Nexter Sebilla was killed in Solano County Jail just the other day. There was a brief notice in the Fairfield newspaper. I didn’t know Nexter Sebilla, but the end of his life highlights just how dangerous it is in here, and that’s something you can’t ever forget. If you allow yourself to relax, even for a moment, it could be you. Guys in here get furious over some of the most ridiculous things…I guess that’s all they got, but what a waste.
Apparently Nexter and his bunky had a fight. Rather than separate them, the guards put them back in the same cell overnight. The following morning Nexter could not be aroused for breakfast, and was pronounced dead at the scene. His bunky has not been formally charged with his death, but apparently everyone else in the room did the math.
I still marvel at the simple elegance of my bunky. I am also fascinated by his exploration of things American, things unfortunately I have come to take for granted. Today, in the newspaper was a picture of Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor being sworn-in. “Why is she swearing on the Bible?” Niko asked.
I was at first confused. “What do you mean?”
“The other day,” he began, “there was this young girl in school saying she wanted to thank God for her award, and the people told her she couldn’t do that… that you cannot pray in school? So why is this judge swearing on a bible?
Now I understood him quite well. The question wasn’t really about Sotomayor and the Bible. The question was really about hypocrisy.
“Well,” I said, “America is really a Christian country…that’s what the founding fathers intended. But in order to guarantee the citizens religious freedom, a reason many of them had come here, the constitution sort of forbids religious persecution. The separation of church and state, allows for all types of religions to function freely in America. But we’ve become a little bit two-faced or dishonest on the matter. Liberals arguethe state shouldn’t engage in any of that, but tradition necessitates the ‘swearing in of judegs, and therefore the presence of the bible. Theoretically, you’re correct. Sotomayor shouldn’t be swearing on the Bible. It represents a commitment in the eyes of God, but I guess, it could just as easily have been a Koran, though most of America would have gone crazy over that.
Suffice it to say that America, perhaps should declare Christianity the ‘official’ religion, with tolerance, or stop using the bible altogether.”
He sort of shook his head. I understood why, my explanation didn’t make much sense to me either. Nevertheless, he just let it go.
I have also been doing a lot of soul searching lately myself. It is long over-do. The other day, Corey, said to me, “Adams, can you do me a favor?”
I immediately began to pull back and in a sense, become confrontational. “What, Corey?” I asked.
Almost apologetically he asked, “Can you have your people call my mom and have her put some money on my books?”
Frankly, I felt imposed upon. Ididn’t want to do it; but there also was really no reason for my posture except that Corey was constantly asking for favors all day long. But the fact is this was meanness on my part. I was becoming like my surroundings: angry and tired of people. I don’t want them asking me for shit. There are times when people are too much and I just don’t want to be bothered. In the past I had completely suppressed those types of feelings. They are an antithesis to whom I want to be and certainly contrary to my decision to become a doctor. Maybe I’m just tired. I’m done with people (and that can happen easily in here) make no doubt about it, but I recognize it as wrong. I’ve got to be aware of it and head it off before my emotions escalate.
Corey is perhaps retarded, or mentally challenged if you will, and somewhat of a pest, but he has a great heart. What I’m really feeling is my own stress. I guess on the outside you go the gym, or hang out with friends, but in here you deal with it, and maybe that’s good. The revelation is simply that you can’t do it all, so put things in perspective.
Besides, I was planning to make a call to my mother and sister that day at ‘unlock” anyway. And when I did get them on the phone, I felt embarrassed. My response highlighted just how angry and crazy I must have become. Not only was it not a big deal for them, my mom considered it an honor to do so. Why would you not help Corey out? My sister sort of chuckled and said, “Maybe we’ll let Mom do it, she likes that sort of thing,” and my Mom was happy to do it. She just wanted the particulars. It never remotely ever crossed their minds, either of them that this was an imposition or something they wouldn’t do.
I was ashamed of myself. Was that who I had become? Why would I resist the opportunity to help somebody, and worse yet, be mad over it? And all of that didn’t happen in here.
I know in my heart that it was also the result of having had to deal with plastic surgery patients. Corey had triggered a response in me of something I had yet to resolve about cosmetic surgery patients. I had grown to hate the fact that no matter what you did for them, no matter how far out of your way you went to help them; it was never enough because they, perhaps the majority of them, were ungrateful, period. They had gotten to me insidiously, but I had allowed it to build raher than resolving how I felt, and that was a problem. If that’s where they’ve got me, I need to walk away from being a doctor, or at least the unreasonableness of cosmetic surgery patients. I don’t want to resent people. I want to be like my mother and sister, happy for the opportunity to help, but I guess the opportunity to help had become an obligation, and it was at that point that it ceased to be fun.
The needs of other people had taken over my life. That is never healthy. I had experienced it as a surgical resident on call every other day, every other weekend for five years. I’m not complaining about the time, I loved being a resident, life was simple then: You went to work and you read about medicine.
The problem is that while you’re in the OR or the hospital – which is always – life, is passing you by.
After my conversation with my mother and sister, I resolved that I would do better. So I pulled Corey aside and asked for the particulars of what he wanted done. He asked that we – meaning someone on the outside – call his aunt and relay the message that he needed money. I got the particulars from him and with him standing next to me at the phone; I relayed them to my Mom. They included his aunt’s name and number and the fact that he wanted her to put money on his books for the commissary.
After we had hung up, Corey thanked me, and went about his usual day of borrowing whatever foodstuffs he could: a shot of coffee, here, a dry soup, there.
I talked with my Mom the following day and it turned out Corey had given us an incorrect phone number… imagine that.
Of course her solution was to put twenty dollars herself on Corey’s books until he could reach his family. I reminded her that Corey had been here for more than a year and that this was an ongoing thing. At any rate, we agreed it was the “Christian” thing to do.
And just to complicatematters I made the mistake of relaying to Corey that we couldn’t get through, he needed to check the number – and that, when she came to visit, my Mom would put 20 bucks on his books. Corey gave me his traditional thank you and pat on the back that he reserves for his intimate “barterers” and reserved a wide grin for me each time he walked past during the remainder of the unlock. With five minutes remaining in the unlock, the tower guard announced it was time to return to our cells; before I could get the door closed Corey stuck his head in and whispered, “Hey, Adams, you think she can do that today so I can make commissary tomorrow?”
I had just spoken to Corey less than 30 minutes earlier. He saw me relay the message through the phone. Corey is dense, but he is quite adept at knowing what he wants. “I don’t think it’s going to happen today, Corey,” I said, “Maybe not even tomorrow, but it will happen the next time she comes out here.”