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The little boy part 2 : starting to work by thadeusz
The seven new cadets were there waiting in a line. DI Robert, who seemed to be a sort of Corporal for the other DIs told them: "You are now in uniform. You must show respect to the DIs and salute them in a military fashion when you meet them.” He then showed them how to salute and made them repeat several time in order to be sure that all of them did it correctly. Johnny did not do it well, but DI Robert ignored that.
He then continued "Your uniform must always be perfectly clean and ironed. In order to let you prepare your uniform, you will have additional pieces of equipment, including additional undies. The rest of your kit will be given you later. You have also been provided with a dog collar. In order to let the detector read correctly the chip placed in your dog collar, you must always pass a door one at a time. Any attempt to pass two at a time will result in an alert signal which could lead to a severe punishment for the two culprits. Your uniform is new to you and not easy to wear correctly, your dog collar is purposely uncomfortable for the reasons explained by the Chief DI. You will have now a little bit of time to get used to both of them.”
The new cadets were then marched in step in a line toward the cell section, where they could see 15 cells in a row with open doors, cells similar to the cell where they had waited (some during several days) for the transportation van. The cadets were told to keep marching until each of them had reached one of the doors. DI Robert ordered then "Halt. Left turn. March in your cell, go !” Each new cadet entered an isolation cell and the door was locked. The cadets had to wait there for the rest of the day and for the night. The motive was to let them get used to wear their Pearow juvenile boot camp uniform and dog collar. Each boy got two slices of bread and one tin beaker of water for the night. Johnny chose to sit on the floor. He took of his cap and started furiously to pass his hands on his head, trying to find what was left of his hair. After that he tried first to push down his dog collar which he felt as very uncomfortable because it forced him to keep his head in an upright position : Johnny loved placing his head as if he was looking at his shoes and not as a proud man, but he failed to change anything. He then he tried to take off his dog collar, in vain. Then, exhausted, he layed down and slept on the floor ignoring the plank placed alongside one of the wall as "bed”.
The next morning, at 04:30, the seven new cadets were extracted from their cells and lead to the main courtyard : it is sportime till 05:30 ! Johnny felt very bad : his dog collar was scratching his neck and forcing him to keep his chin up, his uniform was well adjusted and not floating loosely like his old clothes and his boots were very heavy compared to his former Italian "measure made” shoes. Nevertheless, he had to do some sport with the other new cadets. After that, they were told, it was time to go, wash and clean their space and their uniform. They were taken to a big hall with many beds : their dormitory. They discovered their personal space : each new cadet was assigned to a bed in the middle of a row, which was to be his only personal space during his stay in Pearow juvenile boot camp. The bad was in fact only a narrow bunk with no cover and a very thin and very hard pillow. They found underneath their bed a big box, without lock, where they had to keep all the things they were allowed to have. Inside the box, they founds additional uniform items. DI Robert told them that since they had probably slept in their new uniform, they had to change now to undies and so take the dirty uniform to the washing room where they would also find an iron. They also had to make their boots shining since they were going to meet the Chief DI. They should not forget to wash and be very clean : DIs would inspect them at the end. DI Robert did not forget his weak element, Johnny, and told him :
"Cadet 205.536, I know you don't like it here and want to get out, but since you are going to meet the Chief DI you will be able to tell him all that. If you want him to listen to you, you might as well be clean and in a clean uniform”
At 06:30, the new cadets were lead to the mess hall where they lined up as told before, in the utmost silence. Each received a mess tin full of something undescribable, a spoon and a tin beaker full of black coffee. They were lead to a table where they had to wait till the DIs told them to sit and eat. After 10 minutes they had already to stand up. The new cadets were now going to be introduced to the Chief DI who would decide what type of work each of them would have to do. DI Robert told them how to introduce themselves to the Chief DI : "Chief, cadet phase one number (then their number) reporting as ordered, Chief”. Not a word more or less, and certainly not their name : this would result in a punishment. The Chief DI might use their name if he wanted, but they were not allowed to do so.
The seven new cadets were waiting, at ease, in front of the Chief DI's office when two other cadets joined them. These cadets were those who bragged that they would be "rulers” because they had already been there. They did not have the same uniform : a uniform with black and white horizontal stripes, a simple pair of trousers, no vest but a sort of sweatshirt, no cap but a round hat also striped ! The boys had no boots but were wearing clogs without socks. Most important, they were still in shackles. The DI leading them told the other new cadets : "This is what could happen to you, so try to benefit from the opportunity you have to be reeducated while being simply cadets !”
