No sooner than I had written the post entitled "Soon," I was at work when my supervisor told me that I needed to report to the front desk of the Bastrop FCI immediately. The FCI is the low security Federal Correctional Institution, housing about 1500 inmates, with which we share about 70 acres, and is why our camp is called its satellite. Normally a camp inmate who has any need to be there is on a daily "Call Out" list and I wasn't on the list. As I was wondering why I was being summoned, my supervisor asked me what I had done wrong. That wasn't to tease me; it's just the way he thinks. No one here ever contacts him unless he's done something wrong, so that's his natural assumption.
Upon my arrival, I was asked to wait outside in the sun. That's typical BoP protocol to remind me that I'm a felon and unimportant, so I waited. Finally an officer came out and said that I had a doctor's appointment and asked if I wanted to go. Apparently some inmates don't want to go, but of course I did. "Well," he said, "I have some bad news. There's an inmate from the the FCI who also needs to go, therefore I'm going to have to shackle both of you."
So three officers, one in a Kevlar vest, escorted a 70 year old, 145 pound, 5'6" inmate and me, shackled, into the parking lot and loaded us both into a wire cage that happened to be inside a Dodge van for a road trip to the dermatologist. My first thought upon perusing my circumstances was that I hoped we didn't travel over water and fall off a bridge, because not even Harry Houdini could escape from this death trap. I had been dreaming of a road trip. Obviously, my dreams should have been more specific.
Here are some observations about my experiences.
1. I know I'm a criminal, but I had never been in shackles. They hurt, and it was impossible to walk in them.
2. Ordinary, real-world type people were very afraid of us, even though we were also surrounded by guards. Upon reflection, this fear was absurd, but real.
3. Sitting in a doctor's waiting room with shackles and 3 guards was somewhat awkward and embarrassing.
4. The doctor and nurses treated me like a real-world type person, which didn't go unnoticed or unappreciated.
5. I'm supposed to go back for a follow up visit. "Yeah Ramon, that'll happen."
6. The camp kitchen supervisor saved me a tray of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. So I returned to our best meal of the week.
7. All in all, it was a most excellent day!
The dermatologist sent three "scrapings" to the lab for tests. Hopefully they're fine, because if these results are sent back to the Bureau of Prisons, my money says they will be lost or unavailable, absent a court order issued pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act. The other spots on my face were simply frozen. Other than appearing for a week like I had lost a fight with the camp cat, I'll soon be as good as new, or at least a certified pre-owned.