I never thought I’d ever spend 76 straight days in a room the size of a large bathroom. With a toilet, sink, shower, table, and bunk beds taking up the 100 square feet room, I’m left with about 40 square feet to do whatever I want. All the luxury and freedom to do what I want in the remaining 8’ x 5’ space! Many of you may wonder how I could possibly do it, knowing how active I have always been. Well, I’m still the same person – active and busy – only in a small space. What’s the difference? One can make it as boring, hard and miserable as they want……or make it as easy and fun as they want it to be. I choose the latter.
First full day in here: my cellie and I just got done eating lunch and we’re wondering if they were going to give us something to drink or if they forgot. About 2 minutes late the trap door opens, and two cups with pink liquid are set on the tray. I immediately take them, give one to my cellie and say, “Wow, good timing, pink lemonade.” I took two big swallows before I realized that this was not pink lemonade, and started gagging, as it turned out to be cleaning solution. Why it was in a glass I have no idea!!! To say the least, my insides were very clean and I was on the toilet for the rest of the day! Otherwise, no harm done!
Every 20 days we have to rotate cells…..those are the rules. There are 18 cells in our hallway and we just move to the next one down each time we rotate. These are always the worst days for me as I get comfortable and all settled in one place, the cell is clean and organized just the way I like it, and then we have to move in to another cell which has been used by others the last 20 days. Thankfully, we follow somewhat clean people, but, of course, since I am a clean freak, I need to scrub things down and wash everything before I want to be “at home”. Unfortunately, my “smelly” cellie doesn’t care about cleanliness and just plops his stuff down and goes about his business while I do the cleaning. He doesn’t seem to mind other people’s filth. I think I got the cleanliness attitude from my mom. When my mom stays at a hotel room, she immediately strips the beds of their comforter/bedspread, and she never takes off her shoes to walk on the floor. (I could be mistaken, but she may also wear socks to bed, along with a hoodie over her head, long pants and some sort of gloves, so not a single part of her skin touches the sheets and blankets. When she gets home she burns those clothes in a backyard fire just to be rid of them. HA! I’m kidding, of course….or maybe not. SMILE!)
So I think of my cell like a hotel room without the housekeeper, a television, pillows and a nice mattress to sleep on – or at least I pretend it is to keep my spirits high. I never walk with my shoes off and I’m constantly washing my hands. I won’t tell you what my cellie does or, should I say, doesn’t do, as it’ll probably turn your stomach. I just shake my head in disgust at him.
Anyway, after the cleaning is done, my mind then thinks outside the box. Every cell is exactly the same, and completely different also. What I mean by that is there’s always something that needs to be fixed with either the shower, toilet, sink or all three.
One example: The sinks in the cells are like a drinking fountain. The water shoots up and down for easy access to get a drink of water without a cup. You push a button and it turns on for a few seconds and automatically shuts off. Some sinks shoot too far and actually go over the edge onto the ground, and other faucets just trickle out water. There is no happy medium. So you have to think of ways outside the box to make the sink work the way it needs to, or you could be without water for the three weeks in the cell until it’s time to rotate. Remember, there are no supplies to work with in the cell. So while my cellie continues to sit in other people’s filth, I’m busy taking things apart to make a top-notch prison sink. Well, I really don’t take apart anything but my pen. I disassemble my pen and use the plastic, bendable outer tube casing which has a hole that runs straight through. I take some tape I got from envelopes and wrap the tape around the base of the pen casing a few times. I shove the pen casing down the water fountain drain, wrapping enough tape around to cover the access space that the pen casing doesn’t cover so no water will shoot out when you turn on the faucet. I have to shove it down deep enough so that it gets stuck and won’t shoot out with the water pressure when it is turned on. Then I bend the other end of the pen casing so it points down, making an arc, taking a twisty tie that I found and more tape, and then tape and tie the pen casing so that it is pointing down. I then push the bottom to turn the water on and instantly get a nice Kohler sink with no deficiencies! SMILE! The water fountain just became a sink with a pen, tape, and twisty tie.
The inventions one can come up with when there is a lack of supplies and when you have the time to think. I’ll be able to fix anything when I get out of here. SMILE! Put me on a deserted island and I’ll build a mansion with coconuts and leaves! Until next time…….and more stories from the crib (Crib is prison slang for Cell)