Speaking of cheap,
the way the inmate accounting system works here they sort of freeze your account from the day or two before commissary to the day after. Even though I have more than the maximum I could possibly spend today, the letter I mailed last night which may need an extra ounce of postage, may not have left the prison this morning as it should have. If I am lucky they did mail it and are just waiting till tomorrow to post the 63¢ debit to my account. If not, it will be delayed.
Well tonight's letter will go out in the regular fashion tomorrow morning as I will not be typing more than four pages in the next hour or so. I did go up and meet with the chaplain, but since he had to go over to C Block to notify an inmate of a death in the family, I got to come back a little earlier than planned. In celebration of the extra time, I decided to spend it talking to you.
Sugar and Caffeine and other things nice. Today is the great Tuesday bi-weekly commissary day. Since around 2:30 PM I have had one pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream and am starting my third Dr. Pepper@, along with a half a box of Banquet Southern Fried Style Chicken®, one 2 oz. bag of M&M's® and just to help me carry my two bags of food up the hill, one Banjo. No, I did not have it on my knee. In this case a Banjo is a vanilla ice cream, chocolate coated pop. The wrapper is marked with a 25c price but we pay only 17¢. What a bargain!
I most definitely perform better with a ton of sugar and caffeine in my system. The chicken is a little bit of a negative since I try hard to avoid fat in most of my other food; my mouth now feels like I swallowed a quart of 10W30 motor oil.
Guards, Corrections Officers, and Civilian Employees.
In the federal system, all employees of the prison were considered "guards." With the exception of the chaplains, all employees were required to pass annual firearms training, and even the secretaries could be called upon to be the "guard" in the dorm area. While you might occasionally have a correction officer assist one of the other employees, there was not as a rule officers in the education, chapel and recreation areas. The staff hired to work in those areas: teachers, chaplains, and recreation personnel all were responsible for policing their own areas.
Here in NY State prisons, you have correction officers and civilian employees. In the Recreation area, we have two or three employees that set up the various leagues etc., but the running of the Rec yard is all done by correction officers. We have civilian workers in the maintenance department. An electrician, plumber, heating and air conditioning guy, locksmith, plus a few others. We also have a correction officer that is present any time we inmates are there working.
One application of this dual control is that during our time in the chapel, it is the officers that can toss an inmate out of the chapel even if the chaplain does not have a problem with him or her. Same thing with me working on the chapel computer; it was the officer that made the stink.
Today, I was cutting some Plexiglas for use as temporary windows. Now the one guard that usually works in maintenance has a real bug about leaving scraps of Plexiglas around. It makes for great weapons material because it is not picked up by the metal detectors. As he is the civilian with the keys to the cabinet where the Plexiglas is stored, I ask him to please open the cabinet. He says he will, and continues into the tool room.
Time passes, and it is now two o'clock and time to clean up. I turn my tool in and again ask him to please open the cabinet. He says he will. I explain I just want to put the extra pieces away as soon as possible. He responds that he knows, but still does not open the cabinet; I am frustrated because I know that he will not be the one who gets in trouble if the pieces are not put away. Urgh. I bite my tongue because anything I say now can and would be used against me. He eventually gives the keys to another staff member who comes to open the two padlocks.
Dinner time, I am going to take a break and cook some pasta. Be back in a bit.
I am back. The reason this break was so long in the first place was I had promised to type a letter for another inmate who thinks he is being cheated out of 200 or so days of jail time. It will be interesting to see how that one comes out.
It is now 8:00 PM and I still have to take a shower. The rest of the dorm is now out at the Rec yard and will be returning in thirty minutes or so. I love listening to all my fellow inmates bragging about what tough guys they were on the street and how fast they can rattle off their first, second and even third bids (prison sentences) and they are not even thirty yet.
I better go take my shower now before they all get back. I was cutting Plexiglas on the table saw today, so I need to give my bod a good rinse. Let me take a quick shower then return. I also need to take inventory and fill out the commissary sheet. So much to do, so little time. Off to the shower I go. Or as some people might enjoy telling me, go soak your head.
Hazardous Duty for Exterminator Pete.
Despite the respite we had over the last couple weeks, the usual civilian staff member is back in the tool cage. He goes out of his way to make my life difficult. On Friday, he volunteered me to go spray the wasp’s nests that were being built in a couple of outdoor bus shelters that they use for transferring inmates.
There is no shortage of inmates sitting around doing nothing on Friday afternoon, but I am busy at work and still I get picked. I hear him telling one of the officers how he would never go out to spray a nest without two cans. Makes sense to me, but he only gives me one can.
There are two bus shelters and they have a typical roof structure for shed-type buildings. The roof is plywood on top of a 2x4 frame. The frame is exposed on the inside and the roofing nails are sticking through the plywood.
Well there have got to be ten or more nests actively being built in the first shed alone. Some are up in the edges or the roof area while a few of the more creative wasps are building their new homes right out in the middle of the ceiling using just the point of a roofing nail to anchor the hive.