After a long waiting time, Johnny was called in the Chief DI' office. He chose to introduce himself in a "personal” way :
"Chief this is Johnny Merion sent here because he had a bad lawyer and I want to place an appeal”
The Chief DI replied rather severely : "Cadet 205.536, I heard you created problems during intake. It is enough with this nonsense. Juveniles don't have the right to appeal and your parents are not here to do so. You are cadet phase one 205.536 and nothing else until I decide to move you to phase two. You will learn immediately to address yourself to the DIs in a proper way.”
"But, I just want to exert my constitutional right, and you are not …”
"Stop it cadet 205.536. You must learn to respect your superiors. In order to teach you how to do it, I place you on the group of cadets working on the road : you will learn what it means to work hard in order to get your food !”
Suddenly Johnny seemed to remember how he was supposed to speak to a DI, at least partially: "Chief, you can not do that, this cadet has been sentenced to a re-education in a juvenile boot camp, not to hard labor, Chief. I cannot accept that !”
"So, 205.536, you refuse to work ! Do you at least know what ADT means ?”
Johnny felt that it became serious and replied, suddenly apparently respectful, "Chief, No, Chief”
"Well,” explained the Chief DI, "ADT stands for ‘Additional Detention Time' and it is left to the sole authority of the Chief DI to give an ADT to a cadet who does not behave well.” Now Johnny was starting to be really afraid, not knowing what to expect. "ADT must be served first,” continued the Chief DI, "before the rest of the sentence. During that time a cadet is not allowed to communicate with anybody, parents or others, outside the camp. Did you understand all that, 205.536 ?”
A very anxious Johnny replied "Chief, Yes, Chief”
"That is great, because you just earned two ADT of 3 months each, one for refusing to work and the second for lack of respect towards your superior. Go now, and start working 205.536”
Johnny did not want to accept this extra punishment and said : "Chief, I don't want to stay in this filthy prison. I want to speak with my parents : it is my constitutional right to call them”
"Congratulations 205.536, you just gained an additional 3 months stay here as ADT for complaining about the institution, and on top of that 15 additional days in isolation, one in each of our cells, during which you are going to clean these cells in such a way that nobody is going to use the word ‘filthy' about my boot camp anymore. Now go, otherwise you will get more and more ADTs and you will never be able to communicate with your parents.”
Once again, Johnny was knocked out by the sudden punishment. He left the Chief DI office, was taken to the cells block by DI Robert who gave him the necessary cleaning material before showing him in the first cell. DI Robert told Johnny "I will come several times during the day and check your progresses, do your best the Chief DI will come tomorrow : if he is not satisfied with your work, you might get more ADT. So start immediately to clean this cell”
And that is exactly what Johnny did, not because he really wanted the cell to be clean, but because he was afraid of the consequences of an unsatisfactory cleaning. While cleaning, Johnny realized that because of his stupid idea of driving his mother's car, he was now locked in this camp for at least 9 months and 15 days, without having the possibility to warn his parents or to call them for help, and all that on top of the one year sentence he wanted to appeal. He did not know that the Chief DI, warned by DI Robert the day before of the "haircut rebellion” had contacted Johnny's father who agreed that a long stay in juvenile boot camp might be good for Johnny ! In fact Johnny's father had told the Chief DI: "I was too busy working and did not take care of my son, my wife was weak with him and he now risks to become a real bad boy. I am thankful to the state for trying to discipline him, even you have to take severe steps to bring our Johnny to his senses.”
Johnny worked hard, cleaning the cells. It was probably the first time in his life that he actually worked : there had always been servants to do the job for him at home ! During his first day he was inspected several times by DI Robert. Several times he was told that his work was not satisfactory and that he had to do pushups and start again. The boy finally he took no time to think about his new situation. He received some food in his cell, not being allowed to go outside not even for sport or meals. The next morning, he was inspected by the Chief DI who simply said: "205.536, you can go to the next cell”. This scenario was repeated during 15 days altogether: arriving in the morning in a cell, starting to clean it ferociously to avoid problems when inspected, eating, washing and taking care of his uniform in the cell and then moved to another cell. After his 15 days extra punishment, he was finally allowed to rejoin the other cadets.
