Friday, June 27, 2008

Follow up to Chairing a Meeting

A friend was asking me about my prison experience and I thought I would share some of the details I shared with her.

The prison is the county lockup, so everyone there is serving a year or less. When we drove up, the gigantic fence with huge rolls of barbed wire on top was kind of surreal to me. We checked in, left our licenses and signed the book. You can't take your purse or phone or anything with you. You go through a machine that normally blows air on you to detect if you're carrying any narcotics (it would blow particles off and detect them somehow) but it wasn't working. The guard did the wand thing and then let us through. Oh, and we brought Big Books which had to go through the x-ray machine.

There are both men and women, though they are kept separate of course. If there's a line of each and they're going to intersect, they stop the one line until the other passes, so they don't get anywhere near each other. At one point when we were leaving, we were walking behind the line of women from the meeting, and a door to a glassed-in side room opened - this guy stuck his head out and was saying I love you to one of our girls. She said it back and the guard snagged the door and shut it hard as he went past.

It was weird, I wasn't the least bit intimidated by the inmates, either men or women, but the guards... they were scary to me. Which I guess is the whole point - but they are just very serious, business like, most are really big guys, and call you ma'am and they watch EVERYTHING, like you know they don't miss a single detail. The only guard who didn't come off that way was the one at the front who checked us in. He was more laid back and friendly.... and unfortunately smelled either of booze or very bad cologne. We couldn't quite tell which.

I'm still really happy with how it went, and looking forward to taking the commitment again. When I told my girlfriend that went with me that I would do it again, she said, 'Welcome to the prison commitment. There are only about ten of us who do this.' I think that's a shame, but I'm glad to be a part of it.

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