I was taken to a small office. In the office was an Arab man who was small and weak-looking. If any of these criminals wanted to bash his head in, Imad would have had no chance in the fight. He didn't smile as he held out his hand and introduced himself. "I'm Imad. I'm the second in charge here concerning your position. Second in charge, okay?"
I shook his hand and said, "Yes."
He handed me a piece of paper that showed the complete hierarchy of NEOTAP. It looked like a strange family tree. At the top was a man named Edward Choffin and then under him was a man named Robert Jones. He pointed to where he was on the tree and showed me where I was. He said, "You must remember hierarchy trumps procedure. If you are following a procedure and a person higher on this tree says to do something else, you do it. You cannot question it. You cannot reply that you are following procedure. You are currently at the bottom of this tree. Since you are at the bottom of this tree, you cannot question anyone above you. You cannot ask anyone else a question because they are all higher than you on the tree and they are not expected to answer any of your questions. You cannot answer any questions the residents ask you. They are lower than you on the tree. You are above them. Therefore you don't ask residents questions and they cannot ask you questions. You cannot ask anyone above you a question and you cannot ask anyone below you a question. No one above you will ask you a question because you are below them. Do you understand?"
"Yes. But how do I know what to do?"
"There will be memos."
"Where do the memos come from?"
"The memos will be in your mailbox when you get to work. The memo will be there, you will read the memo, and you will know what to do from the memo."
"Who makes the memos?"
"You cannot ask that."
"Oh, okay, sorry."
"Now we must learn about over the counter medications.
An over the counter medication is like Tums. Do you know what Tums are?"
"Yes, a thing for heartburn."
"Yes, Tums are for heartburn. Every day we give the residents Tums. If they want Tums, they come to the counter and we give them Tums. We sign three pieces of paper recording who gets Tums. It is very important that we watch them eat the Tums. They must chew all the Tums in front of us. It takes a long time for the Tums to be passed out. If we do not watch them, they might not eat the Tums. They might go back to their room with the Tums and sell the Tums for food at lunch, commit suicide with the Tums, or even build a weapon and attack someone with Tums. Everyone in here has a criminal mind. They cannot be trusted with Tums. Every time you give them anything, they will take it and try to find bad things to do with it. We cannot allow them to do bad things. We must fill their heads full of positive thoughts. We want positive, good citizens that eat their Tums. We will not stand for weapons made out of Tums. They could take the Tums and make a key out of it, then use the key to open the doors and get out of the building. Then we have escape issues. We have to call the police, the police come, then the media comes. The media tells everyone that a criminal has escaped using Tums. Then the politicians in the capitol refuse to fund our facility because people escaped using Tums. Then you are fired because you didn't follow the Tums procedure. Do you understand?"
"I am glad you understand. Do you like fantasy football?"
"I've never played."
"My favorite football team is the Miami Dolphins. I think we can win some games this year. Our offense looks really good. I think we have a chance to get to the playoffs. I'm worried about my fantasy football team though, it doesn't look good. I didn't get a good draft."
I stared at him.
Imad and I left the office and went to something called The Watchtower. It was a little area with a counter and mailboxes for the residents. It overlooked the lower floor where the residents worked on assignments the cognitive behavioral therapy teachers gave them.
Imad sat down in a chair and said, "You can't sit around on this job. You have to keep busy. There are always things to do. You can't sit around and daydream, you have to stay alert. These are career criminals. These people are going to try to manipulate you every minute of the day. You must never give them a reason for why you are doing something. It is not required of us to give them reasons. We can tell them to clean the floor with a toothbrush, we can tell them to sit next to a wall alone for a week. We don't need to supply them with a reason."
Imad pointed to a guy sitting next to a wall. The man was in his twenties and looked like he hadn't combed his hair in weeks. Imad pointed and said, "That's Nick Pio. We stuck him on the wall a week ago. He isn't allowed to speak to anyone. He isn't allowed to do anything but work on his anger management assignments and read if he wants to. But he can't read very well, so he doesn't. He is allowed once an hour for three minutes to go to the bathroom. We have never told him why he is on the wall. We don't have to. We are in a position of authority. Authority is not required to supply reasons for their behavior, because hierarchy trumps procedure."
"Is there a reason for him being there?" I said.
"There was a memo to put him on the wall, so we put him on the wall."
"What was the reasoning on the memo?"
"The memo didn't state."
"This job is crazy busy. You have to stay busy."
Imad had been sitting in a cushioned seat not doing anything for ten minutes.
I eventually sat in the other cushioned seat.
Twenty minutes passed. We had not moved.
Thirty minutes passed. We had not moved.
The whole time Imad sat there staring. Sometimes he would talk about the Dolphins and how he thought they would have a good season. I wanted to ask him what nationality he was from the Arab world. I had read several books of history on the Arab, Persian and Turkish people and thought it might be interesting to discuss it with him. But it dawned on me he would never want to talk about his life with me. I was below him. I could not ask him questions.
Imad finally stirred after forty minutes. He said, "But before I call up the residents, this is the first time you will have interaction with the residents. You cannot have conversations with them. They are going to try to manipulate you. They know you are a new hire and they will try to take advantage of you every way they can. There is a target on your head right now. It says 'New hire, manipulate me.' You cannot talk to the residents. If they have a question, direct them to me. If you have a question while they are around, do not ask it. They cannot see if you have any questions. There are no questions while they are around. If one tries talking to you, no matter what it is, tell them to ask me. Even if they don't have a question, tell them to ask me. If they talk about negative things, we write them on the log. They know this. We know this. Everything they say must be positive. They must talk about how they will get jobs and pay their child support and not steal."
"But won't that lead to them just coming up to us and saying positive things so you will write that they said something positive in the log?"
Imad looked at me angrily and said, "No."
Imad called to the lower floor to get the fifteen residents to come up.
Fifteen residents came up.
It was my first real interaction with the residents.
They stood in a polite line not talking. There was some whispering but it was barely audible.
Each resident came up one at time.
Imad checked a sheet, then signed another sheet and then filled out a large document concerning who took the Tums, how many they took, when they took them, and then he signed that one.
One came up. Imad filled out all the forms which took a minute, then put the Tums in a small plastic cup, then dumped the Tums into the resident's left hand. The resident put the Tums in his mouth, held up his left hand so Imad could see. Imad stared at the resident's left hand. Then the resident was required to chew the Tums loudly standing in front of him. When the resident was done chewing the Tums he had to open his mouth to show that he had chewed them to a point that he could not make a weapon or key out of the Tums. Then Imad would say, "You can go."
After it was over, Imad collected all the documents and put them into a special place. Then went on the computer and filled out a log of everyone who took Tums and how many they took. The whole process lasted one hour.