The party at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp started early Sunday morning, August 7, 2016, with alcohol that was either smuggled into the camp or home brewed. It was a small fraternity-like party while most of us slept, and the first frat brother was found passed out in the supply room. The second mistook his bunk mate's locker for the urinal. When the bunky "found out, he began to shout and started the investigation." By the time the lights came on, 7 inmates had been breathalyzed and sent to the Special Housing Unit or SHU, a fancy name for solitary confinement. None of the 7 were dangerous, but they would never be mistaken for a mensa group either.
For some unexplained reason, after the 7 were carted off, the officers on duty didn't give everyone else a breathalyzer test so they would be absolutely sure all the partiers had been apprehended. Maybe they were tired or confused. Maybe they wanted us to think their keen investigative skills precluded a logical protocol. It would have been so easy, but in hindsight proved to be a very costly error in judgment; not so costly for them though. Looking on the bright side, the rest of the story did create some fodder for this blog post--material that my wildest imagination couldn't create.
The remainder of the day was a normal Sunday with visitation, chapel, recreation and TV. However, on Monday the Warden called a Town Hall Meeting to be held in the TV room. At the appointed hour, the air was thick with drama as we crowded into the room. Unfortunately the real cause of the thickness was that the air conditioner had been undergoing a slow death over the last 3 weeks. The room felt like the courtroom in "To Kill A Mockingbird" without the funeral fans and Atticus Finch. And we could have certainly used Atticus!
Before the Warden arrived, the Assistant Warden, the Camp Administrator, the Counselor, the Secretary and 2 unfamiliar guys who looked like bouncers wearing BoP blue all entered in single file. They lined up on the podium like groomsmen haphazardly selected by an angry father at a shotgun wedding. I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be a show of force to set the stage for the Warden's entrance. It was a scene badly in need of a soundtrack. The Imperial March from Star Wars comes to mind.
The Warden's message was short and not that sweet. I heard none of it as a truck happened to be outside removing the kitchen grease from an underground storage tank. While the Warden's mouth moved and the groomsmen glared and solemnly nodded on queue, all I heard was a prophetic giant sucking sound from the grease truck. I was told that the Warden didn't begin her speech with her usual, "I tired of you mens...", but I was also told that she turned off all the TVs and confiscated the remotes--no more Olympics, no more USA, USA. She closed all the Recreation facilities--no more working out, no more sunshine. She cancelled visitation--no more family and friends, no more real sunshine. Other than going to work, we were confined to the housing unit--locked down "until further notice".
It's hard to know what she was thinking, but her written reason for taking these actions was because of "security concerns". As all the known guilty were gone, it appears that neither creativity nor truthfulness is required for written reasons. It could be that she was expecting the AC to be working in the TV room and just got emotionally swept away in the heat of the moment. Maybe she was distracted by the grease truck and gave the wrong monologue. After going so far off track, she couldn't put herself in reverse without looking sophomoric. Thankfully, email, phones and commissary remained open. It's probably just a coincidence that the Bureau of Prisons makes money off those services.
It all ended after 10 days with an unceremonious announcement that all restrictions had been lifted. I'm not holding my breath for an explanation and it would be meaningless if provided. One side note: of the 7 inmates who were removed from the camp, 2 of them were barbers, so my career as a hairstylist has undergone an unexpected resurrection. I never saw that coming.
There was a time when this would have bothered me. Now it's weirdly humorous. I just wish you all could come here. I don't mean as in live here, but like a fly on the wall, because my writing skills can't do this justice. You just have to be here, and there is a limit to what I can safely write about this crazy place.
But when I get out...