My lips are shinny from lip balm. The skin on my face is glowing from mass amounts of Oil of Olay. This I know because I just caught a glimps of myself in the reflection of my 7″ touchscreen JP5. Now I feel like blogging. Let’s do it!
I feel good. Just a few hours ago I cut my hair and shaved my face, armpits, and down below. I thought about Suzie as I was manscaping. For those who don’t know what manscaping is, it’s when a man shaves and trims his pubic hairs all around his southern region. Now you know.
Why the hell would a man in prison manscape? Any ideas? You’d be surprised at how many inmates do it. Ask your inmate if he does it. If he says, ”yes” ask him ”why?”
I do it to keep the fleas and crabs off me. It seems to be working.
If your inmate doesn’t trim his bushes, I’d be willing to bet that he has bad breath most the time too. It just seems like those two go hand in hand…bad breath, and a colony of crabs & fleas co-existing in an unruly out-of-control man bush. Pay attention the next time you’re in the visiting room. You’ll see guys scratching their nuts left and right. Thats because they have crabs, fleas, and ball mites. All because they don’t manscape.
I had no idea that this post was going to be so educational for ya all. But since it is, I’ll continue to enlighten.
I’m going to teach you a technique that will enable you to save money on mouthwash. I learned this technique just the other day when I used a sink next to Mike, aka: The Mad Jacker. They call him “The Mad Jacker” because he’s always beating off in the toilet and shower stalls. Everyone knows he does it. But he doesn’t care. He still does it. Mike is crazy. He’s also a genius. Literally. (Read Jesse’s post called Surprised. He’s talking about Mike.)
So I pull up along side of him and start brushing my teeth. Above each sink is a mirror and a little stainless steel shelf. I notice on Mike’s shelf he has floss, toenail clippers, nasal spray, a salt shaker that he stole from the chow hall, and two bottles of mouthwash.
As I’m brushing my teeth, I’m also watching him through my mirror. He has no idea.
He takes a huge swig of mouthwash and starts swishing it around. Then he tilts his head back and vigorously gargles. I can see splashes of mouthwash fly out of his mouth and down his chin and neck. I take a step farther away from him and decide to watch him point blank. Like a statue I just stand and stare as I brush.
After he gargles, he spits the mouthwash into the other mouthwash container. That’s when I noticed that both his mouthwash bottles contained backwashed mouthwash. I gaged.
Then I spit my toothpaste in the sink and said, “What in the world are you doing?”
“Getting ready to brush my teeth.” he says.
“No.” I said, “Why are you spitting mouthwash back into the container?”
As he squeezes indigent toothpaste onto his indigent toothbrush, he says, “The sodium fluoride is still active. I’m not going to waste perfectly good mouthwash.”
(Indigent – An inmate who has less than $10 on his books for 30 days or longer is considered to be “indigent.” Indigent inmates can purchase indigent items as they rack up an indigent debt. NOTE: Indigent items are generic, no name brand items. In other words, they suck!) See: Glossary of Prison Terms
I hide my disgust and act intrigued. “How many times can you use it before the sodium fluoride is no longer active?”
He says, “I’ve been using this stuff for 7 months and it’s still good.”
This guy is totally oblivious to how crazy and gross all this is. In his mind we are having an average everyday conversation.
I ask him, “How do you know when the sodium fluoride is no longer active?”
He simply says, “When it stops burning.”
I then asked him, “Why do you turn off the water when you brush your teeth?”
I asked him that because I do then same thing. It’s obviously to conserve water. But not many guys do that in here. As a matter of fact, some guys deliberately turn on all the faucets and then walk away.
Mike answers, “To save water. By doing so, I save up to 4 gallons of water every time I brush my teeth.”
I ask, “How many times a day do you brush?”
He says, “Three.”
I say, “That’s 12 gallons of water you save per day.”
He says, “Yep. And 4,380 gallons per year.”
I ask, “What do you do with all the water you save?”
He finally looks at me for the first time, cocks his head sideways, and says, “Ha Ha, very funny.”
Then he gathers all his things and speed walks out of the bathroom and to his cell. Mike is always in a hurry no matter where he goes.
Yes, Mike is an odd ball. He does some strange things. But Mike is alright with me. Together we save approximately 8,760 gallons of water per year! Who knew?
