April 19, 2017
My friend Chad Smanjak wrote a guest blog that chronicles one day of his life in a low security federal prison. I am proud to share it here. Further, I encourage you to visit Chad’s blog here and subscribe. I admire Chad’s commitment to prepare and document his journey.
“A day in the live of…”
I awake to my alarm at 4:45am. Still have asleep, I rush to the bathroom before the 5am count.
“Count clear”, the CO shouts. Everyone is accounted for. I bounce up, make my bed, go brush my teeth with the rest of the herd of early risers. Head back to my cell, grab my water bottle, my bag and then go wait at the door for the 6am morning movement to be called.
The atmosphere in the mornings is quiet and peaceful. There are a handful of people heading to the yard to workout, couple people going to work and then you have the odd new guy who is still adjusting, aimlessly roaming around. More than likely, contemplating were it all went so wrong that he landed up here.
Everyone is anxiously waiting for the CO to call-” Yard movement”.
It reminds me of horses in a starting gate. The CO shouts – ” Yard “. The doors fly open and everyone rushes out.
All the units are let out at the same time for the morning, “Yard call”, so the race is on to get to the REC and claim your spot on one of the cardio machines.
My preferred morning workout consists of 45 minutes on the cardio machines coupled together with 45 minutes of Push-ups, burps and abs.
Then its time to walk the track for 20 minutes, meditation on everything that I am thankful for. That list has grown exponentially.
My preference is to skip breakfast except on Fridays and weekends. Mornings are so peaceful, I just don’t see the value in substituting my morning serenity for the chaos of the Chow Hall.
I prefer to head back before the compound is locked down, grab a shower, eat some oatmeal with peanut butter and enjoy my morning coffee.
My job is weekends only, Friday through Sunday, which gives me a lot of time to dedicate to my self-studies.
My mornings are spent studying Spanish as well as a variety of books on specific skill sets that I want to learn or to further fine-tune my existing skills.
It is my desire not to allow this time to be wasted. Therefore I ensure that my days are structured around productive activities.
Everyone chooses to do their time differently. Some people try desperately to sleep their time away, some people are workout fanatics, they are constantly working out when in the yard, in their cells basically where ever the opportunity allows them too.
Other people choose to live in the library, consuming themselves in books.
Then there are those people that spend every minute working on their legal case. Researching tirelessly, studying recent cases that is similar to theirs and their outcomes. Writing motions and petitioning for a reduction in their sentence.
Other people find solitude in the chapel.
During the day there is controlled movements. You are only allowed to move every hour when they call “Rack Move.”
When they announce that “Rack Move” is over, the compound is locked down again.
Lunch is a formal affair. Everyone has to dress up for lunch, T-shirt and khaki pants or full khaki’s if that’s your style.
As we head down to lunch, we like to play a game, guess what’s for lunch.
My Lebanese friend always jokes that today they serving lamb chops with rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes. That always gets my imagination cranked up. I start visualizing a 12oz Rib-eye with garlic mash potatoes.
I am suddenly catapulted back to reality as the first scoop of food is slapped onto my tray.
With lunch behind me, its time for a stroll around the compound before heading off to music class in the chapel.
Class is done, time to head back to the housing units for count and then dinner.
Back in the unit, I catch up with my mates, maybe a quick game of chess. I don’t play spades but that and dominos are the preferred games of choice.
Other people are catching up on some TV time or just relaxing before dinner.
The atmosphere in the units in the evenings is totally different. The place has come alive. Its like a hive of activity.
It reminds me of one of those markets you find when traveling. It has its own heart beat and filled with energy.
Everyone is hustling around, showering, doing laundry, cooking food, playing cards or some other activity.
The CO calls, “CHOW”. The gates open and away they go. Everyone rushes out the doors heading for the Chow Hall.
I am not a fan of the CHOW HALL experience, so I try avoid going as much as possible.
Normally towards the end of the month when I have blown through my store-spending limit, my options are limited so the Chow Hall becomes a necessity.
Thankfully, tonight is not one of those nights. A group of us in the unit have gotten together, pooled our resources, given them to Richard ,who is the master chef.
Armed with a microwave and some plastic utensils, he whips together one of my favorite meals. Shredded carnitas, with jalapeños, green peppers, roasted tomatoes, onions and cucumbers over a bed of brown rice with garlic and his secret spice blend.
Most of the guys head to the TV room after dinner, Richard and I head to the chapel for bible study.
Before you know it,9pm is here and its count time and lights out!
Another day down and one day closer to FREEDOM!!!!
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