Laundry Bin & Prison Number
One of the jobs that I am glad I did not get was laundry detail. It was a thankless job and it was extremely hot.
We could send our clothes to the laundry once a week. All of our soiled clothes went into a green Army laundry bag that was tied to the end of our bunks. I think they had a rotating system for each wing and for the other custody levels. Maybe different days of the week, this part is hard to remember.
At laundry call, anyone with laundry would line up and then be led down to the lower levels where the clothes were cleaned. Items that we could take down there included; our brown uniforms, light brown Army underwear and t-shirts, thick green Army socks or thin black military socks. All items were marked with our prison number and a laundry bin number. Everything that we dropped off was supposed to end up in that bin for pick up on another day.
It seemed as if stuff would always disappear. A t-shirt would go missing or there would be an odd number of socks. Every once in a while I would end up with an item that belonged to another inmate. If we needed more items, they would be issued but they didn’t like to have to do that. You could wear your clothes more than once but working in the mess hall made that hard. Food, grease and sweat from the sweltering conditions meant that they had to be cleaned every day.
Someone told me that they didn’t use the laundry service at all. Asking how this was possible, he explained it to me. So, I tried it out. The toilet in my cell was stainless steel and I had to keep it immaculate for inspections purposes. I also had an unlimited supply of shampoo. Add the two together and you have an in cell laundry operation. Taking one item of clothing at a time, I would soak them in the toilet, add shampoo and scrub. Once everything was washed, I would flush the toilet and then rinse in the clean water, ring out the items and then hang them to dry overnight.
Marine Corps Belt
You could tell what branch of service someone was from by looking at their belts. The military issue web belts were black for Army, blue for Air Force and khaki with a gold buckle for Marines. The khaki belt was coveted for some reason. Maybe because it matched the brown uniform better than the other two, which seemed silly in prison to be concerned with fashion. I wanted one though.
A former Marine a couple cells down was getting close to being released. He said I could have his when he left because he wasn’t going to need it. This was pretty exciting. Simple pleasures. When he gave it to me, I had to cut off a bunch of excess belt because he might have been a thirty-six inch waist and I was about a twenty-eight. The black belt that I switched it out for, I was never very fond of. The fact that I was in Marine Corps JRTOC in high school made me feel eligible to wear the khaki one and so I wore it with pride.
Because I was so skinny and Weeks was willing to help me get bigger, I kept working out. Staying pretty consistent with working out was easier when you have a partner or someone pushing you to do it. When the weather was bad we went to the indoor gym. On good weather days, we went to outdoor rec call. We could stay outside for a few hours and then we would all have to come back in.
There was a day that I was outside without Weeks. Everything was fine while I was outside. Most of the time there were never any major issues because, no one wanted to have a D&A board, go to the hole or have their time extended. On the way back in from the recreation field, you had to go through a dark passage way to get back inside the DB. When it was time to go back in no one was ever in a major hurry and so the line of inmates was pretty sporadic and spread out.
As I got closer to the passage way, I heard some inmates speaking Spanish behind me. I could tell they were very close and I could not understand what they were saying. I felt a hand touch my rear which freaked me out. Quickly glancing back I saw a very large Panamanian inmate named Estevan who was serving a life sentence in the DB. He was one of the biggest body builders and was known to pursue smaller inmates for intimacy.
He winked at me and made a kissing gesture. My forward momentum increased about a thousand percent and my heart started to leap out of my chest as I moved quickly towards the DB to safety. No running was allowed and so I speed walked past other inmates until I was in a larger group. Thank goodness we were not in the same wing or life would have been very uncomfortable for me. That evening, I told Weeks what had happened. He said he knew exactly who I was talking about and would take care of it for me.
It’s possible that Weeks told Estevan that I belonged to him, he never really told me what was said. I didn’t care and didn’t want to know, as long as I didn’t have to worry about my safety. There were no more incidents from Estevan or anyone else while I lived in the wings.