There is a perception that jails and prisons are doubling as mental health institutions.
Perception is reality. As I look around the dayroom I see a variety of inmates with mental health issues. The severity of their issues range from mild to extreme. For the most part, everyone in prison has some type of mental health issue. Otherwise they wouldn’t be in prison. So yes, mental health and prison go hand in hand.
So how bad are the mental health issues in prison? I say, not that bad. All things considered, it’s to be expected.
Most of these men are exactly where they belong. But because the criminal justice system is so massive, there is a margin of error. There are a handful of men in prison who should be in a mental institution. And vise versa, there are men in mental institutions who should be in prison.
For the most part, the system gets it right. I wouldn’t classify the mishaps as a massive problem.
The bottom line is, these men are a threat to society. They hurt, kill, and victimize people. They need to be removed from society. Whether they go to a mental health institution, or prison, that is for the courts to decide. If the courts get it wrong, that is of little consequence. Just as long as they are off the streets and society is safer. That’s what matters.
For those who can be rehabilitated and re-enter society as a law abiding citizen, good for them. Those people come from both…prisons and mental health institutions. So it’s not so much about the type of institution as it is about the mind of the individual.
I will say that being mentally sick is no excuse for any crime. If someone commits a crime and they are so mentally ill to where they don’t know right from wrong, they still need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Especially if it’s a violent crime. Lock them up in prison, or a mental health institution.
Some people disagree. Why? Because he’s mentally ill?
So what now? Let him go free? So he can go hurt or kill someone else?
Put him in prison or a mental health institution. Which one…I don’t care. Just get him off the streets. What he does from there, is up to him. If he doesn’t have the mental capacity to ever get better, then he dies in an institution.
Sometimes reality is sad and harsh. But life goes on. And the main focus should always remain on keeping law abiding citizens SAFE from criminals and the mentally ill.
This is an interesting topic. Keep the discussion going by utilizing the comment section.
This post is specifically for the friends and family of John Cecil. But it’s also for anyone who has a loved one coming home soon. John has been incarcerated for the past 20 years. In 33 days and a wake-up, he’ll be returning to society dehumanized, demoralized, a little out-of-touch, and extremely bitter.
Don’t be surprised if he chooses to squat against the living room wall rather than sit in a chair. If you notice the days on the calendar are X’ed out, just ignore it. And don’t trip on him for wearing flip-flops in the shower.
For the first few months until he is house broken, you can expect the following :
*Excessive use of toilet paper.
*Excessive flushing of the toilet.
*Clogging the toilet.
*Eating meals super fast.
*Stealing food from the kitchen and hording it in his room.
*Making pruno in his closet.
*Hiding extra linen and towels under his mattress.
*Dipping Q-Tips in your perfume and swabbing a 25watt bulb after ripping ass during quiet time.
*Wearing earplugs and a beanie to bed.
In the event you witness any of the above actions, it would be best if you take into consideration the crude environment in which he just lived in for the past two decades, and afford him a generous allowance.
Here are some other things to be mindful of:
*Don’t walk too close behind him.
*He’ll drop the soap on purpose. DO NOT pick it up for him.
*Don’t look into his room, just keep on walking.
*Don’t make a big deal outta him eating his entire meal with a spork.
*Look the other way when he rolls up his pancakes, dips them in syrup, and eats them with his fingers.
*When you turn on a light, he might stand for count. Just say ,”one, two” and he should go back to what he was doing.
*He’ll probably cut his hair in the bathroom and leave a mess. Unless your looking for a fight, just ignore it, or clean it up yourself.
Yes. A convict is coming into your life. Be prepared to deal with the host of bad habits that will accompany him. If all else fails, and he gets to be too much, send his ass back to prison. Simply slam the car door on your face and tell the cops he did it. They’ll believe you over a convicted fellon any day.
Have a great day.
It’s easy to identify those who will re-offend and come back to prison vs. those who will get out and be successful. So why not implement programs that REALLY focus on the 66% who will re-offend? In order to identify those who will re-offend vs. those who will stay out, I have randomly selected and interviewed 2 inmates.
Here’s an interview I did with a guy who will come back to prison:
Paul is a 35 year old white male.
He’s been in and out of prison 4 times.
He currently has 2 years left before he gets out.
