Thursday, June 16, 2011

Life in County Jail

  Needless to say from the title, there was an unexpected turn for the worst.  This hero thing can be a little overrated at times.  However, as much as I am tempted to forget about the world and just look out for #1, something inside still compels me to help others and this time it really came back to bite me in the a$$.

I don't know what it is about me but trouble seems to find me wherever I go.  I don't even look for it, it just stalks me relentlessly until it finds the perfect moment to strike.  As for this past incident I really thought I was doing the right thing.  I decided to step in and help out a friend who was clearly out of control and now I am beginning to question the wisdom of that decision.  Some people will just never change and I really need to allow that idea sink in.  The only thing I managed to accomplish was to do more damage to my already shattered life, and subject myself to the agony that is the San Diego jail system.

     Whatever you do don't get caught being bad in San Diego because they will surely make you suffer.  It would seem that their primary method of torture is to brutalize you with time, and they are definitely the experts.  They have no problem with conveniently forgetting to remove you from a holding cell for hours on end.  Meanwhile, you are all packed in there like sardines surrounding an open stall covered in p!ss, sh!t, and vomit.  Intake procedures take forever.   It took them a day and a half just to book me.  They call it "processing" but really it's just them sitting on their a$$e$ eating Kung Pao chicken with chop sticks they don't even know how to use.  I can't lie though for a while I was giving  them hell, especially after they forced a needle in my arm to take a blood test which kinda p!ssed me off.  I retaliated when they tried to take my mug shot photo.  Right before the snap I would stick out my tongue of pucker a kiss for the camera and it really pissed them off big time.  I didn't give a damn what were they gonna do to me..throw me in jail?  Finally, the camera lady became fed up, jumped out of her seat and left.  They wrote "photo refused" on the card, tossed me into a lone cell and left me there until the morning.  The guard that eventually came for me seemed like less of a jacka$$ then the rest so I decided to cut them a break the second time around.  Afterward, they just continuously move you from cell to cell all day long and every time they each got smaller and smaller. You are fed the same thing for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner.."sack lunch".  When they toss you that brown bag there is absolutely no mystery as to what's inside.  Bologna & Cheese on crusty stale-a$$ bread, a soggy a$$ sugar cookie and a carton of skim milk.  Sometimes, they tossed in an orange and honestly that was the main thing that kept me alive since I pretty much refused to eat the rest.  I really wasn't trying to display my bowel movement tactics to a group of people trapped in a small box with me because I was pretty sure that eating anything besides the fruit would have consequences & repercussions.  After about 10 different holding cells later we finally made it to the bail-out tank. I was elated because this was the final tank before being released into the custody of the bail bondsman.  That excitement quickly plummeted, though, when plans for bail fell through.  As the notion of freedom faded they escorted the few remaining unreleased to a new special room.  Here we had the please of all together stripping naked, bending down and spreading our butt-cheeks to heave that strong *cough* (what a job for that guy, looking at people moon him all day).  Threw on the criminal blues,  hung out in a few more holding tanks and then finally the move upstairs to the main container.  Here the living spaces were 2-man living spaces and I finally got a bunk.  A hell of a lot better than the cold steel of an unforgiving metal bench which offered no reward at all for trying to lie down on it. Of course, with my luck I would have to get "Mr. Personality"  as my cellmate whose first words to me were "I don't like roommates".  I guess the food was an upgrade even though it looked and tasted like ALPO dog  food but at at least it was sealed.  The chaplain offered a sign-up sheet for church but none volunteered their signature.  I am sure that faith is easily lost in a place like this so I wasn't really all that surprised.  The deputies or "deps" gave a final call for the chapel at which point myself and one other decided to step up to the plate.  By now, everyone knows I am by no means a religious freak. At the same time, I try to keep an open mind which often means at the very least giving others the opportunity to deliver their own opinions.  Interestingly enough, the guy sitting next to me in the chapel cell seemed to share a similat point of view on religion.  Not quite agnostic or atheist but teetering somewhere in between. His faith had been broken to the point where he felt like he was standing on the edge of a precipice waiting to jump and I could totally relate.  I have to give the chaplain credit though, he maintained a valiant response to the situatiuonbolony most preachers try to use.  Lock down came soon afterward.  I didn't have to worry about making any conversation with Captain Charisma so I just went to bed.

   I woke up the next morning when my cell door popped open for no reason.  The same happening to a few others.  I had no idea what was going on but apparently we were being transferred.  A couple holding cells later (beginning to notice a pattern here) they loaded us onto a bus and proceeded to journey waaay into the middle of the desert.  Somewhere near the Mexican border we approached a building labeled the George Bailey Detention Facility.  We weren't in Kansas anymore because the moment we set foot into this damn place we had officially entered The Thunderdome.

   It had its own set of rules and the chambers themselves were practically inmate-run.  Most of the routine activities like taking a shower, using the bathroom, which phones to use and where to sit in the day room were governed. Even where to walk because certain groups were not allowed to cross certain boundaries, and when I say groups I mean race because it is 100% segregated.  You can be friends with whichever color you want in the holding cells but once you are moved into population you can no longer talk because everyone is immediately profiled and separated into 3 major sets:

Woods (Whites)           Brothers (Blacks)           Southsiders (Hispanics)

  Where I was placed they never slept.  There was always constant commotion whether it be fighting, playing cards, doing push-ups, or just overall causing chaos.  A peaceful night of rest was definitely not on the itinerary.  I had traded being locked in a cell with one knucklehead to being confined with multiple knuckleheads.  They tried to test me at first but respect seemed to settle in after a while.  Those that have been incarcerated before will agree that surviving jail can be boiled down into 3 simple rules:
  1. Keep your mouth shut.
  2. If a riot breaks out, you better jump in or get your ass beat later.
  3. Mind your damn business.
Basic yet effective, but hopefully you won't ever have to use them.

    When the judge decided to release me I was brought back to the detention but they did not immediately let me go at all.  After waiting forever they finally called for me to process me out.  They gave me my clothes back MINUS the jacket.  Packed five us into a little cab and dropped us off at the Mexican border in the middle of the night.

   Once again I have been given a painful reminder of what happens when I deviate from the rules that I have set for myself.  "Keep it moving'", "Don't get too comfortable"..these ideas are no good to me if I don't exercise them and in this particular instance the blow-back was just too severe.

  In light of recent events, I believe a mandatory addition to the drifter set of guidelines is in order..

       Rule #3 of the Nomad Code:

STAY OUT OF JAIL


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