just trying to finish getting all this put up here.
| Well, It's Wednesday, day 13, about ten minutes before seven am. We just returned from chow. I felt the Eggs Florentine to be a bit dry, but after a few Mimosas no one no one seemed to mind all that much.
I assume I'll be heading down to medical soon. They have decided I should have blood pressure checks -- I'm not sure why. The two I've recieved so far read 122/74 and 118/78 respectively. Fortunately I only have to be inconvienenced with these (in my opinion, unnecessary) checks for a couple months. I fear they'll put me on some sort of medication for blood pressure. I, of course, don't need any, but I haven't needed anything else they've done either. But I'm staying hopeful and positive -- perhaps this week it will be discoverd that Percocet is the new miracle blood pressure drug. I shouldn't question their professionalism. The medical expertise here is evident in the epidemic number of Staph infections roaming around unquarantined and even unbandaged. I'd feel more comfortable undergoing brain surgery in the hands of a near-sighted monkey with Parkinson's Disease.
I'm not writing as often now as before. Mainly because I've explained the routine and every day is basically the same. I only feel inclined to write when something new or different occurs. Also I've been spending alot of time trying to develop my mutant super powers. As soon as I perfect the technique of walking through walls, I'm so out of here. So far not much luck, just a bloody nose and a bump on the head. I though about flying, but I'd still have to get outside first; and, again, they won't let me out no matter how politely I ask. They even passed on asking me a riddle to gain exit -- probably because they can sense how good at riddles I am. They are a keen lot.
Well, it's about ten oclock now. Dreary and rainy outside, overcast, looks cold. As I stood at the window looking out across the street at the dismal, sad warehouse parking lot and thinking how just yesterday in the bright sun it looked like a regular, sad warehouse parking lot the gentleman standing next me made the comment "Good day to be locked up, huh?" And that, dear reader, is the second greatest misconception I have borne witness to in thirteen days. What is the first, you ask? Thank you for asking. I'll tell you.
My very first day of incarceration; after the judge aurally raped me by forcing words into my ears that I did not wish to voluntarily accept, and the balif gingerly and lovingly ripped me of pride, freedom, and dignity, I sat next to another upstanding citizen in the holding cell as we awaited transfer to whatever facility we were to be taken. He, being apparently much more accustomed to this process than I, was educating me on the pros and cons (no pun intended) of each potential facility. After a few moments of discussion, he stated "Maybe they'll send you to Butler, you'll LOVE it there." Normally when someone is obviously much more knowledgeable than I of a given subject, I tend to accept and trust what they tell me of the subject; however, I could not just blindly agree with this particular judgement of my affinity. Now, I have never been to Butler, nor have I ever spoken with anyone who has, but I am assuming there are no Tahitian princesses giving daily massages after the cricket matches on the back lawn. So unless the drinking fountains at Butler are tapped to a beer keg and the chow hall offers "Surf and Turf Friday", I somewhat doubt I would have "loved it there". Once again I am amazed at the lowered expectations of the habitual criminal.
I, you see, do not habitually break the law. Society just decided, in some twist of evil irony, to make illegal all the things I enjoy doing. So either I or society has to change. And though I truly believe that one man can change society (and indeed has in the past), this particular man is not that motivated. I can't be waging a one man war against the prime movers simply to accomodate my haphazard lifestyle. Therefor, society, I concede. This time you have won -- but you must sleep sometime.
Turns out I'm not craving ciggarettes as much as I thought I would.... well shit, at least I WASN'T.
Day 14. Six thiry. Last night I decided to check out the Bible study and consequently recieved my first dose of jailhouse religion. My earlier assumption was proven correct -- last thing I needed. I never realized thugs and gangstas were so religious. Apparently, beyond all the hate tattoos and violent crimes, they are just God loving people. It's heartwarming.
I also lost my styrofoam cup. It was confiscated by a Fife who evidently was not in the know when it comes to the finer lines of contraband classification. Just as well, the powers of the cup were starting to urge me to do evil. I may never see styrofoam the same again.
