Guest Post: A Jailed Christmas

27 Dec

This is a Christmas tale worth reading. Seth graces our blog with his “this boy is prone to mischief” antics once again.

Walking the Holiday Line

As a 32 year-old male, I now consider myself to be fairly wise, even if I still don’t feel completely mature. To be fair, I set the bar very low in my 20’s, so both wisdom and maturity are still extremely relative. With my current driving privileges somewhat…limited at the moment, and while I was driving past a cop today on Santa Fe here in Denver, I was reminded of the week of Christmas, 2000.

I have never been one to try and make myself out to be some great shining example of a human being. In most time periods of my life, I’ve been nothing but an example of what not to do. Unless you really want to have a lot of fun and regret it later.

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Jealous? Yeah, actually, with that kind of MPG who wouldn't be?

I don’t remember there being a lot of snow on the ground that week, but I also know we weren’t blessed with the joyful tidings of a never-ending autumn like we have been this year. I know there was snow at some point already that year, because I had slid into a gas station pole fixture and dented my Suzuki Swift. Which, by the way, filled up for only $9 and drove me over 400 miles.

That day, 22 year-old me forgot to stop fully before turning right at a red light on my way to work. As a result, I got pulled over, and unfortunately I’d brought some opium with me since me and my friends at work liked to smoke it on our lunch break. Stopping fully at the red light wasn’t the only thing I’d forgotten to do in regards to the law that year. A while back, I also “forgot” to pay a ticket that I got for having no insurance. Strangely enough, neither the cop nor the judge who issued my bench warrant seemed to have forgotten.

As soon as you’re arrested, for whatever reason, cops automatically get the right to search your vehicle. I told them where everything was, hoping that they’d take it easy on me. I was writing a book at the time…it was a book about this schizophrenic boy who always saw a psychotic bunny. I was really into time travel at the time, too. I had the rough draft in the car with me and they confiscated that with the drugs. Assholes. I heard one of the cops optioned it for a movie later. And that kids, is the story of how the idea for “Donnie Darko” was stolen from me. But I’ve digressed long enough. That’s what life is really…a digression from the truth.

Now at the Adams County penitentiary, I got my prints done and had a stylish mugshot taken. Then, without telling me what was going on, they instructed me to follow the green painted line through the double doors. As soon as I got through the double doors, I heard one of those auto-electric locks activate, and I was shut in. I found myself at a desk, Clockwork Orange-style, emptying the contents of my pants…both in the sense that I had to take out my keys, wallet and lighter, and also because before I knew it my wang was flapping all over for everyone to see. And it was NOT warm.

As soon as I got into the cellblock, it was time for “lockdown,” which was the first time I’d ever heard that word outside of a rap song.

Walking the Holiday Line: Part 2

Since I hadn’t accrued anything with which to occupy my time, all I had to do was listen to the faint electric buzz of silence, like a blank computer screen that you’re not sure is powered on. This silence was broken when I heard some banging around and a loud CRASH coming from above me. The cell block was divided into two levels, and I was on the bottom. I peeked out the slat of a window to try and see what was up. I saw the fat guard move faster than he’s probably ever moved in his life, and he got on a phone and called someone. Within minutes, a team of paramedics came rushing through the secured cellblock doors and ran up the stairs from whence the commotion came. I couldn’t see shit through that tiny window, but I imagined a dozen other faces pressed up against their windows as well, like everyone on the left side of a west-bound plane headed over the Grand Canyon from Denver to L.A.

About an hour later, they started letting us out of our cellblocks one at a time. I was close to the right side, so I was third or fourth in line. “Sir! Please step out of your cell and follow along,” blurted the guard from his loudspeaker.

I followed along a red line this time, and two detectives took me into a very small office.

What had happened was the poor schmuck in the cell above mine offed himself. When the detectives found out it was my first day in the joint, and that I was there because of an insurance ticket, they laughed themselves silly.

Back in the cellblock commons, everyone was watching TV. Of all things, they decided to watch “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.” It was a pretty low point in my life when I accepted that this might be the most Christmas I’d get to experience that year…watching 1960’s claymation with a bunch of drug dealers. Actually, it wasn’t much different from being around my friends on the holidays, on second thought.

During the next lockdown period, I put my face in the paper-thin pillow and tears started welling up in my dry, itchy eyes. It felt good…raindrops in a dry, old footprint. I’m not tough. I can’t even pretend to be tough. But none of the inmates could see me in there, and it’d be hours before I’d have to see them again. Maybe coming down from the opium helped spur the tears, because reality started to set in pretty harshly.

Of all the things I’ve been in my life, all the terrible, nasty, immature, careless, thoughtless things I’ve been, I’d never been bad to my kids. And that’s exactly what was happening. I was the world’s worst father, unfit to raise even a fucking cat if you ask me. Sure, I wasn’t dealing drugs, or killing people, or stealing anything, but what, do I want a fucking merit badge for that?

When lockdown was over, I just sat and watched whatever the hell was on TV…I don’t remember what was on then. I just kept thinking to myself “If I get out of here tonight, I won’t complain about stupid shit so much.”

Because as crappy as the situation was, there were people all around me who had it much, much worse. They were in there for years…older people who had no chance of changing their lives. There were people outside the jail who were technically free, but prisoners in their own regards. There were poor people and starving people. And of course, people who were tragically born Canadian.

Santa Claus, a big fat guy who yells “Ho ho ho!” at people is always part of Christmas miracle-type stories. For me, my Christmas miracle came when the big fat security guard yelled “Get your shit and get out,” to me over the loudspeaker.

When I was leaving, the other inmates were hounding me for my clean socks, and anything clean I had that the prison had issued me. Clean socks? Why? Did they never do the laundry there? I didn’t get it. But whatever, here you go, Merry Christmas, have my clean socks. It was the first bit of Christmas cheer I got to spread all season.

What I didn’t know, is that while I was in jail, my work got suspicious that I hadn’t shown up, and my boss called my wife to see where I was. Later she told me that she hardly considered the idea that I might’ve been in an accident. After my work called her, she called every county prison system in the metro area and found me. What if I had died? Bitch. But I guess she knew me pretty well.

It wasn’t my wife that came to pick me up, however, Ohhhh no, I didn’t have that luxury. After I got my street clothes back on, I walked out into a small waiting room, where my mother had been conversing with the other mothers of bad children. I smiled my biggest, cheesiest smile at her.

“I know that smile DAMN well isn’t for me. You think you’re too old for me to drag you out of here by your ear? You’re wrong.”

I did, in fact, think I was too old for that. I was wrong. She dragged me out of the jailhouse by my ear. I didn’t complain.

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So, now that I am 32 and that story can be a little funny to me (my mother still does NOT find it funny) and as I embark on the toughest Christmas my family has faced financially, I try to remind myself that as cliché as it sounds, Christmas is all about being with people you like. People who might…say…bail your ass out of jail.

As much as I loathe this time of year, I just want to wish you all a happy holiday season. Be happy for what you have…even if what you have isn’t great. Because we know how bad things can get with just a couple ticks of the tacky wall clock you got for Christmas last year. This is part of the beauty of being in your 30’s: Savoring not happiness, but rather each breath that goes by without complete disaster.


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2 Responses to “Guest Post: A Jailed Christmas”

  1. P.S. Jones @The Bitch Blog December 28, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    As much as I hate the holidays, I’ve never spent them in jail. At least that’s something to be happy for.

  2. Mardi Gras December 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    That’s funny– the EXACT same thing happened to me while I was in jail. Some girl tried to off herself. In Boulder County Jail. I wish I was kidding.

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