The trip from the condo via GPS says 90 minutes; I made it in 75 going 10 miles over the limit. Travel was the easy part. When I arrived, I parked in the shade furthest from the entrance. A white Lexus parked next to me and a nice couple in their 60’s stepped out. The lady smiled and said jokingly that I had taken her great parking spot in the shade. We started talking, introduced ourselves and shared how neither one of us could ever have dreamed that we would be doing this in a 1,000 years!
She told me that it was through God’s grace that she had made it through the last 17 years! They were here to visit their now 35-year-old son. She was so nice that I asked her if we could meet him and she liked that idea. With that we entered the building, quickly filled out the paperwork and sat down.
When they called me up, it was the same guard from yesterday. He said, “Mrs. Foster, I know we had some issues with your attire yesterday, and, well, we can’t let you in today with what you are wearing. If you read this, it says ‘no spandex’” I was floored. I was wearing very much the same clothing that the black lady had worn yesterday and she had been allowed in. I didn’t know what to do; again, the clothes were back at the condo.
With that my new friend, Margaret, came to my rescue and said, “Let me go to my car, I have some pants you can borrow.” Together we backtracked to the car sharing more stories, one of which was how the guards had denied her husband entry one day because he was wearing Khaki pants. I was incredulous, but found out that it was because the prisoners are all in Khaki and they want us to look different.
She told me a little more about her son, his good attitude and how he had survived many situations during this difficult time. I was anxious to meet him and introduce him to Kevin. Kevin needed to have someone help him learn the ropes. I just had this feeling that this was divine intervention. Boy, I like it when my feelings are right on!
When I saw Kevin, and told him about the lady’s advice from the previous day and the debacle it had caused, he wasn’t surprised. The guards were flexing their power over their domain and they love to pick on the white women. I witnessed it with others. I told Kevin that after count, he was to get a picnic table so I could introduce him to Margaret, her husband and their son Haight. He didn’t look quite as “up” today and told me he was tired today. I tried to diagnose the reason with no success.
As planned we all rendezvoused at the table. We spent the next 90 minutes having a blast learning the ins and outs of the system at Butner and where Haight had been previously. Haight told Kevin that he already had a reputation due to his blue skin. It is called “smurfing” and is the result of the medication he takes for his heart condition.
When Kevin explained that, Haight said, “You know, no one will be able to get that. You need to just say you are depressed and blue!” With that Kevin said, “I’ll just tell them I listen to the blues so much, I turned blue.” We chuckled and I think his new nickname might become, “Blue” or “Bluesman.”
In addition, Haight knew all about Kevin’s cellie and how slow he really was. Inmates would tell Kevin’s cellie all the time to go away and don’t come back. Twenty minutes later he would be back with a smile, as though nothing had happened. No doubt, his brain is fried from too many drugs.
Haight has a wonderful sense of humor, a love for God and has managed to survive the system in good health by really taking care of his body through yoga and eating peanut butter and oatmeal throughout the day as his mainstay. He mentioned that he had done this regimen while taking vitamins and lifting weights, but without positive results and was always tired. He told us that he sent the ingredients of the multi-vitamin to his sister, who was a dietitian, and she told him immediately to get off the vitamins as they had 150 ml of iron.
Kevin and I immediately put two and two together, as he too was taking those multi-vitamins. This was why he was tired today—he had been on them for 10 days. He said he would check out the label. However, my thoughts were racing to another reality: BOP was allowing men to take vitamins with iron so they would be too lethargic to act out! It was like legalized drugs to the body and mind.
I asked Haight if he would coach Kevin on his yoga since we used to do that together previously. Kevin hadn’t done yoga in four years. He dropped it with all his travels and then we moved away from the club. Now, yoga was one of the few activities he could participate in here. He can’t do any contact sports due to his ICD (implantable cardio device). I could tell that was asking too much of Haight. He enjoyed retreating to a quiet corner of the yard early in the morning to do his yoga (and I’m sure meditating). The most difficult thing to get accustomed to was constant noise in the units.
In Low, the guards were a little more lenient since there are more restricted movements. Inmates can only move on the half hour/every hour, but there are more sports activities for the men to partake in because there are 1400 men. In addition, there is a huge sub-culture/micro economy with all these inmates at the Low. Probably the big difference between Low and Camp was that many of the Low inmates were elderly and handicapped, or at the other end of the spectrum: drug dealers and more!
Camp food is supposedly better. That appeals to Kevin. Plus, no razor/barbed wire and total freedom of movement. There are only 340 men at Camp. They are primarily first time offenders and have low points. According to Haight, they are not trouble makers. Kevin is anxious to go to the Camp.
It was getting hot, and we were afraid the guards were going to separate us. Inmates aren’t allowed to talk to one another in the visitation center, another stupid rule. They fraternize with each other in the dorms all day long! So, at the end of our conversation, I asked if Haight would keep an eye on Kevin and he looked me straight in the eye and said he would. I believe him and think we have new friends. Strange how God has this interesting way of weaving the fabric of our lives!