His rap sheet is long: robbery, burglary, I.D. theft, possession of stolen property, possession of stolen vehicle, eluding, etc. And his infraction history includes: tattooing, failure to provide a UA, dirty UA, etc.
I asked him, “How did you end up in prison?”
He said, “Drugs and addiction.”
I asked him, “Who are you?”
He paused. He was stuck. I wanted to help urge him along, but I kept quiet as he processed the question. It literally took him 45 seconds before he said, “I’m a charismatic, outgoing, loving guy who is easily influenced. I know right from wrong but I always choose wrong for some unknown reason. My priorities are all wrong. I’m selfish and unresponsible [sic]. I always make excuses and justify my wrong actions.”
He said for himself that he is “easily influenced.” So why not influence this man with positive, meaningful activities that inspires great intrinsic motivation?
I asked him, “How do you spend your days?”
He said, “I play cards, workout, and kick it with friends.”
I asked Paul, “What do you want to do when you get out?”
He said, “Run a business and be a father. Enjoy life.”
I asked, “What type of business?”
He said, “A Tow Truck company. Or a Barber Shop. I’ve even been thinking about a Detail Shop.”
I then asked, “What are you doing now, while in prison, to ensure success?”
He said, “I’m reading a book on small businesses. I think about it a lot. I need to start writing things down.”
The last question I asked Paul was, “Will you come back to prison?”
He said, “I hope not.”
There’s no question in my mind that Paul will come back to prison. Every sign points to it. However, things might be drastically different for Paul if he was engaging in meaningful activities that would tap into his Intrinsic Motivation.
Now here’s an interview I did with a guy who will get out, stay out, and be successful:
Terry Essick is 33. He fell in 1999 and gets out in 2019. He got 20 years for 1st degree murder.
Infraction free for over 5 years.
Spends his days going to school, studying, working out, dog program, and applying what he learns.
Says he’s in prison because as a kid he lacked structure and proper guidance, which lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Describes himself as an outgoing, charismatic, empathic, kind, caring man who is very stern when need be.
Upon release he wants to get into small business management (fitness related). And invest in real estate, and other commodities such as energy, and the stock market.
To prepare for these future events he takes college courses, reads educational books, and watches educational programs. He’s already earned his Certified Training Degree. With his knowledge, he mentors others in here.
Now here’s something that surprised me. I asked him, “Will you be back after you get out?”
He said, “I don’t intend to. But you never know. I mean, I don’t know what fate has in store for me. If someone hurts my family or anyone I love, all bets are off.”
After that last comment, I went from believing there’s no way he’ll be back….to, he very well could be back. I mean after all, he is in for killing a man who was harassing his mother.
For those who don’t know, IMU stands for “Intensive Management Unit”. It’s basically long term segregation. Some guys spend years, even decades in IMU.
So the question is, “How could a filthy, dirt bag, scum-of-the-earth inmate get a jelly-filled powered donut while in IMU?”
Well the answer is actually easier than you think. All the inmate needs to do is cover his window, cause a disturbance, and refuse to comply with directives until his demands are met.
But he shouldn’t get too crazy with his demands. He should keep it simple and reasonable. For example, he should demand a jelly-filled powered donut. This is more than a reasonable request. The simplicity of this demand should result in success.
It’s a win-win for everyone. The inmate gets happily fed, and the S.E.R.T. squad doesn’t have to suit-up and commit controlled acts of violence.
It makes a lot of economic sense as well. Jelly-filled powered donuts are way cheaper than canisters of pepper spray, and all the extra pay that goes to each and every S.E.R.T. member.
Although this post drips with jelly-like sarcasm and powdery satire, it is based on an actual episode that recently took place here at Stafford Creek. An inmate covered his window and refused to comply with directives until he got a donut.
Prison officials can deal with this in one of two ways:
#1 – They can spray him with pepper spray, bum rush his cell, beat him up, and drag him out. Then uncover his window for him.
#2 – Give him a donut.
What do you think they should do?
“We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
(pg. 25-27 in the NA book, sixth edition)
Today we read about step three. This reading gave me valuable food for thought as I interpreted it in a way that works for me. If I am to grow spiritually, I must be honest about everything, including my concept of God.
A lot of people try to force their version of God on me. However, their version makes no sense to me. To simplify my point, I’ll just say this: I don’t believe mythology in a literal sense.
