising my first presentation, quipped almost immediately, “Yes, he’s from Russia.”
And the group of educators went “Ooooooh” a la Japanese style.
Yellow Ribbon… Run?
In my first year, I was imparted a special knowledge of how to ensure that I need not participate in the run, be it to be part of the ‘sai kang party’, or as a participant to boost the numbers (a la SAF style).
That strategy worked, until I was roped in to the committee officially as a Run Route IC (ensuring all matters along the run route was set up and conducted properly). My tenure for the project went on for another 2 more years since (going into the 4th, had I not tendered my resignation).
Our staff recreational mess provided BBQ pits and they are highly utilised. I have personally used them at least 4 times (excluding the times we used facilities outside of prison compounds). Interestingly, there were 2 times in which we had to create a makeshift indoor BBQ pit because of the rain.
Therefore, when it comes to indoor BBQ, most officers should be able to see to it adequately, even if it means the wet weather was not anticipated for.
SPS has a unique culture of formality, which blends the formal with casual.
For one, I am addressed as Mr Zenov, instead of Mr Yap; even a partner, say, a volunteer with SPS, would be referred to as Mr Nicholas, rather than Mr Liang, for example.
We loved to salute each other even without headwear, and wearing our ranks on our tongue is a taboo.
There was once a new officer called my unit and introduced himself as ASP Ong. He was right technically, but it was difficult to know which ASP Ong he was, considering there were at least 3 other ASP Ong in our radar.
This story, of course, became one of those that we liked to bring up to disturb said ASP Ong.
Doors Are Meant To Be Locked; Unlocked Doors Are Meant To Be Opened
A group of us carried out an informal volunteering trip to Cambodia. Near the end of the trip, our leader, through her network, found us a fabulous hotel. I was sharing a room with my Sikh colleague, and an officer who brought along his wife stayed in the adjoining room.
The first thing I did upon entering the hotel room was to warm my bed, while the Singh went on an exploratory journey. He found the door to the adjoining room, twisted the knob to find it unlocked. He promptly flung the door open and stepped in. The next thing I know, our neighbours were screaming.
My Singh friend scurried back to the room, very much abashed, while I rolled on the bed imagining what he had witnessed.