Some people live in a world that the rest of us can't even begin to recognize.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 3: My Cell

I got dressed in a white t-shirt, a blue cotton prison shirt, blue cotton prison pants, socks and plastic sandals.  They called the sandals "shower shoes."  The clothing was stained, written on with markers, ripped, faded through in areas, and clearly worn by many women before me.  That part did not bother me.  The fact that I was required to wear underwear that had been worn repeatedly by complete strangers (ugh, and criminal strangers) was something that bothered me. And, what?  I only got one of each object?  One pair of underpants?  One shirt, pants and t-shirt?  One pair of socks?     

After dressing in my prison blues, I was handed a wool blanket, two sheets, a pillowcase, a small towel and a washcloth. I was also given a baggie containing a bar of soap, a small comb, a mini "shank-proof" toothbrush, and several small plastic containers of toothpaste.  And a hard plastic cup.  That was the sum total of my possessions.

I was led to the female pod of the jail.  Cell door A was opened for me.  I walked in.  The door was closed quickly, and I heard the lock latch into place. The cell contained a concrete slab about 2 feet off the floor for the bed, a stainless steel sink/toilet combo and... nothing else except a small, barred window.  Since there was already someone sleeping on the concrete slab I was not at all sure what I was expected to do.  I curled up in a corner and wrapped myself in the blanket.  The floor was concrete, but looked clean, so I made a pillow out of the sheets and pillowcase.

About an hour later the cell door opened, and an officer threw a thin plastic mattress, a plastic pillow, and a plastic boat shaped object into the room. I assumed, correctly, that this was my bed. I put the sheets and pillowcase around the mattress and pillow, laid the mattress in the boat, and tried to sleep. I wondered if I had somehow missed out on getting pajamas, but was later to discover that we were expected to wear the outfit we were given 24 hours a day.  Twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) we would be given a new change of clothes.  For someone who had changed my underwear daily since I could dress myself, this was a nightmare.

An odd smell permeated the room.  Suddenly, the sleeping cellmate rolled over and looked up.  Oh, no.  It was Kelly, the woman who produced that very smell for the many hours we spent together in the holding cell.   I had to wear someone else's drawers AND live in an enclosed room with someone with bad body odor? Could it get any worse?

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