Wednesday, July 1, 2020


While the people I deal with at Trinity Church (the "clients") are essentially the homeless, working poor, or sponging-off-the-system poor, it's not a given that they're criminals and/or ex-cons as well. But considering that the USA has 5% of the world's population but 25% of its incarcerated population, ya gotta figure there will have to be some jailbirds thrown into the mix.

A few weeks ago, I served a tough-looking black guy and his sloppy but busty girlfriend their pantry allotment, which on that particular day was really a lot of groceries and produce. After handing him several pounds of onions and potatoes with the explanation that he'd been lucky to arrive on that day, he responded with heartfelt appreciation "good money." 

"Good money" is an expression I heard on numerous occasions when I was in prison - and never until that day - out of it. What would that tell you? I was momentarily back in the clink.

And just yesterday, another streetwise black man came for his pantry who was just as loud, demanding and in-your-face as he was threatening-looking. I'd been serving a family of 7 before returning and missed the beginning of the interchange. But it was like walking in on the middle of a porn flick. You knew where it had been. And you knew where it was going. I simply stood and watched as regardless of his behavior, homey was lavished with a heavy bag of potatoes and another of onions in addition to his grocery bag. As his friend (he wasn't there alone) attempted to tote all this produce by himself, homey offered "you gonna haul all 'dem shits, nigguh?" Which was exactly what I expected to hear out of the guy's mouth.

My co-workers shook their collective heads and rolled their eyes in a combination of relief and dismay as the man left. I looked at Alex (my boss), who is a refined, cultured, 30-something gay Asian man and informed him "ya wanna know what it's like to serve time at MCC? That guy was it - times 750!" 

I knew sooo many inmates just like that dude - and so well that I knew exactly what he was going to say (to the word) when his friend tried to haul off all his pantry allotment. I know it's a funny thing. But there have been times (like when watching the film "Platoon") that I almost felt as if I'd missed something by not fighting the Vietnam War. Not so with serving time in prison. That war I fought. And there's an odd satisfaction somehow. I'd never want to go back. But there was something to be gained from that year.

1 comment:

  1. I could always come help you flush a backed up toilet to relive an experience.