Smart phones are a blessing AND a curse. The conveniences they offer tend to make their owners lazy. For example, who memorizes phone numbers anymore? I don’t! Imagine that after waiting for hours to make a call, I sat in the bullpen staring at the phone as if it were some kind of sculpture at a museum. After several minutes of contemplation, I finally picked up the receiver and gave making a call my best shot.
Either the numbers I dialed were wrong or no one was taking my calls because I came up goose-eggs after about 10 tries. Would I have to notify people that I was in jail via *gasp* snail mail? Maybe. Considering that I had no access to matches or the roof, smoke signals were out of the question.
Fortunately for me, who had to be the friendliest C.O. in North America retrieved me from the bullpen to complete the intake process. She led me to a desk in an office adjacent to the cell. Lo and behold, the envelope containing my personal belongings, including my phone, sat on the desk. I was invited to take a seat. The C.O. asked me a series of questions and recorded my answers on a workstation that was also on the desk. Long story short, once the interview was done and the C.O. escorted me back to the bullpen, I was holding a slip of paper bearing several phone numbers. Before she had the gate locked behind me, I was working that phone like a telemarketer. Once again, even with valid phone numbers, my calls went unanswered!
But I still wasn’t trippin’. I just swore to God that someone somewhere was going to figure out that I was in the pokey and do what had to be done. In the meantime, I got “comfortable” as it were and swapped war stories with my remaining cellies. To the smiling C.O.’s credit, she was getting guys out of there at a pretty good clip.
About 8:30 PM, I was finally transferred from the bullpen to the intake cellblock. Like the bullpen, intake is well air conditioned. The block is shaped like a “T” with a wide stem. Four metal picnic tables sit parallel to eachother in a row down the middle of the stem, forming aisles on either side. These aisles are lined with 2-man cells as is the very top of the arm of the “T”.
At the base of the “T”, suspended from the ceiling is a flat screen TV with a very limited channel selection. There is no HBO or Showtime, which has to be some kind of human rights violation.
I was directed to my assigned cell and waiting behind the gate was one of my bullpen cellies. “Not this guy again”, he quipped. I chuckled as I walked past him into the cell and began to make myself at home. The entire jail was on lockdown, a condition under which all inmates must be locked in their cells, and intake was no exception. The C.O. slid the gate shut behind me with a loud metallic clang. It was definitely bed time.
The cell is maybe 10′ deep × 8′ wide with another of those infamous concrete slabs lining the left and rear walls. My cellie had already taken the slab on the left wall. This cell was an improvement over the bullpen in one regard — a 4″ thick vinyl mattress pad was there for either the relative comfort of inmates or to save wear and tear on the slabs. I don’t typically suffer from chronic back pain, but after a night on that thing, I suspected that might change.