The warden walked backwards into the classroom as he ended the conversation that made him late. He wore disheveled hair, a gruff beard, and a jumpsuit. He looked fearsome, trembling with sweaty palms. I attributed it to fear of public speaking. As a glossophobe myself, I knew it when I saw it.
As he turned to face the room, the trembling immediately stopped as his face snapped into a smile and he started. "Annnnd, that's how a criminal would walk in here. Welcome, to your first day at Woodyard prison. I hope you're ready for life here at the Wood."
The warden seemed like a natural, but at the same time, well-practiced. His eye contact never broke and his speech never stammered. In the crowded room I felt like he was speaking directly to me.
The speaker would start with a responsibility for us guards. "At 6 AM each one of you will go to your designated block, ring the bell outside of each cell, and wait in the center of the block until each inmate is present and accounted for. Once ready, everyone walks to the cafeteria together for breakfast."
Then, he'd tell a story about a guard getting injured doing that duty:
"Some time ago, about three years ago an inmate, Chester, didn't get to his morning roundup on time. This was the wrong day to be late on the wrong block.
There was this white supremacist, Bill, only two cells down. Bill was a particularly hungry fellow. Especially on Wednesdays. You see, Wednesdays are chicken fried steak and eggs day. It's a pretty big deal here. Bill liked to get it fresh, while it's still hot and the breading is still crispy. He was always the first one out of his cell every Wednesday.
Needless to say, Bill was not a happy camper that day. He paced back and forth as the guards headed to Chester's cell. You'll see this prison isn't that big, but the guards took their time to make Bill squirm.
When they finally dragged Chester back to the group, Bill was staring at him with the fury only a white supremacist can muster. All he said was, 'Ain't my fault, Tony never rang the bell outside my cell.' Bill flipped and charged directly at Tony. He hit him with the force of eight extra years in prison."
Each story ended with an easy to remember moral, this one was, "And that's why you've always got to ring every cell's bell."
I was so impressed with this warden. Orientation at my last spot was just two hours of rote rule reading. This orientation was dynamic and informative. This warden must be much more involved in the day to day. He had so much knowledge about this place, it was like he lived here.
When the orientation ended, he asked if anyone minded driving him to the bus stop a few miles away so that he could get home to his wife. His car was in the shop. Excited at the chance to rub shoulders with my charismatic new boss, I offered to drive him myself.
Story is a reply to this writing prompt: