How the package thing works.
I am entitled to receive two food packages a month, not to exceed 35 pounds in total. Books, cosmetics and clothing are not subject to any limits. At this point the only food package I have received in the last two years is the one that you kindly reshipped (and added to). So at this point you sending me a food package would not be a problem.
As you know I manage to feed myself off the food that is available from the commissary. While the items are supposed to be priced at a wholesale level, but the current supplier has jacked up a lot of the prices. The deal is they do put the contract out for bids, but the winning bid only has to hold the prices for thirty days. Then he can raise them to allegedly reflect his increase in cost. For example we are now paying $1.60 for a 16 ounce can of mackerel and one of the catalog companies (Bust a Move) sells it for the some price.
Why is any of this relevant to you? Well I used to be able to buy enough food to feed my self for two weeks, and even purchase extras like a daily dose of chocolate. Lately, and last week in particular I has just enough available spending limit to buy what I consider my basic three meal a day requirement. We are limited to spending $55 per biweekly shopping trip. This limit used to include tobacco products but they have since removed them from that limit. That was a boost for those that smoke, but since I do not smoke, it did not change my limit.
Wah, wah, wah. Okay so now the package option becomes a source for items that are not sold in the store or for buying treats that I can not fit in my $55. On the one hand the $55 limit is a forced saving mechanism. Since I receive $15 a week from my job, plus the $100 a month from my mom, I can not spend more than $110 every four weeks. The limit does not include postage stamps.
There is one inmate who gets a package every few weeks from a store, which is paid for by his family. Included in the packages were four ounce bags of beef jerky. The first time he sold me two packs of the jerky for one box of Kool cigarettes. The Kools cost me $4.50, so I certainly get the better of that deal.
The point is I really do not physically need any more food. I have gained a few pounds, and that means I am not starving. But emotionally sometimes the diet of oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly, and tuna fish just becomes too much. Ironically most of the time the "pressure" for something different passes. If I were on the street I would jump out to the local pizza parlor or maybe the grocery store and buy something special.
I used to have Mom and Dad send me some items every few months just for the sake of variety. I recently received a catalog from a company called J&E Warehouse. They have a 5 -- 6 pound block of mozzarella cheese for $20.00. Now that is what I am looking for to go with the can of anchovies you sent. They used to sell an 8 ounce package of shredded mozzarella, but now it is that artificial all oil, non milk product that does not melt at all like the real thing. So the point is that once in a while some variety is nice.
Of course the irony is that for the first eight and a half years between my time in the various county jails and Club Fed, I was not able to have any packages sent in and I survived. This is one of those no right answer life questions.
One of the guys near me, who is going home in a couple of months, just got a humongous food package with real chickens, real sliced American cheese and all sorts of goodies. What is the right thing? I guess it depends on who your friends are.
Now I do not mean that to reflect at all on you as my friend. I am not expecting you to send me anything. I am grateful for all your support and true friendship. The point I was thinking of is what I just was sharing with Ray Carlton, you have to be willing to acknowledge that different people will offer their help in different ways. So if you were to send me some jerky it would be a great gift, give me a taste of something I read about in the Times and we have been kicking around for how many letters. Does any of this make sense?
I just spent the last hour talking with Ray. His wife came to visit him yesterday with her mother. It turns out his wife has a bunch of different cancers flowing in her that make treatment options next to impossible. She has been given xx amount of time to live. Her mom tells Ray that she is going out to the car now, he has the next three hours with her daughter and then he is done. Mind you this is not how his wife feels.
And if that was not enough, his mom is suffering from cancer too and was in the hospital for the last month with a collapsed lung. His family kept making excuses for her when he called saying she was out at this or the other place when he called. On top of that one of his brothers has MS and he is only around 18 and his medical provider has said he has only a year or two left. Yeah sometimes life just keeps coming at you.
Meanwhile my neighbor Tyrell wants to stomp on Ray because Ray apparently claimed some fish filets he was supposed to bring back from the mess hall were taken by the officers, when in fact they were diverted by Ray to an alternative inmate. Life is fun here at Camp Run-a-Muk.
It is now almost 2:00. I am going to jump in the shower and get ready for my 3:30 ART (Aggression Replacement Training) class. This is finally the last week. Only four more classes. Yeah. Depending on what I "feel" like when I return at 5:30, this might be the last page of the letter, or page three of a longer letter.