I just got out of jail. Waltzed right on through the exit, no one tried to stop me. Getting out was easy. Getting in was the hard part. Two-point-two-five million Americans inmates have managed to get behind bars, but I had trouble just finding the place.
Or rather, I found the place okay. The jail is conveniently located on the same damn road I live on. Even someone with the directional integrity of a turnip, i.e. me, can manage to drive her vehicle on a straight road, like so:
- Turn key in ignition
- Stop at red lights
- Don’t stop at green lights
- Turn left at the sign that says “Jail”
… and for added bonus points, park car by the sign that says “Visitor Parking.” And for super extra bonus points, remove key from ignition.
All this I managed admirably, despite the raging case of nerves I’d felt all evening. I haven’t had a case of butterflies like that in ages. Public speaking, job interviews, tuba auditions—all that stuff is a piece of cake compared to deliberately going to jail. I did toy with the idea of drinking a beer beforehand, but decided it was in my best interests to be completely sober when entering a penal institution.
Anyway, following that inspired final step (“Remove key from ignition”), I walked up to a door and was about to enter when I remembered that I was wearing earrings. About three millliseconds after that, I remembered I was wearing my nipple ring.
Having my nipple ring trigger the metal detector was not high on my list of Exciting New Experiences To Try Someday. My list of Exciting New Experiences To Try Someday had not heretofore included “discreetly removing my nipple ring in the privacy–and I use that word loosely– of my car in a jail parking lot” but it beat the alternative. I will however mention my immense relief that no officer of the law moseyed by during that time.
The jail, at least the part I saw of it, was okay. It was not, as I had been warned, stinky. The nice officer at the visitors’ desk looked at my ID and then gave me directions to the visiting room.
I got lost.
This is a jail we’re talking about, here, consisting exclusively of long, well-lighted hallways and 90-degree angles. Jails are designed for the express purpose of ensuring that no one gets lost. I would therefore like to offer my services to architects around the world. They can perform usability tests on me: if their blueprints are simple enough that I can navigate the design, then they may be confident that theirs is a truly functional plan. My fees would be reasonable.
Ruing the prohibition against foodstuffs, and therefore breadcrumbs, I eventually managed to make my way back to the nice officer. To her credit she did not roll her eyes. Instead she called someone else for alternate directions, which turned out to be exactly the same (“Go down this hall, then turn right”) but my sophomore effort did succeed, largely because I got a glimpse of Bobby the second time through. His hair was longer, and he’d put on ten pounds, and he was wearing this really unflattering orange jumpsuit, but it was him, all right.
For a guy who 1.) tried to kill himself a month ago by 2.) exploding himself, which led to 3.) accidentally setting the apartment building on fire, causing 4.1.) human damage and 4.2) property damage, resulting in 5.) his being held indefinitely on for indeterminate probation violation, Bobby’s doing okay. Physically he’s fine, and his conversation did not strike me as that of a man who’s plotting to commit suicide. He was glad to see me, and we made jokes, and even talked about what he might do in the future. When I mentioned that his actions had led me to fantasize about jumping careers into law enforcement, he said that he was fantasizing about becoming a lawyer.
“Do it,” I said. “If it turns out that you’re stuck here for years and years, why not?”
“I don’t think they’d let me practice in here.”
“Well,” I said, “it’s true that you’d have to—”
[wait for it, this is great…]
[wait for it…]
“—pass the bar.”
Of immediate concern is his reading material. I did of course inquire as to his provisions with regard to the basic necessities of life, viz., books and pen and paper. He’s got the ink and the paper, but the books are a problem. He’s stuck with a James Patterson (“That violates the eighth amendment!” I shrieked) but his alternative was a romance novel, which, as he delicately explained, was not something he cared to be seen reading in a men’s correctional facility.
Remind me to donate a shitload of books to the prison.
Bobby hasn’t been charged yet. Possible charges range from the deeply discomfiting (attempted murder) to the frankly ridiculous (terrorism), but I told him not to despair. I did not offer legal counsel—though really, I’ve read a ton of police procedurals and I’ve got a legal thriller checked out from the library right now, I’m sure I’m qualified—but I told him to hang in there.
I imagine Bobby feels better after the visit. I know I do. I am proud to announce that I did not cry at all during the thirty minutes, and all this evening I’ve been walking around with the feeling that I did something good—and not just something good, but something that no one else was in a position to offer.
It’s very easy to do something and then go find a way to justify it. I gather that good Christian living involves reading the Bible and then acting accordingly, in that specific order, but I had already made my decision to visit Bobby in jail when I received a message from commenter Brian. Probably it’s premature to nominate me for sainthood, but still, this was a nice bit of Scripture to read:
From Matthew 25:
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for … I was in prison and you visited me.”
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, … when was it that we saw you … in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
So here’s the burning question I present to you: are saints allowed to have nipple rings? Discuss.