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Serving Responsibility

In 2005, at Lee Correctional Institution, I was approached by a fellow prisoner named Jerry Talford. “Brother Hunt, would you be interested in a cafeteria clerk job?” Yeah but…, I hesitantly responded. “Do you have office experience, or typing experience?” I replied, “office experience, no, typing skills yes.” I was nervous about my lack of experience working in an office with supervisors. It was a feat for me to obtain my G.E.D. not too long ago and at 22 years old, with a 35-year sentence, I was still trying to get clarity on why I exist after irreparably destroying my life and the life of my victim. Interestingly enough, the timing of this opportunity came on the heels of recently purchasing a smith-corona word processor to maintain my typing skills.

Good morning Mr. Perry, nice to meet you. “So, you want to apply for the clerks position?” Yes sir. “Do you have an experience?” I am a fast learner and can type pretty well. Mr. Perry was the head cafeteria supervisor and did not appear persuaded at my poop interviewing skills, but he trusted Jerry’s ability to train me to become a proficient office clerk. The office door was not completely closed, and I heard both supervisors express to Jerry their concern about me being too young. After their discussion I was told that I’d be given a trial period.

My mom and dad were excited that I got the job. By the six-month mark, I felt competent at managing my responsibilities to maintain all hard files, generate monthly reports for the therapeutic and no-meat diets, while exhibiting a professional decorum with co-workers and supervisors. The training Jerry provided went beyond the job, it included spiritually developing as a follower of Christ Jesus and learning how to love it in every area of life. Going the extra mile, maintaining a good attitude under duress, and being accountable, caused me to garner respect from my co-workers, supervisors, and myself. Individual and group bible studies outside of the job site helped me to demonstrate an authentic integrity on the job site, and these experiences gradually began to reveal what my full potential looked like.

By the end of the year, Jerry told me that he was taking a few months off and recommended me to replace him as head clerk. It was an honor to be recommended, but I did not believe I was ready, also I had become accustomed to Jerry’s presence, he was like a big brother. The supervisors personally expressed their confidence in my ability to manage the head clerk position, and train someone to occupy my former position. Every now and then Jerry intentionally took half and whole days off without telling me, so that I would learn how to balance both our work loads. The following day they would discuss my performance and offer tips for improvement and praise where I did well under pressure. The head clerk duties entailed managing the work schedule of co-workers, preparing inventory logs for inspection, facilitating orientation for new employees, troubleshooting conflicts between co-workers, and taking phone calls. For a few weeks I reported to the office at 4AM and remained until closing at 6PM to remain aware of the office demands of each shift. There were also times that I had to leave the office to help an understaffed area in the pot shack to clean dishes. The co-workers loved to see me get soap suds and food stains on my clean clothes, but it earned their respect to literally roll up my sleeves to get dirty with them to help get their job done.

Towards the summer of 2006 I found a person to train for the Diet Clerk position. He joked that he had never been trained by someone young enough to be his son. Prior to this job, my work experience consisted of mostly fast-food restaurants and a theme park. This was the first time I had ever been a responsible adult and tasked with being responsible for managing so many significant duties.

Around the same time, I applied for an Associates degree program at another prison and my supervisor reluctantly wrote a recommendation letter for me. “Hunt, you’re good at this job and I won’t want you to leave, but I won’t hold you back from bettering yourself.” It felt incredibly rewarding to become proficient at the job and build a rapport with co-workers and supervisors in the process.

Eighteen years later, (as of May 2023), at Tyger River Correctional Institution, I find myself continuing to occupy a clerking role for the pre-release and re-entry department of the facility. As a re-entry clerk, I am tasked with assisting my supervisor in facilitating a soft-skills (emotional intelligence) course, job interviewing and resume building for returning citizens that are 30 to 60 days away from being released from prison. It is still important to me that I manage my professional life as effectively as my personal life. When I am off the job site, I am facilitating a biblical manhood and leadership course called Kingdom Man by Tony Evans. This course helps our group grow towards reaching our full potential off and on the job site.

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2 comentários

Jamie Williams
Jamie Williams
12 de jul. de 2023

My son just today mentioned Kingdom Man to me ❤️


Good article.

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