June 25, 2008
Wednesday, 3:30 p.m.
Letter #38: Entrepreneurship, Prison-Style
HEY! A hearty shout-out to all my San Jose Homies and others of you who should be in San Jose. I hope you’re all doing well! I am, and I wanted to shed some light on what I’ve been up to recently.
Many of you on the inside track of my sweet life attempt to “read between the lines” of my “Dear Family” letters, trying to get a glimpse of my inner struggles, my inner personality, or my inner child. Read between the lines no more. These letters have all the info you need, plus a bit more that you probably don’t need. Let it go.
Recent intel has it that maybe good ol’ Christopher has shoddy discernment when it comes to giving out the family address. Granted, for the relatively short amount of time I’ve been “down” (your prison slang for the day), several cats have managed to weird out members of my family. I apologize. I am learning to safeguard my info and not share personal details with the masses, but occasionally, I find a super-sweet, ultra-nice, very friendly felon that I’m just SURE you’d love to meet.
How about a guy who lives 4 doors to my left, named Lucky (not his real name). He grew up at the base of First Baptist Church of San Jose—Church on the Hill. He was part of a gang called Churchhill Mob, and he gets out in two weeks. Now, I know he’s done every imaginable evil deed on that Hill (if you’re having trouble imagining just what, then never mind. Good for you.) However, Lucky is a changed man. Well, not really. So, no worries, he won’t be calling up asking for a handout or writing to ask for a care package. I’m learning. Slowly.
I’m finding out that some guys completely use their families—but not very effectively. Take John (probably his real name) for example, who lives two doors to my left. He thought it would be a great idea to have his family send him all kinds of personal hygiene products. Looking at John, you can instantly see why his family would be so eager to send him large quantities of personal hygiene products. Also by looking at John, you can instantly see that he does not use those personal hygiene products.
John, whose belly nearly hides his knees, has a couple teeth left and a ring of hair that he’s grown to an extra-long greasy length. His “hustle” (your second prison slang for the day)—way that he makes a living—is to sell the you-name-it-he-has-it brand-name shampoos, soaps, lotions, etc. to guys who are going to store here, using money on their books. He’ll have you buy him food instead of the shampoo you were gonna buy, then trade items. Umm … okay … so far, so good.
However, he’s ether forgetful or just plain rude, since I’ve been asked multiple times—in one day—in his LOUD, RASPY, Italian accent, if I’m going to store?
“Okay, if you are, are ya buyin’ any soaps?”
“Okay. Well, if ya are, I have every brand.”
“I’m sure you do.”
Yessir, one of the benefits of prison life is having The Fat Godfather play Avon Lady. I gave him a Melaleuca brochure and scheduled a follow-up meeting with him.
Someone collapsed on the yard on Monday, and we all went down as the ever-alert, extremely well-fed team of nurses rushed to his aid. (I’m not being mean or rude—there must be a 250 lb. starting weight requirement … ) As the nurses thundered to the man’s aid carrying medic bags, one guy lying near me said to those around him, “This is what Baywatch 2009 is gonna look like on your old T.V. this January if you don’t buy a converter box to digital!” Nice.
Dale, a guy in a wheelchair who’d asked if I would want to move in with him, just caused a major stink and was taken to the hole. I’d asked Daddy to pray about the possibility—the next day they took Dale away.
Dale had kept us all awake singing loudly throughout the night. As he was taken out, the tower cop made an announcement: “Our dear friend, Dale, has left the building,” and everyone cheered. I took his departure as an answer to prayer!
Love ya all!