The sad case in here is the rapist’s ex-celly, a young man who was discharged from the service after having spent time in Iraq. He is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and has simply been unable to find his way. The word around the campfire is that he doesn’t even know why he is here. Niko tells me, having been in G mod, that he didn’t even know the serial rapist was his celly; sounds to me like this guy needs to be in Walter Reed, not Solano County. Perhaps that is theconsequence of budget cuts. That’s just sad, a traumatized vet injail rather than a hospital.
I had planned to go to the “yard” this morning during “unlock”, but again Office Weary is the bearer of bad knews. He informed me that unfortunately, we don’t have access to it. That makes five times in the last six weeks. Ms. Jones, in classification, was admonishing me on the importance of eating and exercising “at my age in order to prevent muscle wasting.” I wonder if she knows they’re the ones preventing the access to the gym.
Snoopy seemed particularly crazy this morning. My fear was that he had been drinking Pruno. He was bouncing off the walls; he was clearly a lot more animated than usual. I still don’t know how they accomplish making alcohol in their cells without the guards knowing. I guess people will find a way to do whatever it is they choose to do.
Incidentally, the “voice” is back on the intercom. The high-pitched shrill that is Officer Finnegan, the one who always says more than is necessary and always as condescendingly as she can muster. She must be back from vacation or witches’ school. Today she informed us four times that “the floor officer, personally, required that everyone have socks on”. She said it four times, not so much that we would have that information, but, more importantly, so that she could hear herself talk. It was Officer Weary’s fetish, which over time had become the rule. As I said before, the rules change according to the whims of the guards.
A lot of guys come out of the shower in their plastic/rubber slippers. They allow their feet to dry before putting their socks back on, or they wait until they are back in the cell. It is a minor point but has become a point of contention for Weary. It is just one more way to harass us over nothing. Who puts on socks and then steps back into wet shoes? And one pair of slippers was all you had. Finnegan simply delighted in adding one more layer of insult. I suspect her of atrocities because of the things she says when she thinks no one is listening. On Thursday, Oct. 1, at 12:10 p.m. she came on the intercom. H mod is overcrowded and we have six people sleeping on cots in the day room. The cots are 12 inches off the floor but inmates in the day room are expected and harassed by the guards to stay on them all day, at all times. Try sitting all day 12 inches off the floor. Finnegan says, “Mr. Pena, Mr. Pena, who lives on the floor; get ready, you’re going to court soon.”
Mr. Pena doesn’t live on the floor. Mr. Pena is a human being being victimized by being forced to stay on the floor in an overcrowed jail. Mr. Pena is not convicted of a crime (except probably being broke in the worst depression of our time and not being able to afford bail). That’s why he’s going to court; he has been convicted of no crime. Until a court convicts him of a crime, Mr. Pena is innocent. Why must he also suffer the degradation from a civil servant?
Simply informing Mr. Pena that he was going to be transported to court and needed to be ready was all that was required. I think Mr. Pena knew he was living on the floor, and now so does everyone else.
And just to make sure I wasn’t being overly critical, she did it again. At 12:40 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2009, one hour later, she repeated the insult: “Mr. Pena, Mr. Pena, who lives on the floor, let’s go. It’s time to go to court.”
I do feel at times that I have been too harsh on the guards. But the ease with which some of them dispense their whimsical, perverted rules is abominable. Their supervisors tolerate it because all fish stink from the head. And while I and my colleagues may be none better, I relish in the realization that it is they who after all have the choice. We are only responding to their lead. They have all the power and they choose to be assholes.
I have spent the greater part of the day in reducing my meager belongings into something I can carry in anticipation of my release tomorrow morning. I awarded Niko pens, paper, and nonperishables. I’ll get Snoopy the toiletries.
As best as possible I have avoided any contact with the guards, and frankly, I do not harbor any special distaste for any of them, I just want to leave them behind. There attitudes and behaviors are best catergorized for what they are and forgotten. No one should carry that type of memory, or better yet acid, with them.
I seriously doubt that Solano County will serve as a shining or defining moment in my life, but I did learn a number of things about living, and about myself, that I will take with me as I leave to rebuild or rather re-create my life.
With the addition of some new fish, there are now seven guys sleeping on the floor in H mod. Seven more than the mod is designed to accommodate. I look at them and I shake my head sadly. I realize that part of me may never leave here. That I will not only take with me what I’ve learned, but that I must also acknowledge that I leave behind a part of me. I feel some compassion toward my colleagues, and I wish better things for them all. I smile at the camaraderie: the passing of hot water under a door clandestinely hidden in a tortilla bag in order to make a hot cup of coffee.
KC had pulled me aside during “unlock”. He asked that we keep in touch and gave me his home address and number on a torn piece of paper. “It was a pleasure to meet you,” he said.
“I wish it could have been under better circumstances,” I thought. But in reality the circumstances are better any time you can make a friend, and in here, one desperately needs friends.
“We’ll keep in touch,” I assured him. “I have your address.” I hope that’s true, though I know a lot of these people will fade with time as this experience gets further behind me. Life is like that and perhaps that’s the way it should be. “What is life?” the poet Seneca said, “except a preparation for death.”