However, I do believe in the fundamental teachings of the Bible and Jesus. I believe in Cause and Effect. I believe in The Law of Attraction. I believe in the power of love. Therefore, Love is my God.
I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or an afterlife, or a divine force that answers prayers and ignores others. I believe that You Reap What You Sow. And if your prayers are aligned with your actions, thoughts, and lifestyle…and if you consistently commit to that Prayer…well then sooner or later it’ll come true.
I am my own God. My moral compass is set by the fundamental teachings of the Bible and Jesus. And that’s where it ends. It picks up again with my actions and commitment level to living a life in accordance to the practical teachings throughout the Bible.
I don’t look to an empty sky for guidance. I look within myself and tap into my spiritual foundation which gives me strength and guidance.
Many people say, “Yes! That is God!”
In which I respond, “Hallelujah!”
So many people turn their lives over to God, yet they continue to struggle and suffer. That’s because God won’t do anything for anyone who does not understand that God has to be created from within them. There is not an outside force that magically works for the good (or the bad) of people. This force comes from within! This is As I Understand It.
If you want it, you can have it. How you come to IT and how you get IT, is up to you. But it must come from within. Don’t expect some outside force to come in and magically change your life.
Create your own God within your soul with love, understanding, and compassion. Then serve that God with all your might and strength. If you do that, then your life will truly transform for the better.
So again, STEP THREE says: “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
How do you understand God? And how is THAT working for you?
Now that I’m learning a little about Occupational Therapy, I feel like it’s giving me a deeper, richer, more thorough understanding of life in general. I reflect back to my days of crime and misconduct, and I see direct parallels to the fact that I had zero to very little meaningful activities in my life.
Today I engage in several meaningful activities. And as a result, I live a healthy lifestyle full of love, compassion, excitement, and happiness. It’s so clear to see that the healthy lifestyle came AFTER I started to engage in meaningful activities.
Early in my incarceration I had a desire to live a healthy lifestyle. I told myself on numerous occasions, “It’s time. Let’s do it!” But time and time again, I’d fail. Why? Because I wasn’t engaging in meaningful activities. The ONLY way to achieve a healthy lifestyle IS to engage in meaningful activities. There’s no other way to do it!
I’m so glad I’m learning this stuff. In addition to the clarity it brings me, it also teaches me effective ways to articulate my journey when mentoring and helping others.
I feel like I’ve done a lot of this work on my own. And just now, I’m starting to learn about it from a clinical standpoint. Which is great! Because the principles and philosophies have been validated before they were recognized.
Now it’s time to continue to learn and build as I use Occupational Therapy (Wikipedia definition). That in itself is a meaningful activity that is essential to a healthy lifestyle.
I’ve learned that in Occupational Therapy there are 7 areas of occupation that people engage in. Some are self explanatory. Some are not. But I feel they are all important to know. By knowing them, I can achieve a better balance in my life. I can do a self evaluation and determine if I’m lacking or over compensating in a specific area. The 7 occupations are:
#1) Activities of Daily Living (ADL) – This refers to basic needs such as eating, showering, hygiene, clothing, sex, etc.
I’m definitely lacking in the sex department. So this is something I need to address in my life. And address it I shall…in March 2017!…EFV’s with my wife, Suzie. 🙂
#2) Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s) – This is the act of caring for my environment, such as ordering my commissary, cleaning my cell, helping my disabled celly, taking care of my dog, turning off the water that people deliberately leave on, etc.
I feel balanced with this one. However, I can do more. A lot of guys don’t clean up after themselves. Therefore, the sink and microwave area is always a mess. From now on, whenever I see a mess, I’ll take 30 seconds and clean it up. Why not? It’ll be good for me.
#3) Education – Participating in a learning environment or learning activities.
I could definitely use more of this. And now that its been brought to my attention, I will actively seek opportunities to engaged in more educational activities. I currently engage in two educational activities: NA Meetings and the Sustainability In Prison lectures.
#4) Leisure – A non-obligatory activity that is engeged in during discretionary time.
I have plenty of leisure activities, such as: blogging, writing Real Love Letters to the love of my life, working out, taking my dog for a walk, reading, etc.
#5) Work – Employment. Making money. Getting paid! Also, volunteer activities.
