The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Everything not mandatory is prohibited

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, I posted a topic, “Short Eyes,” describing a day in my life in work release. On Friday, Sept. 18, I received a call at work from Sgt. Severson, the work release facility commander. She said she was “concerned.”

When I asked why, she said I had violated the conditions of work release by posting a blog about it and by not notifying work release when I was changing location while out at work. After a few seconds of my attempting to ascertain how that was, and her brooking no discussion, she said, “We’ll talk about it Monday morning.

I was informed when I checked in that evening that I was going to be held in (not allowed to go to work Saturday and Sunday) over the weekend. She hadn’t mentioned that little point on the phone. Monday, Sgt. Severson was out sick. Tuesday, I was called into her office where she, between sniffles and coughs, asked about my photography reference in the blog post. I explained that was the principal part of my job. She said I hadn’t mentioned that when I had told them about my work.

She also said that it was important for the WRF people to know where I was every second of the time I was away from the facility; the blog post mentioned my having made 55 sales calls. I said that I had talked to her about that issue at orientation, and that she had told me that I should call in whenever I changed location. I had asked, “Do you really want me to call in every five minutes to let you know I am going to move a block from my current location?” She had said, “Well, just have a cell phone with you, so we can check on you.”

That meeting ended with her saying, “You’ll have to wait in the facility while I talk to your boss.” Some time later that day she called Randee Peterson at and verified that everything I said about my work was true. Sometime after noon she called me back to the office and told me that. She also said that since it was after noon it didn’t make much sense for me to go to work that day, despite the fact that I could have made more sales calls in Rapid City. She also said that I should make a better distinction between the words “calls,” which could mean phone calls, and actual "visits" to a potential customer.

Thus, having informed me that being held away from my job for four days was probably sufficient punishment for having done nothing wrong, I would be allowed to return to work on Wednesday, Sept. 23. Eleven days later I completed that part of my debt to society and was released. I am still on probation and under a gag order, unable to speak publicly about a serious societal disease until July 6, 2010.


caheidelberger said...

Keep these stories coming, Bob. Fascinating. Just watch that last sentence! If they were that serious about sales calls, they'll be watching your words on probation as well.

David Newquist said...

This is a tale about what bureaucracies are. And it doesn't make any difference whether they are government or corporate bureaucracies. The nature of a bureaucracy is the exercise of unreasoned authority and arbitrary exercise of power. And, er ah, the accompanying lack of cognitive integrity.

I am experiencing it in a non-penal setting. Actually, the penalties are manifest. I am caught between a medical clinic that claims an insurance company declined to pay a bill and an insurance company, to which exorbitant premiums were paid, that claims it was never billed. Said clinic wants to go into collection. The state insurance bureaucracy says it has no jurisdiction in the matter. We have been referred to the Dept. of Labor, which is looking to see if it has jurisdiction.

If citizens had the right to obtain the records of the clinic and insurance company, the matter could be resolved. But citizens do not have rights with bureaucracies. We all live under the authority of Nurse RatShit from "One Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest."

You are right: everything not mandatory is prohibited.