My Promotion, A Camp Christmas Story

After working for 16 years as an executive assistant and receiving many promotions based on my performance, I always cherished those days of servicing the needs of my executives, of a job well done, and the rewards and accolades that came with it.  More responsibilities, larger challenges, better projects, higher salaries and perks, and the chance to work with management and further diversify myself within the corporate ranks.  Things that only serve to catapult ones career and help with garnering a stellar reputation, both of which were always very important to me.  I was always known as one of the ones who could deal with the most demanding executives. And I always did it with a can-do attitude which translated into “yes I’d be more than happy to help you with that”. That attitude got me up to working with both the CEO and his office.

As many of you may know, most all of us inside the Camp are assigned a job to work on a daily basis.  These jobs mostly consist of orderly positions for 2-3 hours a day where we do nothing but physically clean spaces in a building/area that is assigned to us.  While other more coveted and higher level positions do exist here, the orderly positions are generally what are both needed and available, and as such, you are quickly assigned them as a newbie when you first get to Camp.  As with anywhere, there is a pecking order so starting at the bottom and putting in your dues is the modus operendi here as much as it is anywhere else.  Although that axiom isn’t necessarily true as at the same time, the diversity of available positions in other Camps across the BOP varies by both institution and existing programs.

Currently, I’m an orderly in the Education Department (ED) within our Camp and clean the office and classroom of the Department Director, a position and location that I was very happy to land.  Especially so, given some of us are assigned to clean areas of the adjacent Pen, a location that I’d just as soon avoid.  Our hourly rates do vary somewhat and my orderly position commands a whopping $0.17/hour.  And for many here who don’t have family that can afford to renew their commissary accounts on the monthly renewal basis, job salaries become especially vital given the exorbitant cost of necessary items that can only be purchased from said commissary.  So the bottom line is that past the 90-day minimum that you are required to work your current position, everyone is on the lookout for a better paying position thereafter.

Given my friendly nature to all as well as the professional assistance that I’ve freely offered to many of the women here with resume writing, etc., I’ve made alot of worthwhile contacts with women who are in better positions with higher salaries.  And my assistance and demonstrated abilities have finally paid off as two of the women I’ve helped are sequentially transitioning out of their coveted positions into other ones at a higher salary and have coincidentally recommended me with their managers as their replacements.  Both of these positions would get me out of being an orderly, would allow me the opportunity to help others, and would enable me to make more money to boot.  One of these positions would involve me teaching reading comprehension in the Education Dept. which would be worthwhile as many of the women here are younger Hispanic girls who speak little to no English.  And the other even more coveted position is being the clerk at the Powerhouse, a position that I was really hoping to land when I first got here but whose availability was delayed, hence my being assigned as an orderly.  Of the two, I will likely opt for the Powerhouse position.

As I’ve been here and working my orderly position for over 2 months now and am rapidly approaching my 90-day job minimum, the stars have finally aligned and my timing couldn’t be better.  I did my orderly job to the letter and beyond, always did it with a smile, and was always pleasant to my ED manager and who I will miss as she always treated me with respect.

So once again, YEA!, I’m being promoted and have not one but two positions to pick from – a rarity anywhere to say the least.  And even though it is here in the Camp, it is an opportunity that I feel fortunate of and am grateful for.  It also continues to exemplify to me that hard work can pay off anywhere, that doing your best always matters, that I still have my touch and haven’t lost my skills, and that I have some solace and look forward to again making a difference in the working world upon my release.  Self-validation and hope for the future – who could really ask for a better Christmas present than that!!

Given you all will be celebrating Christmas and will likely not be reading anything next week, I’ll take this opportunity to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Safe, Prosperous, and Happy New Year.  And thank you again for following me.


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