I do both. Freedom Tails is all volunteer work. And I find it way more rewarding than my actual job. If I had to choose between my “Remunerative Work” and my “Volunteer Work” I would sacrifice my pay and choose my Volunteer work. This just goes to show how rewarding volunteer work really is.
#6) Play – Any activity that provides enjoyment, entertainment, amusement, or diversion.
This is interesting. Because what happens when these adjectives can be applied to work, volunteer, and leisure? All of a sudden, play becomes a dominant meaningful activities in my life. I like that! I’m going to make it happen.
#7) Social Participation – Activities associated with patterns of behavior within a given social system.
Prison is a social system. A lot of misconduct goes on in here. So I’m better off engaging in anti-social participation when it comes to the prison social system as a whole. Another word for “Social Participation” in prison would be “Institutionalized”. This is just one perspective. My reality is: there are sub societies within the overall predominant prison social system.
By conducting myself in a positive, productive manner, and observing The Law of Attraction, I find my self socially participating in a positive mini sub-division within a predominant negative social system. The social participation that I engage in, is strong enough to give me strength to navigate through the negative prison social system without getting caught up in the current of negativity.
This woman and I actually started the process of getting married back in 2011. Out of respect for her, I’ll call her “Rose.” On 12/22/11, I got my first letter from Rose. She found me on goodprisoner.com.
By 1/25/12, I was getting letters from her that read in part, “Yes, of course I will marry you. There isn’t anyone who could love me more or better.”
On 1/27/12, she wrote:
You are breaking my poor heart with all the romance that you are showing me. Believe it or not, no one has ever come close to how you treat me. How can I ever deny you? I can’t and I don’t want to either. I will be gentle with your heart, emotions, and feelings. I showed my daughter your picture. She got all red in the face and said that you are beautiful. I told her that I am going to marry you, and she said she wished that it was her. She said, “Ummm, he is sooo fine!” I said, “Girl, I know. He’s BAAADDD!” I am proud of you and I am proud to be with you. I love you. ~Rose
On 1/30/12, she wrote:
Baby, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, for the beautiful cards that you made and sent to my daughter and I! We absolutely love them, but NOT as much as we LOVE you, Steven! I will always love you and treat you with the GREATEST respect as my friend, partner, lover, and husband!!! You are a beautiful and very special person. My daughter cannot stop saying, “That’s a beautiful card, Mama!” We have tears of joy in our hearts and eyes. My daughter just kissed your picture and I am gonna kiss it everyday. You are too much…I love you, Baby! Sincerely, Rose
These beautiful letters went back and forth for weeks. THEN, I got one dated 2/11/12. In part, this is what it said:
I have re-evaluated my situation and my feelings that I thought I had for you. You have been institutionalized for all of your adult life and that has impaired your understanding of the dynamics of men and women in relationships. The only experiences regarding real, committed, intimate involvements that you have had with women OR anything else, has come from those in your family, a few scattered friends, a dog in a rehabilitative program, and a f*cking bird named Chirpy! I mean, give me a break! As a result of being around a bunch of derelicts and hard-leg men, you have become a product of the delusional environment you exist in with an unrealistic mind. I mean…what do you really know about love and relationships, except that you want conjugal visits as a means to satisfy a fantasy you have, and because you have been deprived of the privileges of those of us in the free world? You were the one that f*cked up and now you want rights that you waived when you committed crimes, not only as an adult, but as a JUVENILE as well, to be given to you. Huh! You should have thought of all that before you committed criminal mischief and those four felonies!
You are a sociological, philosophical, and criminological EXPERIMENT for my master’s thesis book. Simply put, you, your letters, your websites, and all of your emails and ALL of your crimes (to give a thorough chronology to the extent of your delinquency), are priceless research for me to get accepted into my doctorate program this Fall and to get an A. For that, I thank you very much.