Today is Saturday, March 31st. Tomorrow begins a new month in County. Most of the old crew have moved on or been released and new guys have migrated in to fill the voids. Every one is still pretty cool for the most part. No more fights yet, which is good as I no longer have a viable means of self defense without my styrofoam cup. Guess I'll have to fashion a shiv out of toilet paper and toothpaste. I've only been here a short time though it seems much longer, and I'm rapidly becoming one of the senior members here (an honor, I assure you). New guys are always asking me questions under the assumption I should everything about the inner workings of life in County. At first, I thought "Who do these guys think I am? Cool Hand Luke? The only guy to escape the Rock? O.J.? I'm just an average con like everyone else." Then a startling realization occured to me -- I know all the answers to their questions. Where can I get dope? Which guys are snitches? What's for dinner? I know it all, they should offer me a snitch bond.
I know what you're thinking -- "You wouldn't rat out your buddies, would you?" Well, with a very few exceptions, you're goddamn right i would. These guys are buddies in so much as the guy on the next bar stool is a buddy. You'll chat with him; laugh with him; hell, you'll buy him a beer -- but when the cops walk in and he hides his face, you don't know that asshole. There are a few here I'd protect, go to the hole for and they know who they are (I intentionally leave that part vague in case someone reads this and confronts me. I can say "No, dog, you know you're one of the few"). But for the most part it's all about self preservation. I will put MY balls on the line to save MY ass, and the rest of YOU can kiss either one. Now I know it must seem like I'm only looking out for number one. It may, in fact, even appear that I only care about myself. I assure you, it only seems that way because it is that way. But, before you judge me, remember, I'm not on "Survivor". I'm in jail. I don't have to form and alliance, play a game, outsmart the other guy. I don't have to trust any damn body. No one here is looking out for me. The inmates (with aforementioned few exceptions) don't care -- I'm just another con they have to live with. The guards don't care -- I'm just another con they have to work with. The judge and lawyer don't care -- I'm just another con they have to deal with. Society doesn't care -- I'm just another con period. Only I care. Only I live in my head, dream my dreams, fear my nightmares, live my mistakes, know my desires, and hope for my future. So in this particular situation, I care about me and me alone. And to all the inmates, guards, judges, lawyers, and society -- as Shakespear once said, "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke." (In retrospect, thay may not have been Shakespear.)
You have to be careful dealing with "The Man". Know your rights, know the laws, know the loopholes, and if possible be the shadiest weasel in the courtroom. One of the inmates here, nicknamed "Radio" due to similarities both physically and mentally of Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the movie of the same name, was convicted of burglary and sentenced to six months here in County. The story, as it goes, is this:
Radio was employed by a landscaping company and was mowing a residential lawn. A rock shot from underneath the mower and broke a window in the house. Radio, being kind hearted though a bit mentally deficient, entered the house and cleaned up the broken glass. While in the house, Radio realized he was hungry, went into the fridge and made a sandwich. That constitutes burglary -- and six months. No thought was given to criminal intent. My only solace is knowing that Radio doen't fully understand that he's being punished. To him, this is like summer camp. He is perhaps the happiest among us. Lessons can be learned from those who are unable to, or choose not to, put much stock into into the whole thinking scam.
On a lighter note, for those of you with a bit of a sophomoric sense of humor, someone deficated in the shower facilities today. There are ten toilets less than ten feet away and someone didn't make it. I must admit however that the highlight of my day was watching two Fifes running about the sixth floor in utter dismay yelling "Who shit in the fuckin' shower?!" These are moments money can't buy.
It's Monday, day something. The cycle continues. People leave, more issue in. One kid left yesterday evening for the hospital complaining of chest pains. This morning his bunk and locker were cleaned out, so he's not coming back. Rumor has it that he got hold of some bad crack in here. I believe it. One of the dealers questioned me shortly upon his arrival asking about his trustworthiness. They can smell a crack head in here, and are always looking for an opportunity to offload some poison product to the weak-in-despair for promises of an ungodly amount of snack cakes. Since I didn't really know the kid, and his bunk was in too close proximity to my own, I told the dealer he was "shady" and couldn't be trusted. I don't want such dealings going on in my back yard, brings suspicion on all of us. No matter how much you try to keep to yourself and avoid trouble, once you've been seen enough, you're marked and trouble will find you. Eventually you have to make decisions and choose sides and none is better than another; so you pick, hope, and wait and see. Jailhouse politics is a lose / lose situation. No choice is the right choice, no answer the right answer, and no matter what action you take - even inaction - you put yourself in someone's bad graces. If I'm ever in a situation like this again, I'm going to pretend I'm deaf from the outset. Perhpas then everyone will ignore me (with the exception of the rudimentary "sign" language we all learn at a young age).
