Today, one of my patients was complaining about a tier officer who he didn’t like. “I just ignore him and keep to myself,” Mr. F said. “If he say good morning to me, I just keep walking.”
“Hold up,” I said. “I seem to remember a time when you told me that it hurt your feelings when you greet staff on the yard, and they act like they don’t know you.”
“Yeah, but that’s an inmate talking to free staff,” Mr. F reasoned. “This is different.”
“Nuh uh,” I told him. “Put all that ‘inmate-staff’ business aside. We’re talking inmates and staff as people. Human beings and common courtesy. How would you feel if you saw me on the yard and you said, ‘Good morning,’ and I just ignored you and kept going?”
Mr. F thought it over. He looked like he was about to say something and then changed his mind. He heaved his shoulders with an exaggerated sigh. “All right. You’re right, Doc. I hear you.”
A few hours later, I happened to be outside, walking across the yard, when I heard someone calling my name. I glanced over at the line of inmates sitting along the bench and immediately spotted Mr. F. The one with his hand raised in the air and waving at me.
I stopped walking and looked him in the eye to make sure that he knew that I knew he’d called out a greeting. Then I turned, lifted my chin haughtily for a deliberate snub, and kept walking. I glanced back. He looked stunned for a moment before the light bulb turned on above his head and he started laughing.
I pointed a finger at him: Bang! Gotcha.