“I don’t see any lights on this thing.”
I was hidden behind the servers’ station at work when I felt the color drain from my face. I went from nervous to nauseous in a second. My co-worker, who delights in taking advantage of my gullibility by pranking me at every glimpse of opportunity he sees, looked up at me from where he knelt at my ankle bracelet. He wasn’t kidding this time.
I hurried out of my apartment yesterday morning without charging my home monitoring device. I’m required to charge it twice a day for about half an hour each time. My probation officer recommended in our first meeting that I plug in once in the morning, then once at night. There are three lights on the device- two on one side and one on the other.
I pay close attention to the light on one side, as it indicates battery power. When the light is green, it’s close to being fully charged, and yellow means it’s not. The other two, from what I understand, begin blinking when the explosive device is about to go off and sever my foot from my body to prevent me from leaving the perimeter. Just kidding. I don’t know what they mean.
The one battery light was green when I when I left in the morning. I assumed it would be fine, as I’ve waited longer than this before to charge when I’m staying home for the day.
When I settled in at work I was feeling a little nervous about it, so I lifted my pant leg to make sure that the light was still green. It wasn’t. It was yellow. I was working the closing lunch shift, so I had at least five hours or so before I would be able to get to the charger. I was fairly confident that it would last, but that didn’t stop my mind from immediately jump-cutting to every worst-case scenario that I could imagine. If my ankle bracelet lost power, would I go back to prison? No. That doesn’t make sense. They wouldn’t haul me back to the big house for just this. But, what if I do get a violation? What would happen? How is it that in this program you’re not even told what would happen? The fear of the unknown, oh, this could be very bad. I signed paperwork acknowledging that I am aware that I need to charge this thing twice a day… I was going to charge it twice though!! Just once right away when I got home, then once before bed… Is that going against what I agreed to? Oh God.
I could feel anxiety pulsing through my body as I continued my shift. I confessed to my friend what was going on, and he recommended that I call my probation officer to warn her that it might lose power. I really, really didn’t want to do that because I was still pretty sure that it would last, and it seemed like a good idea to avoid volunteering to her that I didn’t charge it before I walked out. So stupid to not have. Never again, never again.
On this program, it simply is not worth taking any risks. Better to be safe than sorry. Though I felt justified in that I was planning to charge it twice that day after work, it still ended up costing me a lot. I stepped away from the floor to leave a message with my PO to warn her that it might power down, and when my co-worker and I couldn’t see the light anymore, I panicked. My managers permitted me to leave early, but of course they weren’t happy about it.
I drove home as fast as I could, wondering what was going to happen to me. I kept looking down at my phone, waiting for it to come to life with a blocked call. Probation always seems to call from blocked numbers.
When I got home, I looked again at my ankle bracelet and saw a flicker of yellow light. For some reason, my co-worker and I hadn’t been able to see it when we checked at work. Relief. This meant that I wouldn’t be eligible for a probation violation, because it didn’t actually lose power. I still looked like an idiot in front of my PO though. I lost money at work and irritated my managers. On top of that, I put myself through an outrageous amount of stress. If I’d played it safe and charged that little bastard when I woke up, I would have avoided all of that.
For anyone reading this that is in a similar circumstance, I strongly recommend that you do everything that your PO recommends. Even if it’s not a set rule, like you must charge your bracelet upon waking and then again at a certain time. If they recommend that you do so- just do it. Trust me. It’s not worth putting yourself through what can happen if you don’t.
295 days to go.