Today marks a new beginning in so much as they come in a place like this. Today I recieved a detail. Basically what that means is I requested, and was subsequently granted, a job. What it means in more detail is I was moved to a calmer, more respectable floor. I am now on the third floor where everyone with a detail stays. Since everyone here has a job that they don't wish to lose, it's a bit easier going living wise. I will be doing an outside detail. I start tomorrow and don't know what to expect other than i need different shoes. The leather moccasins I was incarcerated in, though extremely comfortable, are not conducive to outdoor work. They tell me I'm to be a porter at the Justice Center. I dont know what that entails, but I'm told by a man who currently does the job that there are some fringe benefits and it's "the best job here", so naturally I feel like the luckiest man alive (with the exception, of course, of all those men alive who are NOT currently in jail), and I'm not quite so downhearted about not being sent to Butler where I "would have loved it".
Now that I reside on the third floor instead of the sixth, I must traverse considerably fewer stairs. I suppose this means that I can get back and forth from the bed I don't want to sleep in to the chow I don't want to eat much quicker and with less physical exertion. Also, my detail begins at five am which means that by the time I'm fully awake, my day's already half over; so maybe time will pass a bit quicker. The energy on this floor is also quite a bit different than on six. It seems more jovial, for lack of a better word. There is less tension in the air both among the inmates and between the inmates and the Fifes. Tonight we are all crowded together in front of the television for the NCAA basketball championship between Ohio State and Florida, so the spirit of sportsmanlike competition probably adds to the more high-spirited atmosphere. There are the expected jabs and razzes among the population here due to different folks rooting for different teams. Here on third floor, though, it seems more of a good-natured, hangin-with-the-guys exchange of ridicule; whereas on the sixth floor, I'm sure someone has already been stabbed with styrofoam for a Snicker's bar. Personally, I'm hoping to see Florida win over Ohio State, though I'm still too new to the floor to admit this out loud.
Well, It's now Wednesday, day twenty. Also, I've returned from the second day of my new detail. I wanted to wait at least two days before writing anything about the work so I didn't jump to a drastic conclusion (I hate to go back and change anything, and I can't afford an editor). Naturally, having worked the detail for a mere two days, I still don't have a complete understanding of all the ins and outs; but I feel safe formulating a vague assumption. I've learned a few things about myself over these two days. First and foremost, I like to work. I've always been a good worker but I always thought it was because I just subconciously assumed that hard work leads to a better job done leads to promotions leads to more money leads to cooler shit. I know now it must be more than that. I am working now for no personal gain whatsoever, monetary or otherwise; and yet I'm still a hard worker, willing to do the jobs no one else will -- and I should mention that part of my job includes public restroom so use your imagination ( think "jokes junior high boys would tell" if it helps). The work gets me out of GP (general population) for about twelve hours a day and there are some great perks -- so apparently there IS a degress of personal benefit. I can drink real coffee (not the instant kind the commissary sells which is always too weak because it's expensive and you have to make it last; nor the kind the chow hall serves which is NOT expensive since potting soil is cheaper than coffee and looks the same when filtered into a stained cup). I also can smoke ciggarettes now, which is a definate no-no to everyone except the Lieutenant. So the top dog is cool with it, but if we're caught the puppies throw a fit. But the Lieutenant is a smoker himself so it helps when the powers that be share your vices. Too bad alcoholic, video game junkies with an overflow of sarchasm and an ass fetish don't soar through the ranks of the police force or serving time for me would be smooth sailing -- hell, we could probably swing the Tahitian princesses and "Surf and Turf Friday" at Butler. But, alas, as i was once told in all seriousness "Life is not a frat party"... or maybe it was "Life should not be taken seriously" overheard at a frat party. Whatever it was, someone said something and I was probably drunk.
