07 January, 2019

D-Wing Exodus

Rumors of the move had circulated for weeks. High muckamucks allegedly wanted A-Wing of each housing unit at ERDCC to become an honor dorm. This would mean an en masse cell-swap for those of us in incentive wings 1B, 3B, and 6D, and the GP inhabitants of 4A, 5A, and 6A — an operation involving a total of 432 prisoners. The purported reason was that houses full of well-behaved prisoners require less work by staff; most other houses are full of psychos, creeps, and assholes. But since 6-House already had one so-called incentive wing, moving us from D-Wing to A-Wing seemed so phenomenally nitpicky as to be absurd, like some obsessive bureaucrat's dream of perfect order. What difference could it make, which side of the house we're on? I wouldn't believe it until a guard told me to pack my stuff.

That happened first thing, Friday morning.

Pandemonium ensued. Beginning at 7:30 AM, all 144 prisoners in A- and D-Wing simultaneously packed and moved their worldly belongings out one set of doors, and straight through another. The activity, noise, and proximity of so many people in such a small space had me on edge, fighting back anxiety, as my cellmate and I waited for a cart with which to schlep our stuff.

Although it finally came, promising relief from the madness, a disaster occurred. Owing to distraction, I'd set my precious typewriter in a precarious spot. One nudge by my cellmate's footlocker, as we lifted it onto the cart, sent my typewriter crashing to the concrete floor. Plastic pieces scattered. A chorus of hoots and curses went up. Being in full Self-Control Mode kept me from freaking out at the potential loss of this irreplaceable asset. I decided to wait, deal with the tasks immediately at hand, then, later, plug in Old Faithful and see if she still worked. A neighbor handed me a little piece of the typewriter I'd missed. I accepted it from him with what probably looked like disinterest.

The new cell, when we reached it, stank like a mead hall. Vikings had left their hair and detritus everywhere. Hopper, my cellmate, swept up two dustpans of the stuff — the remnants of a Viking funeral, for all we knew. There was evidence of fire. The underside of Hopper's bunk had DAVE LOVES DE'S NUTS! written on it in soot. The last occupants had been two very classy guys. We purged the place of their residue with only about three and a half hours' worth of sweat. Fully settling in will take a bit longer.

As for the typewriter, it's unusable. I'm hoping that prison ingenuity can help me find a fix. Because it's not the brand and model currently sold by the prison canteen (an almost useless piece of crap), ERDCC won't let me send it out for repair. So I've got a grievance to file and desperately hope that I win. Meanwhile, my long-delayed novel (and so much else) will have to wait a while longer still. I'm trying very hard not to panic.

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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.