17 May, 2014

Minor-Disaster Recovery and the Cracker Epilogue

Because lunch in the dining hall had been unsatisfying, I was eating some crackers, dipping each directly into the mouth of a jar of off-brand peanut butter and scooping up its smooth, calorific goodness with the crackers’ ridged edges, the furrows made by which made me think of swoops raked in the sand of Japanese rock gardens. I was off in thought, dipping and munching. Then the guard came for me. There was one cracker left in the plastic sleeve, which I knew I didn’t have time to eat, so I stuck it in the jar — just shoved it down there, miring it in peanut butter — and closed the lid, thinking I’d be back to claim it momentarily.

I was not back to claim it momentarily.

Guards inventory and pack everyone’s property who goes to the Hole, throwing out or confiscating anything that may be contraband — plus some things that may not be. Going to segregation is almost always an exercise in loss management. I personally expected to be released and find many of my meager possessions gone, lost in the shuffle of packing and repacking. I came to terms with the notion surprisingly easily.

Thirty-one days after the beginning of my lockup experience, I walked from my new housing unit, in shower shoes and segregation-orange pants, to the prison’s property room, unsure how much I’d be bringing back with me, thinking about what it meant that I wouldn’t be upset if a lot of my things were broken or missing.

Astonishment! It was all intact, all accounted for. My canteen items had been dumped into the red mesh bag they’d been issued in, my books and folders and clean clothes had been packed back in my footlocker more or less where I’d left them (one benefit to keeping my ducks in a row, lockstep), and my miscellanea had been placed into a cardboard box. I signed for it all, pleased at not having to ask where this or that item was, the way the two other prisoners with me did.

Unpacking after a move can take a lot out of a guy. Settled into my new digs with an unfamiliar, thus-far agreeable cellmate, having shaved the month of itchy beard growth off my cheeks, chin, and upper lip, revealing that there is, in fact, still a familiar face there, I felt a little peckish. One sealed sleeve of crackers awaited, its box having been thrown away by parties unknown. The plastic had taken on the perfumy scent of the laundry detergent it had been packed alongside a month earlier. I tore it open along its seams. When I opened the peanut-butter jar, I discovered that lone cracker still standing there. Feeling a strangely satisfied sense of completion, of having passed, relatively unscathed, through travails, I pulled it out and ate it without hesitation.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Byron does not have Internet access. Pariahblog.com posts are sent from his cell by way of a secure service especially for prisoners' use. We do read him your comments, however, and he enjoys hearing your thoughts very much.