My buddy Lieutenant H is currently serving as the Captain on our yard. That means he is at the top of the administrative chain of command and gets the big office with a nice wide view of the yard. I have frequently stopped by his office to chat, and now that he is the Captain, it’s even more fun to chat with him in the new office.
This afternoon I stopped in to say hello and to check out the activities on the yard. Directly across the office window were several inmates seated on the benches or standing around, talking to each other. I don’t even remember exactly what H and I were initially discussing, but the conversation got around to gang members on the yard. H told me that inmates aren’t allowed to demonstrate any kind of gang signs on the yard, but they find ways to get around it.
“See that guy with the water bottle in his hand? It’s got a red lid,” H pointed out. “He’s flashing his colors. He’s a Blood.”
H scanned the rest of the immediate area. “See that guy there with the blue folder under his arm? He’s a Crip.”
Just then, one of the yard officers happened to walk past the office door. H called for him to come inside the office.
“Hey, B,” H said. “You see that guy over there with the red lid on the plastic bottle? You know him? I was just telling Dr. V here that he’s a Blood.”
Officer B came over to the window to get a better look. He peered at the object in question. “That’s a Sanka coffee container,” he said. “That’s the color of the lid.”
“Okay, well, what about this guy over here with the blue folder?” H asked.
Officer B leaned forward, squinted, and checked it out. “They get those folders from Education. The teachers hand them out. It’s whatever color the teacher gives them.”
I looked at H. He looked at me and shrugged with his hands open in a “What can I say?” gesture.
“Okay,” he said. “I guess I got cynical.”