Looking up over the 16 foot wall with the razor wire glimmering in the sun you see the clouds floating by and the birds who freely go back and forth. Taunting you they flit with ease right over your rampart that holds you in and chirp with a gleeful refrain. It’s different inside these walls, much different. You can go nowhere without eyes upon you and a pat down. Locking doors make an unmistakable sound but you have no control of any, whether it opens or shuts. Inside those walls time has a different meaning, you accomplish a task great, you don’t oh well. You’ve always got time to talk and so you do a lot of it and you’re never quite sure if the lines you’re fed are true or just made up out of the endless hours you have to just think and dream, hoping for the time you get to hear those locking doors for the last time.
In the real world getting your pest control license requires time, experience, money and study but in the infinite wisdom of the powers that be, they set up a system that for $25.00 a guard or maintenance employee can take a 15 question test and have a limited license and thereby cut the hard working entrepreneur out of a gig. This saves the tax payers I guess and allows an inmate to run the halls with a B&G sprayer hosing down the concrete walls at there base just to say a wing or hall was done. In the real world you need to be careful where you spray but behind these walls, you make one wrong swipe and you could be asking for trouble.
In my time behind lock and key I saw so many strange things and met some of life’s most peculiar people. Not one was guilty of course and everybody had a comment as I went by. It was here I learned that a german roach could adapt to well lit surroundings and out of necessity they’d huddle by the hundreds in the smallest of cracks that was somehow missed when they applied their 7th layer of paint. Nests were located farther apart than what you might see in a civilian restaurant and the need for moisture was actually knocked one peg below a harborage place just so they could survive. In the cells of certain individuals you learned quickly NOT to spray. The roaches were a source of ‘interest’ and kept the prisoner occupied in a sick sort of twisted way. There was really no use for aerosols or extra equipment as I’m sure the guards feared that something might be stolen and used for a weapon. The hollow B&G was even opened and checked every once in awhile just to keep you on your toes and remind you of the possibility of getting caught while smuggling something through the compound. This also happened every time the bug truck was brought in the gates and they even had a special stick that they’d use to probe the tank filled with your Dursban mix. I felt guilty for the longest time like they didn’t trust me but after a few years I got use to the guards exploring my equipment and their ever watchful eyes.
Mice were extremely hard to deal with because baits and snap traps were never allowed. Glue boards were the the compound favorite and I carried 2 boxes of 72 on me with each service. As I’d pass through an office bldg. or guard shack I was always asked for some and I knew those boards were going home with the guard and not on the floor behind the desk. In desperation I learned how to cut the boards in half using a soapy pair of scissors and this kept me stocked up on most days.
There were all sorts of buildings in the complex and not unlike an exterminator would have to deal with on the outside. Chapels, libraries, sheds, office bldgs. and even a commissary. In most prisons, (I’ve been in a few) this and the guard shacks were the only air conditioned structures inside the fence. In the heat of the summer you’d have to plan your route so you hit one just about the time the heat would be too much and you’d get a chance to cool down. Being friendly to the guard always helped and I’d usually pull out a few ‘uncut’ glue boards just for him to buy myself some extra time inside the cool and comfortable room.
The worst places to treat were always the cell blocks, you could hear inmates calling from their windows down to you as you walked across the grounds. Sudden pleas to the guards about their huge problems of gnats or spiders rang out and down the halls and the clamor was deafening. This was a slow process if the convicts were in their cells and you’d better take care NOT to hit any magazine or bed roll or you’d never hear the end. It’s amazing what these jail birds would have in their 6×10 rooms. About the only safe place to spray was around the solid commode and maybe a sprits along the entry. DC (disciplinary confinement) was the worst of the worst and you would only be called in there for head lice and though you try to explain that pest control would do no good you had no choice but to spray. Always accompanied with 2 or more guards they’d lead the trouble maker out and he had the huge initials DC on his back and everybody took notice. The cement block bed with its 2 inch thick plastic mattress was all that was in these rooms if you were lucky. These bad boys were famous for ‘fecal matter’ paintings and you just wondered what the hell was in their heads.
In Baltimore (yes I spent time behind the wall there too) I learned quite a bit about bird control. We were allowed to use Avitrol on the further most away roofs but things like’ Hot feet’ or ‘Roost No More’ was our main tool. This caulk like substance was messy and you had to use it sparingly since they limited what you could carry. Roof tops were perhaps the most scrutinized place on the grounds and before you could step foot on a roof they had to clear it with all the towers. Early on I bounded out a open roof door eager for some light and was abruptly grabbed by the neck and quickly hauled in. It was explained to me that guards have orders to shoot in the case of unauthorized personnel on any roof top and that I was probably in the sites of one or two of the guards scopes.
Juvenile prisons were for me the absolute worst and yes I spent a few good years there too. I saw more fights and disrespect in those halls than I ever did in the adult system. The girls were so bad that they were almost always lined up against one wall and I would be on the other side spraying. There were a few times I actually feared for my life as conversations turned to heated accusations and I learned early on that my mouth was to stay shut and I carried that tradition on throughout all the penal systems I was in.
Pest control inside a prison was so much different than anything in the free and open air. You really had to be diplomatic with as few as words as possible and learn how to be effective with very limited tools. I was actually saddened the day I got the news that I had treated my last cell and that I was released. You see my hard labor and time behind bars was never as a result of any crime. I was a contractor who won the bid but was finally let go when some lucky guard answered 9 out of 15 questions right and he was allowed to take my place. I’ve never been back but some facilities have laxed on their rules and I guess I could put in another bid if I wanted to. For me, I’ve had enough of that life & I’m on the straight and narrow now and I am glad I’ve heard my last big metal door lock behind me for the very last time.