One encounters an arsenal of new, generally unusable-in-polite-company sayings within the first few weeks of spending time at Homeboy Industries. A small sampling of the overheard:
"Yo, what bank you messing with??" where I might say, "Where do you bank?"
"Can I f*** with your tape for a minute?," a variation on "Lemme hit that stapler"
In response to a query about a speech given at a recent event: "I kept it short, but brief"
And my favorite, which has been proven through extensive googling to actually be a word, albeit one used entirely out of context at Homeboy: "supposably," as in "Well, SUPPOSABLY I forgot to pay my taxes..."
One Homeboy who defies this trend of unusual usage is Saul, an 18 year old who will blatantly ignore the dress code of a Homeboy Industries shirt and jeans, often showing up in near professorial garb-- argyle sweater vests over button downs, garnished with heavy gold chains that really top the look off. One day his normally slicked-back hair magically transformed into corn rows during work.
Lately Saul has been coming into the office making declarations like "I CONCUR!" and pausing for a moment to let us absorb the gravity of his declaration. Then he'll say "that means: I agree," and walk out. One vocab word recently was"hyperbole" and another "consensus."
Saul casually mentioned to me once that what he likes most about Homeboy is that it feels like a family here, because, in his words, "I've been in and out of juvie for so long, and I've never really had a home.. or a family."
Last week, Saul was on the bus on the way to work. Sitting next to him, as he put it, was "a rich guy with a fancy cellphone."
Saul asked the man if he could look at the phone, played with it for a few minutes, and then gave it back. Entirely normal. The thing is, Saul used to get in trouble for having "sticky fingers"- he'd ask to see things in this way and then fly off of the bus with the cellphone or wallet in hand.
He was proud of himself, now, for having given the phone back, with a warning to the man; "you probably shouldn't just let kids like me see your stuff... they might take it, ya know?"
For the rest of that day, Saul's vocabulary word was "integrity."