What do you know about being echelon and classy, Sweetheart? All I SEE is prison issued attire, bad grammar, and an uneducated boy perpetrating that of a so-called “hip” and current man. You do NOT know who you are!!! But, how could you? How truly sad…
I don’t want to be in a fantasy relationship with a BOY, as I do not have time to re-RAISE someone else’s child! You don’t know and will never know how to love a woman like me. You are too immature and you really won’t know what true love is until you get OUT OF PRISON!!! Steven, I don’t have to lower my standards to be happy or to be loved, and to continue to deal with you and your BS, is exactly what I will be doing. Convince someone else how “different and special you are,” because to me you are NO DIFFERENT, BETTER, or UNIQUE, than the rest of those CRIMINALS AND CONVICTS who think they have so much to offer a woman! This is my last letter and request to you, Steven Dale Jennings. Please return all of my pictures, as I don’t want you to have me as part of your entourage. Forget about me and my daughter. I can’t deal with you and the stress you bring me. You are too disruptive and you are causing me a great deal of anguish. ~Rose
Wow! That was a lot to take in. How do you respond to that? Very carefully. First, I did as she requested. I sent back all of her photos. I was kind and respectful. I apologized for making her feel that way. I kept my words short and sweet. I knew she needed time and space.
Then, on 2/14/12, to my surprise I got this email from her, “I feel like sh*t for being mean to you! Ignore me and my craziness! I just need you so bad, baby! I love you. ~Rose”
I took that as an opportunity to respond to her mean email a little bit. I was kind and respectful. Then for the next few weeks I’d get emails like this, “You are an incredible person and a truly beautiful, beautiful soul. I love how you immediately try to make things right between us! That makes me so happy! I just love you, Steven! ~Rose”
On 4/18/12 she wrote, “What did I do to deserve you? How could one woman be sooo lucky? You are a DREAM…I love you with all my heart. ~Rose”
On 4/22/12, I got another email. It read, in part:
This will be the last email that you will ever receive from me. Trying to have a relationship with you is much more than I have bargained for and in my estimate, not worth it. I no longer want to have any form of communication with you, nor do I want to receive any communication from you as well. To deal with you is too hard for me. The energy, time, and money that I have exerted on this hopeless rapport, is pointless!!! Therefore, I choose not to exert anymore effort on it. Find someone else that you can hustle and have bow down to you, because I am NOT THE ONE!
I can go on and on with these love/hate emails. I definitely saw a pattern. I started to realize that she loved to fight just to get a reaction out of me. No matter what I said or did, it was only a matter of time before she found something to quarrel about.
I could always soothe her over when she felt like it was time. But no matter what, I knew another un-provoked storm was on the way.
As much as I loved her and all of her good qualities, I realized that it’s better to live on a corner of a roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife. It was time to move on.
And THANK GOD I did. Soon after, I met Suzie. The love of my life. My soul mate. The Yin to my Yang. My perfect match. My wife.
Suzie is a tender and wholesome woman. A gentle soul. She shows understanding in her words and actions as we learn & grow together. She is soooo much more than I ever expected. She accepts me, ALL of me. She see’s me for who I am, not where I am.
A lot of people find it intriguing how relationships like ours come to be. To read how Suzie & I met and fell in love, please check out: Real Love Letters
I never dreamed life could be this easy. Let me tell you about this amazing life I live. I know a lot of people hate their jobs; they stress over lack of money and bills stacking up. Think about all the stress in your life; and just know there are millions of people with the same issues.
However, my life is extraordinary; by no means is it even close to “normal”. How would you like it if you could hit the snooze button all day? Wouldn’t it feel good to be able to sleep when it’s time to get up? Well, for me, I can stay in bed all day if I so desire, and sometimes I do. It all depends on how I feel. Usually I get out of bed around noon so I can participate in activities I love. It takes me about ten minutes to get ready. So, as I do, I turn on my TV to MTV or VH1. I like to start my day with music.
After I get ready for the day, it’s time to eat something. I don’t put much time or effort into this task. I have people who cook for me. It’s nice to be able to walk to the kitchen and have a hot meal waiting. All I have to do is eat; I don’t prepare anything or clean up. All my meals are this way.
After I eat, I usually go play one of my favorite games, handball. On average I play seven days a week. Sometimes I’ll take a day off if I feel like it. I’m also on a softball team during the summer, which I love! I’m the lead off batter and I play left field. My team is very good. We always have a good season, even if we don’t win the championship. In the past ten years our team has won six championships and came in second place twice. I also spend my days playing soccer, basketball, and working out. I never thought my life would be so easy and stress free.
