I was the last aboard the shuttle. The big guy on the end moved up, and I squeezed in. "Where you all going?" asked the driver. The big guy next to me said "The **** golf course." "Lucky you," I said "It must be nice to have a job that lets you play golf during the week!" "No!" he replied "It's part of our destressing programme."
And he slowly opened up. He was a jailer at **** Prison. Built for 1800 prisoners, currently housing over 9000. As many as 60 prisoners to a single toilet and wash basin. No discipline. When he started 30 years ago, there were work gangs, and good-behaviour prisoners could be let out to do social work like cleaning the streets. Today, they all have rights, and sit watching television all day and enjoying three free meals. When they feel like a real rest, they say they are sick, and are rushed off to hospital. Life is better in prison than outside.
And then there were the gangs. The 26ers would rob you blind, the 27ers would turn you into a woman, the 28ers would make a knife from anything and stab you without a thought. Woe betide the jailer who went against any one gang - all three would turn on him.
And the thing that made him really mad was the poor innocents who couldn't find even R50 for bail, and had sat there for a year, while murderous thieves were in and out in a day. There were miscreant husbands, who had fallen behind on child support, and were now locked up while the children suffered. Eventually the children grew old enough to join a gang, and were soon locked up with their still-jailed father. In the country village where he had grown up, you knew who the baddies were - now your next-door neighbour could suddenly land up under your care. There was something very wrong with the justice system.
Finally he turned to golf. It was the one thing that kept him human. He had grown quite good at it, and was a Correctional Services champion in his age group. As such he had toured the world, and I was amazed to find myself discussing the seventh hole at a Melbourne course we had both played! Put a whole new complexion on the jailer's life!