Home Sweet Home

The main building at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is a nondescript, metal clad, one story, 80'x160' building. It contains our housing areas along with our chow hall and kitchen, our library, law library, 6 offices, laundries, rest rooms and TV room. With the 'Open Concept' floor plan in residential living being all the rage on HGTV now, the sleeping areas must be on the cutting edge. The living areas are divided into two open bays which are about 28'x100', each originally designed for 42 to 48 people. Now they each house from 90 to 96, as our current population is 191.

I've written about the bunks and the lockers before, but there are other quasi-functional aspects which impact life in the unit. My first bunk assignment was an upper bunk next to the laundry, a small room containing 2 washers and 4 dryers, running 18-20 hours every day. Because of such use, they don't last long, and it's not uncommon for some to be out of service. Everyone has a mesh laundry bag, so if both washers are in use, we simply put our bags on the floor in front of a washer. There are often 1 to 4 bags lined up in front of each. The unwritten house rules are that when a washing cycle finishes, an absent inmate's clean clothes automatically go into a vacant dryer or back in the bag wet until a dryer is available. If the owner of the first awaiting bag is not there, he gets skipped. That same 'must be present to win' rule applies to all the bags, so it's often possible to simply show up at the right time and put my clothes into the washer.

The house rules in the bathroom also require some explanation. There are 4 toilets on each side. All of them are currently working. I mention that because it's rare. There is a 'courtesy flush' rule in effect for the toilets at all times. For those unschooled in this rule, it simply means we flush more than once before we finish as a courtesy to everyone else. As our toilets are tankless, we can continue to flush them every second. I daily hear 12 flushes in 12 seconds in nearby stalls. While that seems like overkill, 22 is the record. I'm not sure what that was about and don't want to know. We also have 4 urinals in each bay that work most of the time, although one of my side has leaked off and on for over 2 years. Repairs are tricky because we seldom have the right parts.

The 10 showers in each bay are all individual stalls with a curtain. Instead of hot and cold handles, they have only an on/off timer button. The timers are controlled by an evil spirit so that the cutoff time varies randomly between 3 and 120 seconds. Of the 10 showers, nobody wants to use 5 on one side because the water isn't hot. That leaves 5, of which 1 is a handicap shower, 1 has low water pressure, and 1 has no pressure at all. This math subtraction works to a disadvantage when it's shower time. I've waited 30 minutes for 1 of the 2 good showers. Fortunately or unfortunately, I seem to always have 30 minutes to kill. For further insight into shower life read this.

After being near the laundry room for almost a year, I was fortunate to secure an upper bunk and locker in the corner of the west bay. This upscale move came with a window (the window partially obstructed by the branches of the oak tree). It's a lower traffic area affectionately referred to as "the gated community." Because we're against the wall, our aisle is 4 feet wide instead of 3 feet, but access to both bunks is on the same side, so it's still crowded.

I must admit though, after more than two years, I've settled into life here quite well....not.