He discovered the big room in which the cadets lived, slept, were allowed sometimes to speak when they were not working for the company owning Pearow juvenile boot camp. The hall was huge and full of cadets: each had his bed, his box, his place during day and night and thus his neighbors with whom he was allowed to speak during one hour a day. Day after day he discovered his environment : always the same. So he started to think. Before he had his privacy, and now he was under constant supervision. Before he had his own room where he was alone and now he was there in one single big hall with cameras and DIs observing him permanently. Before he had his own cupboards with all his clothes and another cupboard with all his electronic toys and now he had only one small bunk and underneath one single box. Before he had many clothes and shoes, and now he had only two sets of uniform, four undies, two pairs of boots and socks and one ridiculous cap. Before he could change every day pajama, and now he had to sleep in his undies. Before he had servants to take care of his bed and his clothes, and now every morning he had to wash the set of uniform he had worn the day before, place it in the dryer and then iron it during the evening free time. Before the servants made sure that his shoes were clean, and now he had to make them perfectly shining every evening before bedtime. Before he had good food ready for him whenever he wanted, and now he had something he could not really identify, which did not taste that good, at specific moments, at a specific place and according to a specific discipline. And Johnny realized how much he had lost, but he did not think it was his fault but the fault of this bad judge and of these nasty DIs, especially the Chief DI whom he really hated.
Each week, Johnny, and the other phase one cadets, was sent to the barber to have his head kept 100% shorn, then to the cold shower, then to the disinfection cabin and finally to the measuring cabin, in order to keep track of his size. This was the only rupture in a well organized routine.
Johnny had been placed in a group of cadets serving some time on hard labor. Every morning he was chained to another cadet, never the same to avoid contacts between detainees, they left the camp in a small group with three DIs and were lead to a road which they had to clean. It was a hard and tiring job, always the same. Johnny hated this job because it was tiring, hard and repetitive. He considered that the other cadets working with him were all stupid, and that he was the smartest. He even thought that the Chief DI had punished him more than needed because he (the Chief DI) was jealous of his intelligence. So Johnny conceived a method to protest against the system. He hated his uniform and did everything he could to wear it as badly as possible : he washed and ironed his uniformed, because he had to, but he did it badly, leaving a stain or a crease. He also decided that it was intelligent to show that he he was still an individual by distinguishing himself in the way he wore his uniform : buttons badly fastened, or even one button not fastened at all, and of course boots not really shining and loosely attached. The DIs noticed that negative attitude. After the end of his first month of his first ADT, Johnny received a first warning, but he did not care. A few days later he got a second warning, but he did not try to remedy to his bad habits and wanted to remain "an individual” with respect to the uniform. Two days later he was summoned to the Chief DI's office where the Chief told him : "205.536, you want to look funny with your uniform ? That is fine with me : you just earned another ADT, which makes four specially for you. You will work during that time and your pay will be for Pearow juvenile boot camp, and not for you. You will also spend 5 days in special isolation, again on top of your first sentence: that means that you will be there in undies without shoes, so you won't have to take care about your uniform. I suggest you think about this : you have been sentenced to one year in boot camp, and you already got 4 ADTs of 3 month each, plus 15 days cleaning the cells, and now 5 days in special isolation. That means, cadet 205.536, that you will spend more time here for bad behavior than for your initial speeding ticket. If you want to continue like that, it is OK with me. But you must realize that you are going from now on to be inspected every morning. The slightest problem with your uniform will offer you another ADT and it will offer this company another 3 month of your work. Dismiss and go to your cell.”
Johnny left the Chief DI's office and went to a cell, as ordered. During 5 days he was there in his undies and since he was alone and had nothing else to do, he started thinking about his future. He now understood that despite his father's money he was in boot camp for a very long period of time and that rebelling further would only place him in a worse situation : the power was on the DIs and Chief DI's side ! So Johnny decided to behave as if he had accepted the situation, as if he had fully understood the lesson and was ready to behave definitely better in the future. When he came out of isolation, he was sent back to his former work group and obeyed all the orders. His uniform was always neat, clean and well ironed, and his boots were shining. But it was obvious that he hated his uniform and the boot camp discipline. The DIs, especially DI Robert who had been trained for that, could see through the mask of submissiveness Johnny was placing on his face, the mask behind which he was now hiding. The DIs kept putting the pressure on Johnny by inspecting him constantly, on his work and during his free time, but also by sending him every week to the barber and get there his head shorn again, if there was little or no hair to cut. The worst came when Johnny noticed that all the boys who had been with him in the transportation van, were now phase two cadets and had graduated to the blue uniform. Some of them had even finished their time in Pearlow boot camp and had been released, while he had succeeded to double the time he had to stay there.
