This morning I was writing, like I do many mornings, and was rockin’ out in my writing flow. My ear buds were firmly seated in my ears and my back to the door. My cell is situated in a way that keeps my back to the door when I’m writing. And as a practice for any audio device, headphones/ear buds must be used as a common sense approach to community respect. It’s actually a rule! The newest staff member of our unit (new to the job overall, really) walked by and he wanted to let me know about something he discovered associated with my cell. So he tried to get my attention. I felt a disturbance, like I was being watched, just as he was putting his key in to open my door. So I turned and opened the door, and he said what he wanted me to know and went about his business.
By this point, I put my Covid mask on and left to see what was going on outside my crate. I needed the break anyway. As I left the cell, there were several people asking me “What was that all about?”… When I asked what were the talking about, they described the officer as “beating the shit out of my door”, drawing lots of attention on the block. I guess he even kicked my door to get my attention, but I was focused and unaware. However, it rattled my neighbors. Among us inmates, we know not to do that. Many in here have spent years in solitary confinement and the banging on doors reintroduces old traumas. For guys like me, if I hear it, the pounding echo sounds like IEDs from long ago. Because WE know that, we all are very accustomed to flicking the light on and off to get the attention of a cell occupant (it can be done from the front of the cell).
It made me contemplate for a moment how important those little aspects of prison living need to be made aware of. I felt bad for the officer because it’s a nuance he doesn’t know. Those subtle things can change the dynamics immensely. He had several of my neighbors angry about the pounding, when there were alternatives like the light, having the door opened from a control booth, or starting with his key. Really, it just shows that both common sense and empathy need to go hand in hand. I had to smile in amazement at how in-tune us inmates are with each other to know what works for all of us. Now that’s community!
by Rory Andes
It’s the little things that help make life work…
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