Another epiphany (I was bet that I couldn't use that word in a sentence) incurred over the past two days is I've discovered I'm scared of pain. Today I suffered the most amazingly excruciating headache I've ever had in my life. Maybe a migraine, I don't know, I've never had a migraine so I have no basis of comparison. I was even asked by another inmate "Do you get migraines?" And I said "I've never had one" to which his response was "Is this a migraine?" The conversation may as well have been "You ever seen a duck?" "No" "Is this a duck?" At any rate, my head hurt. The pain was unbearable but even worse was the fact that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I couldn't take anything for it, I'm in jail. I mean, I could have traded fifteen goodies for a tenth of heroin; but the ibuprofen market is bone dry in jails these days. And I was not about to go to the emergency room for a headache. I could have dealt with the pain if I had some sort of medication to take. I would have felt better with just the serenity of knowing I was doing SOMETHING for it. But the idea that the pain was going to be there well into the night terrified me. My co-workers eventually talked me into going to medical to see what was wrong. Allow me to illustrate what a thrill that was:
The first Fife I described my issue to told me to take the elevator to the second floor, and medical is to the right. I got on the elevator and was promptly chewed a new asshole via overhead speaker by a Fife who watched me through closed circuit video for being on the WRONG elevator. So I exited the elevator and the phantom Fife directed me to the correct elevator. I got on the correct elevator and was promptly chewed another new asshole via overhead speaker for being unescorted on an elevator period. I explained (looking up and yelling into random space like I was conversing with God) that I had only done what he directed me to do. He snapped "That was not me!! That was a DIFFERENT officer!!" Apparently I'm an idiot because I cannot differentiate, through a blinding headache, between two distorted voices blared into an elevator car via an overhead speaker. You'd think I'd confused James Earl Jones and Pee Wee Herman. So I exited the elevator and Fife number two sent me back to my detail to find a Fife to escort me to medical since I can't be on an elevator by myself. Now I'm back where I started, same blinding headache, twenty minutes later. Finally someone came and escorted me to medical. Upon arriving, the escort said to me "When done here secure elevator back work." .... What??... Me: "Excuse me?" Escort Fife: "WHEN... DONE ...HERE... SECURE... ELEVATOR... BACK ...WORK!!" I heard you, dipshit, I don't know what the hell that means. I could already envision the ordeal to come on my return to work. I'd be lucky if I didn't end up in a Mexican prison. No matter though, I had made it. I was finally in medical and prepared to be poked and prodded to whatever extent necessary to to get to the root of this vile headache. When my name was called, I approached the nurse and was handed two Tylenol. Two Tylenol.... I was beginning to become aware of the seeds that grew into our current Staph epedemic. So I politely asked "Don't you want to take some vitals or draw some blood or I and D my skull... anything?" The nurse informed me that the CO told her I needed Tylenol for a headache. The CO told her. The Fife. I'm curious if Dr. Fife made this diagnosis at first sight of me or if he took the time to consult his vast array of medical journals while his collegues were playing hide-the-convict in the elevator maze. Someone should inform him that a hospital will offer a fairer wage for practicing medicine as a doctor than the county pays for practicing medicine as a Fife. So here I sit, four hours later, with a much more tolerable throbbing in my head hoping Tylenol will cure Ebola or SARS or whatever it is that is making my brain swell. Perhaps when my ears start bleeding I can get some Q-Tips and a Vicodin.
The third, and probably least surprising, thing I've learned during this detail is that I'm retarded. I've spent the majority of this prose pointing out the mental shortcomings of others; so its high time I took the brunt of some ridicule myself.
You're probably thinking "No, Conn, you're one of the wise, one of the blessed. You aren't retarded." I know. Thanks. But listen...
Every day after work we are subjected to a strip search to ensure, I guess, that we aren't smuggling Pine Sol or dust mops up our asses. Today, after my search was completed (no roll of garbage bags stealthfully hidden under this scrotum, thank you very much) I was leaving the search area and one of the Fifes yelled out "Whose shoes and shirt are these?" Apparently someone had left a pair of shoes and a shirt lying about. As a reaction that I maintain was a product of the headache, I looked down at myself to ensure I was wearing shoes and a shirt. As if I were capable of walking around the halls of the jail half naked because donning my clothes had simply slipped my mind. As fate would have it, everyone witnessed this momentary lack of self-awareness; so my only recourse was to announce "It's not me, I've got mine right here!"
On a side note, not everyone conducting a strip search finds it as amusing as I do when you whisper "I promise I'll call you" at the end.
Well, dear reader, it is Easter Sunday, April eight, day 24. I have yet to recieve the card I assume you forgot to send; but I forgive you considering you couldn't have possibly read this prior to Easter as I hadn't written it yet. But if you and I are freinds or acquaintances then I hope you have a wonderful and memorable holiday. If we don't know each other, then I pretty much don't care. My Easter was fairly uneventful. No eggs, no basket, no dress. Perhaps later the Fifes will allow us to go up to the seventh floor and hunt for Easter crack. I know it's hidden up there, and not very well since they are getting caught with it about once a week so it should be fairly easy to find. I don't smoke crack, I just enjoy the holiday spirit of the hunt; so I'll probably just give what I find to the kiddies -- I'm a sucker when their eyes light up.
