I’ve been to jail. I’m not proud of it, nor do I want to talk about it. It wasn’t a Jim Varney-esque adventure full of hilarity and penal-stereotypes, but it wasn’t scary, either. (Shankings are primarily reserved for MSNBC’s “Lock Up,” apparently.)
It was mostly boring and uneventful, but it sure was a shitty way to spend a weekend, for certain. And while I’d love to be able to tell you how to STAY out of jail, I can’t. It happens to the best of us.
One moment, you’re “innocently” trespassing at a private lake with some friends, drinking and cavorting, and the next thing you know, you’re being given tickets for said trespassing offense. Only YOU’RE being held, Brandon, because your psychopath cousin once got pulled over in North Kansas City for speeding/drinking and driving/in a car with expired tags, and he gave them YOUR name instead of his… he said that he was Brandon Leftridge, goddamnit, and no, he didn’t have his license but he knew his social security number, by God (having memorized yours while he was living with you after his own parents gave up on him because he was kicked out of regular-kid-school for cutting another student’s throat with a box-cutter).
Sometimes, this shit just happens. You can’t help it.
So what can you do while you’re there? Well, you can always perform a song for the warden and hope for early release… except, you know, this is jail and not prison, and you’re not Elvis (or Leadbelly) and there really isn’t a warden.
Here are a few simple tips for getting by:
Give It Up: It doesn’t matter if it’s your shoes, or your jail-issued peanut butter sandwich, if a dude wants your shoes and/or sandwich, you hand that shit over, no questions asked. He’ll probably say it softly at first. He might even pose it as a question.
“You gon’ eat that sammich?”
No. No you’re fucking not. You’re going to give that sandwich to him and offer to cut the crusts off, too. That sandwich isn’t worth your life, bro.
(Unless you’re cousin Brian—then your life is worth much less than a sandwich. Deny the aggressor said sandwich and get beaten to death with a tube of toothpaste. I’ll laugh, and then forget to attend your funeral. Sorry, cousin!)
Honey Buns Are Your Money, Son: Snack-cakes are inherently white-trash, and in the joint, they’re as good as gold. And for some reason, nowhere is this more evident than with Mrs. Freshley’s (or Little Debbies, or Duchess) Honey Buns. Convicts go ape-shit for this sugary foolishness. So if you’ve got any planning time—if you KNOW you’re going to the clink and have time enough to prepare, I mean—shove a box of Honey Buns up your ass. Since you’re only going to the local jail, you probably won’t be subjected to a cavity search (I know I wasn’t). Once securely locked within your cell, extract the confection from your anus. CONGRATS, you are now KING OF THE CRIMINALS.
Join a Gang: What do you look like? Are you like me—a pasty white dude with one bad tattoo and a fairly reasonable disposition? Are you a dreadlocked black man with a thousand barely visible tattoos, metallic teeth and a healthy appreciation for “rolling gun-battles?” Or maybe you’re a Mexican dude with a facial tattoos, an attraction to Sharpied-on eyebrows and ranchero music? In any case, you need to get in where you fit in (Too Short said that. I bet Too Short would back me up on this). If you’re white, join the Aryans. You need protection to avoid future losses as they pertain to sandwiches and/or footwear! If you’re black and serving time, you might already be covered (statistics, people). Ask a friend or family member if you’re in a gang. Mexican: ditto.
It’s important to belong, and nowhere is this better illustrated than in a place where you could be stabbed without good reason.
Don’t Sag: Sagging leads to unwanted behavior… namely, dudes having sex up your butt. So unless you WANT sex up your butt, keep your pants high around your waist. Seems simple and intuitive, but you’d be surprised.
Don’t Brag About Your Family Fortune: Look, it’s REAL cool that your dad invented that golf visor with the spiky, frosted tips coming out of the top. Really, congrats. But the thing is, if these people know you have money, they’ll expect you to “share” that money with them. So unless you plan on spending your time constantly arranging transfers into their commissary account, just pretend like your dad drives a forklift. Better yet, don’t mention your dad at all. Most of the other guys don’t HAVE dads (again—statistics), so this will lead to jealousy.
Don’t Punch the Biggest Dude in the Joint on Your First Day: In fact, don’t punch him AT ALL, if you can help it. I know this is something that always gets thrown around as a “to do,” but that’s perpetuated by people who’ve never been in jail.
First of all, you’ll probably break your hand on his granite-chin. Second, your data-entry-powered left hook probably won’t do anything to him. Chances are, you’ll punch him and then you’ll end up getting the shit kicked out of you. People won’t “show respect” for your willingness to “throw down.” They’ll probably laugh at you. And then have sex up your butt because they now know for a FACT that you’re weak (and now incapacitated).
Look, I know this list is far from comprehensive. But I’m not your guardian. I’m just a guy who’s been to jail and managed to NOT get beaten up or raped. (That I remember. But I WAS a little drunk, so, who knows?)
In the end, your survival is up to you; with any luck, you’ll remember to keister some Honey Buns like I said. I wish you the best of luck. When you get out, you can buy me a beer for helping you out. (You know, supposing you didn’t do something really crazy, thereby making me afraid to fraternize with you.)
Anyone had any awesome jail experiences? Leave them in the comments! Or—you can all just turn this into a Glazer-Bash-Fest. After all, the piece was about incarceration!
Find me on Twitter, @StanfordWhistle.