I don’t pay any bills; as a matter of fact, I can’t even remember the last time I received a bill. Yet, my TV always turns on when I press the power button. Every time I flick a light switch, the lights come on. My water is always running and hot when I need it. The ice machine is always full of ice. My house is always heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer.
I thought life was supposed to be full of responsibilities, deadlines, and commitments. Heck, it’s not that way for me. All I do is have fun, joke around, and play games. Where’s the responsibility? I even have someone who does my laundry; they pick it up dirty and return it clean. OK, I admit it…I do fold it, but only if it’s already been cleaned.
After a long day of playing games or just lying around, I like to spend my evenings playing a card game called Pinochle. I really enjoy this game; I’ve spent up to ten hours in a single day playing Pinochle. It’s what I do to relax if I don’t feel like playing sports or working out. This lifestyle is quite simple. If I don’t feel like doing something, I don’t. And why should I?
This is my life; it’s not like there is someone who can fire me from life. This lifestyle of mine is like being on vacation. I move at my own pace and I choose my own activities.
How would you like to live a life like this? Just think about it. A life where everything you’ll ever need is handed to you. Other people pay everything for you; your clothes, your food, your house, and all the services to keep things functioning. And better yet, you’ll never have to pay any money back. Any time you get sick or need a dentist, the services are there immediately, and there is absolutely no money out of your pocket. Never again will you have to stress over the basic necessities of life, like millions upon millions do.
Life is too short for all the stress and worry. That’s why I’ve decided to enjoy my life to the fullest. I’ve learned to appreciate the things I have and the time I’m provided with on this wonderful earth God has created. I recognize my blessings and cherish every one of them. Even the ones I have to create myself. Only a fool would take life for granted, regardless of how you live.
I know this is easy for me to say considering I have everything I’ll ever need. However, this lifestyle is so easy; anyone can achieve it. You don’t need a college education or even a high school diploma. People who dropped out of school at the age of 12 or started to abuse drugs and alcohol everyday can achieve this lifestyle. Full-blown junkies can live this lifestyle, and many do. The only thing you need to do to create this lifestyle is come to prison.
I’ve been in prison since the age of 20. I’m now 41 and I have 18 years left to serve. I’d gladly trade in my prison life for a free life full of responsibilities, commitments, and deadlines, which naturally create stress. Unfortunately, this is not an option for me. So, I’ve chosen to focus on all the positive aspects of life. Even from behind bars, life is what you make of it. The quality of your life depends on what you choose to focus and dwell on. Accept hardship and stress as a natural part of existence, then just let it roll off your back like water off a duck. Seek out all the good and all the beauties in this world; help create them. Take the time to comprehend and actually enjoy life’s little pleasures. Enjoy the moment and let it soak in, rather than letting it pass by with a quick laugh. If I can be this free within the filthy boundaries of prison, just imagine what you can do in the midst of Gods beauty.
NOTE: I wrote this 10 years ago.
Ronald Shaw is an old timer. He’s been in prison since November 16, 1974. He’ll be 60 this year.
During Ronald’s lengthy incarceration he enjoyed shooting heroin, shooting coke, popping pills, smoking cigarettes, drinking pruno, smoking weed, and doing any other kind of drug he could find. Well 6 months ago, his lifestyle caught up with him. He had a massive stroke. Then 3 months later he had brain surgery. Now he can barely walk. He’s confined to a wheelchair.
Just last week as I was doing my unit job, an officer called me to his station. He said, “Jennings, we need you to go to medical.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because Mr. Shaw is done with his appointment and he needs someone to push him back to the unit.”
I paused for a few seconds, “Can’t you find someone else to get him?”
The officer scans the dayroom real quick then says, “Nope. You’re on the clock and I’m asking you to do it.”
“Okay” I say. And off I go.
Medical is about one block from my unit. When I get there I see an old man in a wheelchair. I ask him, “What are you doing?”
He says, “I guess I’m waiting for someone to come get me.”
I say, “Yep! That’s me. Let’s go.” And we’re off.
As I’m pushing him he says, “Are you my new pusher?”
I say, “Nope, this is a one-time deal.”
He says, “Well I just need someone to push me to chow, pill line, and to call outs. If you wanna be my pusher, I’ll give you stamps.” (stamps are pre-franked envelopes)
I tell him, “Thanks but no thanks. I’m too busy for all that.”