Usually cadets remained only 6 weeks in phase one, and had to do hard labor only during that period. Some hardened cadets remained longer. Johnny remained lots of times: his stay was something like a record long stay, but the DIs would not let him off before they had broken him and molded into a better man.
After a certain time, Johnny was physically changed, but having no mirror he could not know it. He had in fact benefited of the food (even if it was not good to taste, it was well selected) and of the sport time, plus the training provided by his hard work. Johnny did not realize all that, but the DIs knew it, among other elements they had the measures taken and adjusted every week.
One day Johnny broke down one evening and started to cry again as if he was still a very little boy. He was 16 now and still strictly controlled as if he had been a very young boy, or worse a young dog kept on a leash (but here the leash was the threat to get another ADT for any misdemeanor). DI Robert saw the scene, concluded that Johnny had come to a turning point in his life : DI Robert very wisely wanted to advantage of the situation by offering the crying boy a little bit of privacy in order to let him think outside the permanent noise of the big dormitory-living room. So DI Robert sent Johnny, who did not even react, to the cells block and let him spend one night in isolation without additional time to serve. DI Robert gave no explanation for this order and Johnny obeyed without asking his eternal "Why me ?”. While in isolation, the boy had time to evaluate the situation. He decided then to stop his fight and try to adjust to life as it was imposed on him.
That was the moment when Johnny started to think positively. He kept thinking "I am here for two years, I don't want to stay a minute more”. In fact he had already served 5 months out of his 24 ! He obeyed all orders, even the unpleasant ones the DIs gave him purposely to test him, and he did so without any protest anymore. But he was not yet ready to consider that such a well and positively oriented way of life should be his way of life for after the boot camp. Nevermind, a change started to occur inside Johnny : as he behaved better, he was nearly never more punished and he felt that this attitude was simply easier to live with. Very slowly DI Robert released the pressure on Johnny and after 7 months in the boot camp, Johnny was sent once more to the Chief DI.
Johnny entered the office and introduced himself in the prescribed way :
"Chief, this is cadet phase one number 205.536 reporting as ordered, Chief”
For the very first time this introduction came in a fluent and natural way, as if it had now become an automatism for Johnny
The Chief DI congratulated Johnny on his good behavior and told him that he was now cadet phase 2 and should go to the clothing room to get his blue uniform. Johnny, still standing at attention, would have liked to thank the Chief DI and tell him how pleased he was to be placed in a more relaxed situation, but something inside him made him feel that it would be bad to say one single word. He could nevertheless not avoid a happy smile and the Chief DI understood that Johnny was finally starting to be tamed.
The Chief DI added that his blue uniform was already waiting for him since they had his measurements through the data gathered every week in the measurement cabin. During these 7 months of what Johnny considered "bad treatments and bad food”, Johnny had grown a lot and thanks to the sport activity, he was now in much better shape, but he was not yet ready to admit all of that and adopt definitely this way of life !
The Chief DI added that Johnny would keep working till he had finished the total of his ADTs, in order to be fruitful for the boot camp and bring money with his job, but that as soon as he had served his ADT time, he would be allowed to go back to school. His job, from now on, would also be a less tiring one, except if he misbehaved again : in that case he would be reduced to phase one again. The Chief DI reminded Johnny that it had taken him 7 months to graduate from phase one to phase two, while others did it in six weeks and were out of boot camp after 3 months: Johnny had still 17 months to serve and during the first 5 months of that remaining time, he was not allowed to communicate with his parents. The Chief DI also warned Johnny against any attempt to use his new situation to try to communicate with the outside world before he would be allowed to do so. The Chief DI told Johnny that a cadet had asked a leaving cadet to "pass a word” for him and that both cadets, the one who asked to pass a note and the leaving cadet had received for that a 3 months ADT. Both had been placed back to phase one. The boot camp discipline was strict until the very last minute. He then dismissed Johnny.
Johnny saluted in the military required fashion, turned in a perfect about-turn and left the office without a word.