I have a problem with names. It must be genetic. Growing up, my parents called me by each other’s names, Allen or Virginia……and by the dog’s name which was Fifi.
Whenever we got in the car, my parents would start the name game. Their memories left something to be desired. My father would begin talking about movies and would ponder the names of the actors. My mother’s raison was church and its member’s names. As a captive in the backseat, I had to listen to the endless debates about who is who. Developing a defense was the only option, so I memorized names. Now, once I see a written name, I have a hard time forgetting it. This is just one of my positive superpowers.
At Camp Prisoney Land, there was a revolt of the law clerks and the secretary. They all quit. The law library was left with me and a typist to take care of 720 inmates and the two work release centers. Six weeks of quality time with the horde. Yay!
As mentioned, the secretary quit, so the orderly had to step into the breach. Adelie was excellent. The main part of the job is keeping track of the sign-in sheet and scheduling appointments. Adelie had the right talent for the job. When it came time to report the monthly numbers to the supervisor, one item was missing. The names of the inmates from Hollywood and Atlantic work elease centers were missing. Time to activate the superpowers. There is a master roster list for Prisoney Land, but prisoners are not allowed to look at it.
Adelie collected the sign-in sheets for all the inmates who signed in and received services, about 200 women. I reviewed the names and made marks next to all the names I knew from Camp Prisoney Land. There were thirty we were unsure of, I closed my eyes, did a bit of a hum, wiggled my fingers over the remaining list, and called out the six missing names from work release. Adelie leapt away from the table like I had performed witchcraft. I just did all that for effect, what I was actually doing was visualizing faces with names. But still magical, right?
Unfortunately matching names with faces is a struggle for me. Half the time when people are talking to me I have no idea who they are. I have to look at the prison identity tag. This is an even bigger problem with nicknames. It is the fashion in Prisoney Land to have a nickname. The women here never pick original names. Philadelphia, Texas, Tay, Shay, Coco, and Murder. Not memorable or novel. There are many who have chosen these cliched names over the years. If they would pick something like Honey Boo-boo Lips, I might be able to remember, alas. Instead I memorize the government name on the ID. So sorry if that is Shirley, Eunice, or Bobbie Sue, etc. If its not thug enough for your tastes take the issue up with your parents, Tiffany, or the person whose identity you stole, Mitzy. I empathize with you that you now identify as a man, Amanda. Its just too hard to remember your new names. In fact, if I am too confused about whom I am speaking to you will be lucky if I get the first letter right CandieCarrieConstance, whoever you are, you tall girl with the pressed hair and red glasses.
One day, I was serving a client in the jail section of the Special Housing Unit. Her real name was Shannon Kinlow. Thus her nickname Shank. I was tired and feeling a bit rushed. When I called her to the door, I mistakenly called her skank. Oops! She jerked back from the window as if I’d slapped her. Ms. LaFleur, how could you? The accompanying officer got the hysterical giggles. I sternly told Shank she had a choice of Shannon or Kinlow, pick one.
I feel for Shannon, people forget my name all the time. I get called Charlotte, Christina, Lorrie, Flora, Floor, and bizarrely McFlurry. One senior, aged 74, calls me Renee. When I respond to her anyway, she always remarks how thrilled she is to remember me. I respond, yes honey, you sure did get it right!
If I think someone is talking to me I will respond…..even if you call me Fifi.
Catherine LaFleur DOC #J14175
Homestead Correctional Institution
19000 S.W. 377th Street, Suite 200
Florida City, Florida 33034
or Catherine LaFleur DOC# J 14175@ JPay.com
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