Sundays are extremely boring at the detail; pretty much like back at the jail -- sleep, eat, sleep, mop, sleep, mop, eat, sleep, go home. Although, we manage to throw in a ciggarette break before and after each leg of that journey.
Thursday evening. Day 41. I deeply apologize for not keeping you, faithful reader, up to date in almost three weeks; the reason being, as it turns out, I didn't want to. It isn't that I don't care (though I don't), but it's just that I'm in jail; so if I don't feel like writing, please allow me that small freedom.
Not much has happened in three weeks I must admit. Different music, different lyrics, different band, same song. The weather has been so beautiful that tomorrow I think I might call in free. "Hey boss, it's Conn. Can't make it to jail today, I'm coming down with a touch of freedom. I'll call back if anything changes." If you don't hear from me again, it means one of two things: they went for it, let me go free, and I said "piss on the rest of this story" OR they found it less than humorous and I'll get back to you when they let me out of the hole.
Well, glorious reader, let's fast forward a bit for the sake of time (and because my lazy ass hasn't written for a couple months). It is now June twenty something and I am in a treatment program. I suppose this is the leg of my incarceratory journey where I face my demons. This is where I admit my life is shit, I'm sucking hind tit face down in the gutter, and I am so broken and worthless that I can do absolutely nothing to better myself without the help of a room full of random others in just as bad or worse shape than myself. I am by no means bad mouthing treatment programs or support groups. That being said, let's cut to the chase about what's to come. No matter what I say from this point on, it is going to be the wrong thing. Unless I come out with both barrels blazing praise and adoration for every support system from AA to ZA (whatever ZA is, but I'm sure there is one -- check the internet) then you will crucify me for my personal opinion. That's all this is: my opinion. I'm not in denial, I'm not repressing, globalizing, projecting, or any other twelve-step word you want to paste on my forhead. I'm speaking to you, Society; I'm tired of tripping over your soapboxes. If someone hates fish -- won't eat it, dislikes the smell, won't go fishing, refuses to patronize seafood resturants -- that's no problem. Just someone who doesn't like fish. But replace "fish" with any other word or group like... oh, I don't know "treatment programs" or "gays" or "blacks" or "children" and all hell breaks loose. Now that the object of dislike has changed, all society is going to unravel. What are we teaching? Be yourself, make your own opinions, have your own ideas -- as long as they are like ours. Change the object and a simple matter of personal preference becomes a bigoted hate crime. The point I'm making is many of you will say "Oh, he has negative opinions about support groups. Now he's wrong and I hate him." And that's fine. Think anything you'd like. But I will do the same, and I expect no brow beating for it. Fogive me for my sarchastic view, but I have time putting much faith in a "stay off drugs" program that passes a med cart twice a day. I understand support programs help countless many people overcome troubles and that's absolutely wonderful. All I'm asking is please don't think I'm a nazi if I point out a few things that I personally find a bit ridiculous within addiction's miracle cure. After all, it's only my opinion, and I'm not perfect. Hell, the good folks here tell me I'm an addict, and they should know -- they've known me four days.
Well, devoted reader, yet another month has passed with no input on my part so I resign to the inevitable. The time has come to put this irregular piece of prose to bed. I have come to this conclusion for two prime reasons:
One - I'm growing weary of pointing out the myriad of basic faux pas occurring within this particular penal colony. They happen more and more each day, and my mind and writing hand are tired.
Two - As I mentioned, I'm in a treatment program and simple ethics (what little I have) prevent me from writing about anything that goes on here, regardless of how gut-bustingly ludicrous it may be. Folks come here under the impression they can be open and honest; free speaking with their deepest of secrets and have no fear of ill thought or repercussion. I, at least, will respect that misconception. Besides, I haven't exactly heard any tales of waking up naked next to a dead goat with a pill bottle in one hand and half a fifth of bourbon in the other. If I had, I'd share.
So, patient reader, it seems today, July ninth, this journey has come to an end. It has been most educational for me, and sharing with you has proven quite theraputic. I hope, for you, it has been at least less than painful. I have learned more from this experience than I anticipated (not the least of which is don't piss where you shouldn't) and I truly feel that I am leaving here a freer man than when I entered. So farewell, and I leave you with this: Others can easily dictate your actions if you allow them. Don't like it? Don't come to jail.