The three best things a new guy in jail can have are a bunk, a book, and a friend who knows how to navigate hell.
Today I got a chance to see the distance I’ve traveled in the past two months. A new species entered the tank. Let’s give him the blog-name, Raby. A white male, early 40’s who has never been in jail!! He’s scared, sleeps a lot, cries (quietly), doesn’t eat much, casts his eyes downward and looks confused…the deer-in-the-headlights kind of confusion….THARN!! (Google it!)
He was given Bunk 13, which is at the other end of “the tank” from me…that’s the LOUD END. The bunk bed next to me (#11) was empty so I asked him if he wanted to move into that spot. “Yes”….a big YES was his immediate reply.
As we talked, he seemed to mellow out a little. I remember when I was thrown a lifeline…I think I had been here about a week. I was asked if I wanted to move closer to a couple of tribesmen who’d been nice to me…one had offered me a book to read. After a week without pencil, paper and books, I felt blessed! Being able to simply chitchat with those men made a huge difference in the quality of my life. They gave me hope that I might survive this journey through Hell. “THROUGH” is the operative word here because initially I was convinced that I had entered the realm of the Devil himself and I was destined to suffer everlasting punishment.
I still have days when I wonder if I will ever get out of here. But, for the most part, I know…I believe there is Life Beyond The Tank. For now, I have befriended Raby, hoping to share that belief and encourage it in him.
Last thing Raby said to me as he tucked in to find sleep was “Thank you, you’ve saved my life.” That is difficult for me to believe yet I remember feeling that way too when Rod offered me that book. A little kindness can make a difference in the life of a fellow human. Smile at a stranger today and say hello.
Raby is expecting to leave the day after Christmas so I’ll have maybe a week with him. His presence is a gift to me.
By Patrick Leonard
Transmissions From The 12th Circle
Originally posted on Notes From The Inside Out
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Photo: Flickr/Matteo Parrini