As I roll him into the unit I’m greeted by two officers. One of them tells me that I’m responsible for getting Mr. Shaw to chow, pill line, and to call outs.
“Really!?” I say. I’m not happy. I protest, “I’m a foyer porter, not a wheelchair pusher.”
They say, “From 7am-2pm you are expected to perform and all job assignments as directed.” They’re right. I can’t win. It’s either do it, or get fired. I do it.
Lunch time comes. I push him. I’m getting all kinds of looks and comments from every direction. I simply reply, “I’m serving the Lord by serving others.” It’s a smart ass comment. Everyone knows I’m doing this against my will. But my comment does bring a little comedy to the situation.
A little later it’s off to pill line. This is the WORST! The line is 20 minutes long. So I start up a conversation with ol Ronald Shaw. He tells me how he used to collect drug debts for biker gangs, and how he attacked a guy on the panel at his parole hearing. And how he stabbed this guy and smashed that guy. It was one war story after another.
That’s when I realized I wasn’t pushing around a timid frail old man. I was pushing around an old battled tested convict who survived the killing days and most violent era at Walla Walla.
On the way back from pill line I asked him, “Hey Ronald, you ever been to Disneyland?”
“Fuck no! I’ve been locked up my entire life.”
“Well today is your lucky day. This is just like Disneyland.” And with that, I popped a wheelie and sped up. I swerved side to side. I looked back and no guards were watching. So I ran as I pushed him in the wheelchair. Up ahead there’s a section of gravel on the side of the walkway. I slow down to a fast walk. I take him off the road into the gravel. As I sharply swerve back onto the walkway, the foot rest catches the edge of the cement.
The wheelchair stops dead in its tracks. Ronald goes flying out head first. He hits the wet pavement. His arms are pinned under his body and his ass is in the air. He’s cussing up a storm and I can’t stop laughing.
“It’s not funny goddamn it!” he barks.
I look around. There’s not a guard in sight. I’m still laughing. “Hurry up Ronald, get back in the chair before we get in trouble.”
Ronald is still laying there, ass up in the air, “Fuck you, you son of a bitch! I can’t get up!”
I can’t stop laughing, but I manage to say, “You’re not even trying. Try!”
“I can’t move!” he yells.
I laugh harder. It’s uncontrollable. My eyes are watering. I’m still behind the wheelchair as Ronald is layed out on the cement.
He yells, “Get me the fuck up you asshole!”
I laugh harder. I am border-line hysterical. Ronald is cussing up a storm…hotter than fish grease.
Finally I walk over to him and roll him on his side. I grip the front of his jacket like a burlap sack of potatoes and pick him up. He’s still cussing, “You stupid mother fucker, I knew you were gonna wreck me!”
I’m still laughing.
“That shit ain’t funny, you could’ve killed me!”
I set him in the wheelchair and off we go! I pop a small wheelie and he freaks out!
“Motherfucker…knock it off!”
I say, “What? I thought you’d like Disneyland.”
“Fuck you! Just take me inside,” he demands.
I’m still laughing!
Before we go inside, I stop. I walk around to face him. We make eye contact. I can’t control myself. I bust out laughing again. I finally compose myself enough to speak, although my speech is full of laughter. I apologize to Ronald. I put my hand on his shoulder and say, “You know I didn’t mean to do that, right?”
He says, “Yeah, I know.”
Then I say, “You have to admit, that shit was funny.”
“NO! No it wasn’t.”
“Come on Ronald, not even a little bit?”
To my surprise, he smiled and said, “Maybe a little bit.”
I fixed his hair and straightened his glasses. Then said, “Alright buddy, lets go inside.”
The next day as everyone is waiting for breakfast, I see Ronald in his wheelchair. He has a new pusher behind him. Ronald doesn’t see me approaching. I whisper, “Let me push him.” The new guy steps aside and I grab the helm. Chow is called and off we go. He has no idea that I’m pushing him. The second we get outside I speed up. Then I pop a wheelie.
Ronald tries to look back, but I lean the opposite way. Then I do a sharp swerve. He knows it’s me!
He yells, “Fuck NO! Fuck NO! STOP! STOP!”
I let go. About 20 guys all start laughing. By now, everyone heard of the incident. Ronald laughs too. He loves the attention. I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “See! I told you that shit was funny!”