Sunday, January 27, 2008

Welcome to Virginia. Here's Your Orange Jumpsuit.

I moved to Virginia around 1999 just for the hell of it. I didn’t have much keeping me where I was, and I had a couple of friends living in the area, so I said screw it and moved. Once I moved I bought a new car (used), a 1993 Ford Mustang GT Convertible. I’ve always had problems driving the speed limit. In fact, I’ve lost count of how many tickets I’ve received over the years. Probably in the neighborhood of 25-30. I had managed to stay away from the cops up North for a few years prior to moving to VA (except for a speeding ticket in a U-Haul on the way here), but New England and Virginia are totally different as I found out the hard way.

I had a friend visiting once I got settled in. A bunch of us went out to the bars and got pretty liquored up. At the end of the night we just headed back to my place where everyone passed out. I had sobered up a little, and thought it might be a good idea to take my new car out on the highway and see what it could do. After all, it was about 4am, so no traffic to worry about. I hit the highway with the top down on this beautiful summer night, and once I got to a straight away I hit the gas. There was a small hill, just enough of one where I couldn’t see over it, but I wasn’t worried.  I hit 100mph and was still accelerating, when on the other side of this hill was a state trooper. Oh shit, I thought, now I’m screwed. By the time he caught up with me I was already pulled over…I knew the drill.

The cop was such a dick even though I was as polite and cooperative as they come. He asked me why I was going so fast and I said I wanted to test out my new car when there weren’t other people on the road. He said “Well I’m another person, and probably the last one you want to see right now. Step out of the car”.   He asked how much I had been drinking to which I gave the standard answer “a couple of beers a few hours ago”. He gave me all the field tests which I passed, barefoot on the side of the highway. He let me go without checking my BAC but gave me a speeding ticket for 100 in a 55 zone.

Fast forward a couple of months. I figured traffic court was no big deal, but I had never been in VA. I walk into the court with my defense all planned out…no tickets in several years so they should go easy on me. So much for that. The first thing out of the judge’s mouth was a question about the ticket I got in the U-Haul a few weeks earlier. “Shit, that’s already on the books?” I thought to myself. I froze, and the judge sentenced me to 10 days in jail since I gave him no reason to do otherwise. I only had to actually serve 5 days, but I couldn’t believe this was happening. I’m going to jail for a damn speeding ticket? “I’m a good, upstanding citizen dammit! I’m not a criminal!”

I went through all the jail processing over the next few hours, and then they brought me into a room where I was issued my bright orange jumpsuit. They had me take all my clothes off and they got a “good look” to make sure I wasn’t smuggling drugs into the jail. Nothing like squatting down, spreading your cheeks, and coughing for 3 prison guards. That was a humbling experience, I tell ya. They told me to put the jumpsuit on, but I wasn’t allowed to wear my boxers or socks because they were not solid white.

I finally made it into my cell which was general population. 30 guys in one big room with bunk beds, a toilet (out in the open), and a shower.  There was a little overcrowding problem so the first two nights I slept on a concrete floor. A guy named “Cadillac” had the bunk next to me and nobody liked him because he smelled bad. I got the crash course in how everything works…breakfast at like 4:30 am, lunch around 10am, and dinner around 4:30pm. Supplies were delivered on Thursdays. This was a Friday, so I was screwed. Toilet paper was one of the supplies, and nobody wanted to share theirs. I didn’t care for the first day because I was determined to hold it for all 5 days so I didn’t have to shit (or shower) in front of 30 other people.

Day one was OK, but after a couple of meals consisting of “mystery meat” and some other foods (I use that term loosely), my stomach was starting to rumble. The second day I said screw it and really had to go. I didn’t have any toilet paper, and none of those other assholes would give me any. I thought I was going to shit myself, but I was determined, and somehow my mind over matter trick worked. I was walking around with my ass clenched so tight you could have opened a beer bottle in my ass crack. Uncomfortable, yet successful. Day three I made it until the afternoon, then because of a petition, Cadillac was forced to relocate to another unit. I begged him for his toilet paper and he gave it to me. I ran to the john and it sounded like someone dumped a 5-gallon bucket of water into a pond from 100 feet above.

I obviously made it through my 5 day ordeal, and did so without showering once. I smelled pretty funky. My friend who picked me up when I was released asked me what the hell happened because it smelled like I took a bath in the sewer.

It’s not a test I ever want to repeat, but I will say I have learned the limits of the human body when it comes to using (or not using) the bathroom.

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