I read the directions on the can before I started spraying and it said it kills the wasps "INSTANTLY." Unfortunately my definition of instantly and the wasps' definition are certainly not the same.
These cans shoot out a direct stream of chemicals, and it supposedly can be used up to twenty feet away. I was not that far away and I was certainly not going to be stingy with the spray.
I finished the first shed and the first can of spray at about the same time. I checked the second shed and there were another ten or so nests being built there. I say being built, because each of the nests had one or more wasps working away at home construction.
I had a little left in the can but thought it would not be a good idea to only be able to hit one or two of the nests and then what happens when the other wasps find out some damn human is executing his (or her?) family.
So I returned to the shop to get another can of spray and am questioned as to why I used up one whole can and only did the one shed. Great! First you stick me with a potentially dangerous job: wasp stings and exposure to dangerous chemicals; and then you decide I am using too much spray! My apologies to New York taxpayers; I do not purposely waste money, mine or others!
The end of the story is I did go back to the second shed with another full can and wiped out all the wasps. I did not get stung. I did explain to the wasps in shed two as I was spraying them that they were all supposed to die instantly, and they willing obliged.
I did feel a little regret, but the sheds are where my fellow inmates have to stand around sometimes for an hour or more waiting for their bus to come. They are all cuffed and shackled at this point so it would not be easy to run away from an attacking wasp.
Where to start? My life of late has been a series of depressing events, and it is just getting so hard to find anything to latch onto that can lift me up.
The one consistent thing in my life at this point is your letters and for some unknown reason they seem to be having a tough time making it over the razor wire. Your latest letter arrived today. Better than the week or so the last few letters have taken but still not back to the two-day delivery it should be.
I am very grateful for the latest letter and that it did arrive today as for some unknown reason, the Friday and Saturday New York Times did not show up today. Your letter was the only mail I received and it is always nice to get anything in Monday's mail to start off the week.
Okay it is really nice to get mail each and every day. Alas as things are at present, with the exception of your letters the only other consistent mail I get is the stuff I pay for (or more accurately Mom and Dad pay for).
Depressing events. It is not really any particular event or events that I could create an itemized list of. The feeling is somewhat akin to me knowing when it was three weeks since my last appointment with the psychologist while I was in Club Fed.
Like a gas tank getting low on fuel and you hope the fumes will carry you to the next station. The psychologist would fill my tank up, give me the ability to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and off I would go for another twenty-one days or so. Here not only is there no live person that can offer me any gas for my tank, but the system is such that it makes sure it takes any “up” feeling you may have and stomps on it.
When I came back from work today, the old man I have mentioned a few times (the one I share the fried chicken with) pulled me aside and told me that I had better be prepared for a prison strike on Thursday. He said that the inmates were talking about stabbing me, and others that work in maintenance, if we dared to go to work on Thursday!
This is the first I have heard about this strike. The good news is that by the time you are reading this, whatever is going to happen will have already occurred. I suppose I could sign up for sick call Wednesday evening and go to sick call on Thursday morning (before work) complaining about my back and seek an excuse from work.
I am not at all sure how serious this whole strike thing is and frankly can not see all the kids here actually working together along those lines. But time will tell. Maybe I will be pulled out for a medical trip and that will solve my problem.
One last “is it fair?” comment. Just keep in mind that while there is certainly a rational argument that can be made, be careful because if you have not learned anything else from all my ranting, is that once one is caught in the web that we call our justice system, it and not you gets to decide where your particular infraction falls.
True you might be able to get some community support on your side, but that also does not always have any positive effect on the outcome. Certainly the lack of any type of support while I wasted away in the County Jail for sixteen months added to the ability of the court to pile the time on me, but again I have seen way too many cases where the time given does not match the crime in relation to what others have gotten.
The recent drunk driver case in Suffolk will be interesting to watch in relation to the plea deal that lawyer got. And yes remember he killed one person in the car he hit and seriously injured one of the others.
Enough woe is me for now.
What Happened to Prison Pete?
[Editor] Nothing has happened to Prison Pete. Nothing at all. He is still rotting away in a NY State prison. Unfortunately, something negative has happened to me, his Editor and friend on the outside who posts his blog for him.
I had planned to resume blog posts after I returned from my vacation the first week of September, but instead I returned to find that my company had done some restructuring and my position (and many others) had been eliminated. After 11 years with the same company, I was laid off and am currently unemployed.
Besides the obvious loss of salary and benefits, one of the things I lost along with my job was access to a high speed scanner at work that I was using to convert Pete's letters to machine readable format for posting. Now I have to figure out a new way to convert Pete's letters to postable text short of actually retyping them myself, which would be just too painful and time consuming. One letter a week I can handle, but not one per day like he was doing for a while.
In the last couple of weeks I've been very busy getting my resume together and looking for a new job, so the blog has been neglected. But I still have some of Pete's letters that I scanned before vacation which I can post. After that, I'll just have to do the best I can with the resources I have available.
Meanwhile I've got some job prospects and am cautiously optimistic. The job market seems better now than it was a few years ago. I'll keep you all informed of my progress.