Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Trick Box

Today, I almost got in a fight. Well, not really, but for me it was close to a fight - I actually thought about punching the guy. For me, having never been in a fight, that is close to a fight.

They guy changed the TV channel on me.

Yep, that's right. He changed the channel. Do you feel the rage building inside of you also? Hmm. Didn't think so. Pretty stupid, huh? That's why it's called the "trick box".

I had read that more fights occur in prison over TV disputes than anything else. Now I see why.

Today was the first day of the Masters Golf Tournament (some of you already know where this is going). Coverage was from 3-6p. There are 3 TVs in our dorm TV room. One is for sports and it was tuned to the golf tournament; maybe 10 of us were watching it.

Then the CO standing count occurred which requires us to return to our room down the hall, so the CO can verify that all inmates are accounted for. The count finished at 4:15p. My room is at the end of the hall and I made it to the TV room about 10 seconds behind someone else, who was changing the channel to some sports talk show.

A "conversation" ensued in which he basically admitted that it was his calculated strategy to get to the room after the count before anyone else, which, since the room is "empty," gives him the right to change the channel, even though he knew we were watching golf.

It was such a brazenly calculated and rude act, I was stunned. I was also steamed.

Nonetheless, I walked away.

After a 20 minute delay, I walked down to the visitor's room and watched it there. No big deal. Except I was still steamed.

That's why it is called the trick box. It "tricks" you into doing something you will regret and pay for in spades. Several inmates since laughed at my story and said, "Stay away from the TV room."

In any case, I have only 3 months and then I'm outtahere. If someone wants to be rude to me again, I am ready now. I'm just gonna walk away. I am not going to be suckered in by the trick box.

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