Chow Hall: Part Deux

Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is a working camp which means that inmates each have a job that hopefully helps the camp run smoothly. There are several divisions within the workforce.

There is Maintenance-1 where inmates repair and maintain the various buildings and its electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. Just FYI, the AC, now on, was out in the East Wing for only 6 weeks which is a significant improvement over last summer when the AC was out in the other wing for 3 months, but that’s another story.

There is Maintenance-2 where inmates maintain the over 200 acres of land that surround the prison and the satellite camp, mowing, trimming and doing landscape work.

Inmates who work in Housekeeping are responsible for the daily cleaning of the halls, the East and West Wing residence areas, bathrooms, library, law library and TV room.

Food Service inmates prepare 3 daily meals for the current population of 175 inmates.

Finally, the camp employs inmates through a Unicor contract with the Border Patrol to retrofit trucks, SUVs and cars for service. They install lift kits, skid plates, campers, and electronics in the vehicles’ interior. I’m not sure what Unicor is or who owns it and probably don’t want to know.

Wages range from $0.12 per hour for a Housekeeping Orderly job to the rarified $1.20 per hour for a Unicor “1 per center”.

The counselor here is responsible for job assignments. Based on a detailed employment history profile along with keen analysis derived from a battery of psychological, spiritual gift, and aptitude tests–NOT–I was assigned to Food Service. It’s exactly where I wanted to work, so I appeared disappointed. Yes, I am now the Morning Kitchen Orderly. Actually I am the only one, so I appointed myself to Head Morning Kitchen Orderly. I work Monday through Friday from 6:15 am until 12:15 pm. I’m off on Saturday, but work Sunday from 7:15 am until 4:30 pm. I’m responsible for keeping the food preparation area clean and sanitized. I’m mission critical…in my own world.

There are some definite perks that come with such a position of utmost responsibility. Primarily I have more control over my meal selection, which is important. I also am supplied with my own rubber boots which are significantly more comfortable than the standard issue Bureau of Prison work boots which are painful to wear and lower my center gravity to just above the knee.

So far, my main accomplishments in the Food Service arena have been finding the source of the constant puddle of water in the corner of the kitchen and finding weevils in the beans, corn meal and grits. I was a little disappointed that a bigger deal was not made over these revelations. It is also my hope to someday soon be able to determine the source of the weirdly bad smell emanating from the Chow Hall that is now my constant but illusive companion.

Here’s to weevil free eating.