“A Day in the Life of a Convict”
It has been kinda awhile since my last writing, it comes and goes within me. But the other day I was thinking about my days now in the free world versus my days in prison. How different and how the same they were or are they? See inside a normal day starts very early, typically around 3:00am with breakfast chow call. Over the speakers you will hear “Chow to the dayroom”. Most days you can have anywhere from seconds to 15 minutes to get ready and be at the cell door. If you are not ready at the cell door, more than likely the guard will slam it shut and you’re stuck out unless you have a cool cop.
Then we all trudged down to the dayroom, half asleep, waiting for our turn. Now the fun began. We may get lucky and the “Chow Rolling” call came right away, or we sat and waited in the dayroom for as much as an hour waiting on “Chow out the door”. Then of course we got our trays of an awarding winning meal and shoved it down our faces in minutes or until a cop tapped us out. Back to the house and to bed. If you worked the fields are garment factory you may as well stay up and wait on the call.
It was like Christmas when the call that garment factory workers were laid in, wow back to bed. Laid in meant the factory could be closed or the sock line was shut down or for any other reason. At times if the free world boss wasn’t there they would cancel his department. As for the Hoe Squad, rain of course would cancel us or it being too hot.
Dayroom would open at 7:00am, or there about depending on the cops and if the 6:00am count had cleared. Again those not at the door were stuck out till the next in and hour which they did or tried to do every hour. So we sat drinking our morning cup of gun powder and talked of last night’s games and checked our tickets on ESPN. Morning showers were taken and soon Wreck would be called, Gym time lol. Books were opened and others awaited the calls for trades, school, law library, and lay-ins to medical.
The next big thing would be the next in and out to get the next cup of coffee, damn that was a lot of next’s. See in prison we had a “Hurry up and Wait” saying which applied quite nicely to everyday life inside. Of course a lot of us brought our bags of coffee or a small container to the dayroom filled with coffee and would ask the guys still in their houses for hot water. Not waiting on the next in and out. A funnel was fashioned from rolled up paper the poured through the holes in the door to the waiting coffee cup. A thank you of sorts was exchanged as the happy inmate went back to take his place in the dayroom.
Oh ya I forgot, if a cop caught you doing this a “Keep off the damn run” would explode over the loud speakers. In some cases a case was issued to the inmate for just waiting a cup of coffee. In case you were wondering during dayroom times it is a big no no to be on the run. The run is anywhere behind the painted yellow lines on rows 1, 2, or 3. Some cops were cool and didn’t sweat it too much so quickness was the key. Also the willingness of the other inmate behind the door was accentual in this quest for hot water.
Most guys were ok with it but some could be butt heads. If a towel was up in the door that meant he was using the bathroom and a big no no in disturbing him. Again the speakers could echo with “Get that damn towel off your cell door”. Privacy was really non-existence in prison. Some guys may also be asleep so choosing the right cell and buddy was top on your morning list. A bit of coffee to that person went a long way. So the day would continue as normal as possible till 10:00am when count time was called. Hoping all cleared by 11:00am lunch would be called to the dayroom. Then the waiting game would begin for our pods turn and our section. Seeing another section all get up and rush through an open door meant we were just that closer to a very hot meal which we had to eat in about 10 minutes.
Mouths were burned plenty of times. I still think I have scars on my lips and mouth. There would be more work and school calls, more trades and lay-in calls. More coffee drank and the thought of spreading would start. We may “smuggle” something back from last chow to add to the spread. Last chow would be called around 3:00pm. I used to think we got 3 meals in a 12 hour period then nothing else. Unless of course you had stuff in your locker, a lot of guys had nothing to eat or snack on after about 4:00pm.
Somewhere after 7:00pm mail call would be called and that may be the best time of the day. The looks on the guys faces and the smiles when your name was announced is truly beyond my words. Looking back now I would think mail and store were the best things inside that for a brief moment took us outside the walls.
Rack time on week days was 10:30 and on weekends 12:00am. It is so different now, yet in many ways the same accept the walls and doors and cages. I can just about come and go as I please now depending on my work schedule. No need to bug a buddy for hot water anymore. I go check my own mail, but it’s not the same at all. I drive my own car which I don’t like doing anymore for some reason
I hate traffic even more now than before and can’t wait to get off concrete and walk on grass. I still hate small areas and love my big windows. Strangely at times I like being in my room with a closed door though. Cooking is so different and there are so many choices. Smells and tastes make my eyes open wide and a smile creep on my face. I feel for my brothers who are still inside and all they are missing.
I wish them all the best and would like them all to stay strong and believe that one day you could be sitting in your room typing on your own laptop as I am doing now. To all of you with loved ones inside, I say write often, calls are great, but give them something they can see and smell, something they can touch knowing you touched it too. Trust me we all smelled the letters, perfume is very intoxicating. I was not a smoker but could smell smoke on some of my letters and so could some of the guys.
Take a deep breath today and reflect what you really want in your life and out of your life. If your course says stay straight then by all means head in that direction. If it tells you to get off then do so and no one would or should fault you. There is only one person who knows what their heart and soul are telling them and that is you who are reading my humble words.