I often tell my students that one of the most useful writing skills they can develop is eavesdropping. Yesterday, I found myself in the waiting room of the county Adult Probation Office (I was waiting for someone I gave a lift to, not reporting myself, you'll be happy to know) for a couple of hours. This was the result. Almost verbatim - I just arranged the lines a little.
Adult Probation Waiting Room – a Found Poem
How do you spell “education?”
That’s a funny word to ask how to spell. E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N.
E-D-U-C… You sure? I thought there was a J in it.
Yeah. That’s okay, though – I’m not good at spelling, either.
I’m better at math.
Did you just get out? The shoes give it away – you worked in the kitchen. I worked in the kitchen too until I got into a fight and they threw me in the hole.
I’ve never been in trouble before.
What did they get you for?
Possession with intent.
When did you plead in?
What’s your name again? Belinda? Oh, Melinda. You’re pretty.
P.O. caught me coming out of a bar – he hid behind a planter and caught me as I came out the door. He jumped out and said, “Jenny! What are you doing?” I said, “Shit, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” The sheriff came to the halfway house that night and cuffed me.
That bitch Shelley reported me for printing out a picture of my kid from MySpace when I should have been job-hunting. They violated me for that. For that! I haven’t seen my kid in four months.
Where is Mike? I needed to report within 24 hours of release, and it was 24 hours at noon. I’ve been waiting for two hours.
Well, you shoulda said no. It’s not my responsibility.
I don’t know what to tell you. I didn’t do anything wrong.
What’s the matter with you? Maybe your higher power is teaching you patience today.
Shut the fuck up.
Have you been to the Eclipse? How about the Gemini? They’re fun – well, I guess they were fun. I can’t go there anymore.
Didn’t we go to junior high together?
You gotta attend meetings, too? Go to AA. Unless you like the dysfunctional shit - then go to NA. But AA is a half an hour faster.
Can Steve see me today? I gotta talk to Steve.
I was in for nine months. Then they gave me time served. They dropped the other charges.
Yeah, I remember you. You got any kids? Three? I got four.
Who’s your P.O.? Debbie? Oh, lordy, she’s a real pain in the ass. If you can survive her, you can survive anything.
You aren’t on the schedule.
I report every Tuesday.
We have you down for the 5th.
I know it says the 5th on the card, but that was Saturday. I report every Tuesday.
E-D-U-C …Are you sure there isn’t a J in it somewhere?