Question: Why are some people more compassionate than others?
Answer: They serve their community nobly.
Every now and then you run into someone whose job is a stunning reflection of community service. Sometimes they’re a couple.
Brooke and Jamie Bugg came from Monroe, Georgia to Williamsburg for their wedding anniversary. She said, “We work different shifts, so it’s hard to get together. I teach in a school division next to the one where our kids go to school, so that’s difficult too. I have to take a trip every three months, and this is it.” They trouped through Colonial Williamsburg and soaked it all in. “We could spend a week there.”
Neither of them had been on a sailboat before. When I put Brooke on the helm, she said, “I’m a little nervous. ‘Jesus, take the wheel.’ That’s from Carrie Underwood.
“I’ve taught kindergarten for 17 years. The class size ranges from as high as 27 last year to 19 currently. We don’t have para-pros any more, the assistants who help out with the children. They got cut in the budget. We can spot children who are developmentally challenged, but they often aren’t identified until first or second grade. Some parents are in denial.” At the other extreme, “Some parents use the disability to get more benefits out of the system than they’re entitled to so they can make money on their child. That’s terrible, but what can you do?”
Jamie is a lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Department and a supervisor at the Monroe jail. As an accomplished hunter, he sought out the new rifle range at Colonial Williamsburg. “He shot 8 out of 10 bullseyes,” Brooke said proudly and showed me a photo of the targets. They were images of five colonial mugs, and not the mug of King George III as originally proposed. People in the community thought that was over the top.
“You shoot what’s called a ‘low load,’” Jamie explained, “with half the powder they might normally use. Plus the caliber of the bullet is slightly reduced to .69 for a bore of .70. That way, the recoil isn’t too bad. You have to reload each time, so they have everything laid out pre-made. You get to light the primer and wait. The shot is not instantaneous like today’s rifle. The accuracy isn’t great because these muskets were before they developed the bore in the rifle to spin the bullet more accurately. That didn’t happen until the Civil War. We were shooting from 25 yards away.
“They drive you to the place, for security reasons. I never fired a flintlock before, and you just don’t get that opportunity. They said they’ve been talking about a rifle range since the 1940s, but it took the new management to actually put it in place. We had one instructor for every two shooters.”
Jamie gets all kinds of prisoners at the jail, “everything from drunks to felonies. They’re coming and going to court for arraignment or trial, so you have to be careful with them. Some of the young ones are pretty smug and sassy. If they go to prison, that’s a different story. Then the state owns their ass.”
His jail has a special medical section for detox. “They’re coming off meth or cocaine. Alcohol is the worse to detox, since that can actually kill you. The others are in agony for a few days, but it won’t kill them. We have this one fellow, very big at 6 feet 2 and 290 pounds. It takes three handcuff sets to cuff him behind his back because he’s so broad. His dealer apparently had some fun by putting angel dust in his cocaine, and that about drove him crazy in detox.
“They don’t have much in the way of education or work opportunities. I’m all for ‘Cool Hand Luke’ where you put them on a road gang to fix the highways. Unfortunately, we’ve found that the recidivism rate in George is 73 percent. They won’t straighten out until they improve themselves by associating with a better class of people. They have to want to go straight.” Left unsaid was that’s it hard to associate with a better class of people while incarcerated.
I asked where they had vacationed that surprised them. Brooke said, “Edisto Beach, South Carolina, was wonderful. Our teenagers hated it because there was no WiFi, so their computers wouldn’t work. But our nine-year-old Lucy loved it. It only has one general store, no shops. There are a lot of retired people living there. They said there was one live birth last year, and it was the first in 12 years. It’s illegal to pick up shells, and they have shell police who will fine you $470 for a violation. Signs warn you not to pick up shells.”
I contemplated the shell police as a low point in one’s law enforcement career. “They’re volunteers,” Jamie clarified. We got to talking about vigilante movies, and he preferred “Law Abiding Citizen” starring Jamie Foxx. “I think everyone should carry a gun. It acts as a deterrent against the bad guy.”
How come you don’t hear about grand theft auto any more? “Drugs are much more profitable, and you’re less likely to get caught than if you steal a car. Ever since the 1980s, you can’t hot-wire a car. You used to be able to pop the ignition to get to the wires, but no longer.”
We sailed over the Yorktown to see where Brooke and Jamie planned dinner that evening. Then we sailed near the Coleman Bridge and headed home.
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