Winds of Change

When I concluded my previous two posts (Living Conflicted and Living Conflicted, Part 2) I hadn’t planned on writing again about cell mates unless I encountered someone unique in some way. Plans change sometimes, right?

As you may recall, the cell mate I wrote of was sent to the SHU (Special Housing Unit) because hooch (homemade alcohol) had been found in his locker. That was February 17. Typically an open bunk is filled on Tuesday each week with the arrival of new inmates but the Tuesday following my former cell mate’s exit no one was assigned to the opening. This was a gift as the cells are quite small and really aren’t adequately sized for three grown men so the two of us still in the cell were thrilled with the extra space. The added bonus was not having to deal with a new person.

This changed the following Tuesday, February 26, when a new group of people arrived. We were assigned a Latino who tried to tell my other cell mate his name but was not understandable. I wasn’t there for the interaction but when told about it I chalked it up to a language barrier, turns out I was right. When I did arrive the new guy merely grunted at me and left the cell. I noticed he was laughing and hugging other Latinos and it was obvious he knew them.

The following day I attempted to speak with him but his only response to each thing I said was again a grunt. I knew he spoke some English so it was apparent to me he wasn’t interested in communicating with me. I decided I’d still be friendly and smile but would not irritate him by trying to establish some sort of relationship; instead I’d just watch and learn his habits and assess his disposition. What I observed was just odd.

Within two days he had somehow accumulated seven pair of shoes and two pair of shower sandals. During the days to follow, he would take all of his shoes and some of his clothing somewhere else in the housing unit in the morning and then return them during the evening prior to the 9:30pm count. One day, he slid his entire locker out of the cell to the opposite end of the housing unit for about an hour and then slid it back. Another time he rolled up his mattress with the linens still on it and took it out of the cell for about thirty minutes and then returned with it and unrolled it back on his bunk. Each time he would do one of these things my other cell mate and I would think he was moving to another cell. I still have no idea what he was doing and in discussing these actions with others no rational explanation surfaced. very odd.

Then things changed again.

This past Tuesday, March 5, this individual swapped places with an inmate that has been here about nine months. he’s in his early twenties and is not a drug case or drug user. He’s a bit awkward socially and by his own admission he scores on the Asperger scale. I’d guess he scores low though as I used to work with an individual who scored high on the scale and this new cell mate does not seem to face the same challenges. My new cell mate is kind, out going, neat and clean – all things valued in a cell mate. And I think I’ll learn a lot interacting with his unique personality. I like him a lot.

So why did I write this update? When the cell mate about which I wrote in my previous two posts was removed I prayed that someone who fit well in my cell would arrive. In a way, the Latino fit but there would not have been a relationship developed and I knew he would move as soon as an opening in a cell with other Latinos opened up. I couldn’t blame him for that. The cell swap brought a cell mate who fits well and will provide long term stability in the cell as all three of us have more than a year to go before release. Consequently, there won’t be any stress over open bunks and who will be placed with myself and the other long term cell mate.

For me though, the whole experience from the short term placement of the drug user (whom I liked) through the equally short term placement of the Latino (whom I didn’t get to know) into this latest new cell mate is proof that if you truly place your confidence in God’s plan to do good for you that the prayers you pray will be answered. I asked God for someone who would fit well in the cell and then I waited and within a few weeks my prayer was answered.

Until next time – be well; be happy; be blessed.

~jdoe

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