70 Days (or so)

I’m well adjusted to Camp life now. Seems more like an all-male Jr. College campus between semesters, than a prison with criminals.

Actually I don’t think of anybody here as much of a criminal, even the guards.

Seems to me we all just somehow got swept up by the FBI + US Attys, who loom in most minds as the real criminals. Even the guys here on drug charges aren’t notable for any behavioral reason. I’m 60 plus and don’t find anybody threatening (again, besides the guards).

At this point, I’ve gotten to know or at least recognize the population so that it seems strange when guys leave, plus the new guys are now instantly recognizable as new.

There have been quite a few guys that have left here via “the hole”, or more correctly-the SHU (single housing unit) pronounced “shoe”. A variety of behaviors will get you there. Usually it’s getting caught with contraband-cigarettes and cell phones mostly; less frequently alcohol or pot. Anything perceived as “getting smart” with a a guard also gets you there. The guards especially show little patience with foreigners who don’t respond quickly enough to English instructions.

Figured out what it costs me to stay in touch with the outside world.

Avg 4-15 min phone case per week- $13 or $55/month

Emails- $60/month      (Calls and emails are monitored)

U.S. Postage stamps- $32/month    (probably not an average inmate cost-I write a lot)

Since I’ve had 6 of my last 7 meals in my cell, with meals made from stuff from the commissary (my favorite-peanut butter, mayo, bacon wrap), I decided to take a chance on the chow hall today. This, even though the guard on the PA announced- “Hot dog, soup, and tuna fish salad”. I said to my cellie, “I think I could go for a hot dog today.” He said, “Not hot dogs, hot dog soup!”

I replied, “Don’t you think he meant ‘hot dogs comma soup”?

He said “No, hot dog soup.”

A guy from Chicago within earshot said, “If its hot dogs, it can’t be bad. The good joints all cook their dogs in dirty water, and steam their buns in it too.” [“Dirty water” is not fresh water, but water with hot dog juices in it.]

And so, onward and upward toward my hot dog soup experience. It was, as I imagined, veggie sup with sliced hot dogs. My first thought was gratefulness that the hot dogs had been sliced thin. Much more appealing to my eye. My next thought was a pondering of which imaginary scenario to place myself in. It’s all relative, isn’t it? The same food that would make you irate in a decent restaurant, or worrisome if eating at the home of your potential fiancé’s mom, would likely be regarded as a feast if eaten in the wilds with Bear Grylls, or in Canada in a fishing boat, or in the backwoods with your grandpa on a squirrel hunt.

I picked the squirrel hunt and got through half of it, washing it down with tuna fish salad and water.

Chatting with my Kentucky small-town unit mate on the way back, I open with, “How’d you like your hot dog soup?” He said, “They feed us like pigs. That was nothing but slop.”

Minutes later, I was at the microwave reheating what was left of my morning coffee. Asked another country boy how he liked the soup. He said “I been here 13 years and this chow hall has gone down hill every year.” I said, “Thirteen years? When do you get out?” He replied, “Next February.” I asked what brought him here. He said “Two pounds of pot. Never had as much as a speeding ticket in my life!”

Rendered me rather speechless.

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