45) DRUDGERY (OF THE WORKING CLASS)
After serving time at Lakeview for the first month, Raphael got the hang of following directions. He didn’t want to, but at the recommendations of Casey, Rick, and Mike, he decided life would be better for him to switch rather than fight. Every morning started out with a march to the chow hall at 6:30 A.M. Breakfast lasted 20 minutes and back off to school for another 4 hours.
He learned his place at Dalton School would be held until his 6-month term of incarceration expired. The school lessons here as a convict retained the same level as in civilian life. Lunch came everyday at 11:30 A.M. and lasted a whole 20 minutes. After lunch, everyone mustered outside and marched to the afternoon classes for another session of 3 hours.
Then came the fun part.
When classes finished, every inmate joined their respective work assignment. Raphael’s work duties put him in the facility laundry; a hot and sticky place. His job included putting the smelly jumpsuits in big, over-sized washing machines. He then transferred them to dryers when the cycle completed. The finishing touch was folding the jumpsuits neatly; to be placed on the inventory shelves.
The tasks seemed never ending and boring. Raphael hated working . But at least he hadn’t been assigned the road crew, like some of the others. His job allowed him to stay rather clean as opposed to the dirt and grime the road crew collected.
“Hey inmate Hernandez,” Sergeant Cosgrove called out, “front and center.”
Raphael knew from experience, ‘front and center’ usually meant sort of trouble. Every other time he balked at an order, he got called out and reprimanded. He could recall nothing he might have screwed up this last week, but the bulls always remained experts at blaming inmates for everything.
“Hernandez reporting sir,” Raphael shouted. “Front and ncenter for nyour command.”
“At ease,” the Sergeant spoke. “I’ve got a message for you. Your parents are coming for a visit this weekend.”
Raphael gaped in shock. He almost forgot about his past life in the city. He missed being in contact with people of his past; including his parents. Since his internment, he had received no letters, no phone calls, and no visits.
To him, he was abandoned; shipwrecked. He still maintained a ‘pissed off’ attitude at his mother, for making him come here. But his attitude mellowed and now he accepted his fate. Still, he wasn’t sure how he could look them in the eye; especially his father.
“Does nthat nmean I’m ngoing to nget a day off?” he asked.
“Ha,” the Sergeant laughed. “You may get a few hours off, but not an entire day.”
“This njob in the nlaundry is nboring,” he complained. “Isn’t nthere anything else I ncan do?”
“I can assign you to the road crew or in the kitchen?” Cosgrove fired back. “I can arrange for you to be moved to one of those positions.”
“The road crew nsounds too nhard for nme,” he lamented, “but the nkitchen might not be nbad.”
“The kitchen worker schedule is a little different,” he said. “You get to sleep in until morning classes, but you would need to work through lunch and go to afternoon classes afterward. After classes are over, you would go back to the kitchen to prepare for the night meal. Would you rather be a cook?”
“I nthink I’d like to ntry the kitchen,” Raphael affirmed. “In the nworst case, I nmay need to ncome back nhere.”
“I’ll put you in for consideration,” he responded, “but I can’t guarantee you will get assigned.”
Raphael went back to his duties as the ‘King of the Laundry’. The more he thought about working in the kitchen, the more the appeal. For starters, kitchen workers could eat anything they wanted.
He liked the idea because he continued to lose weight fast, due to his reduced intake of food. Second, there may be an opportunity for him to score extra food, which he planned to use as a bartering tool. He dreaded the thought of having five more months of this crap. But with his ability to make little changes like this, perhaps the boredom of everyday life wouldn’t be so bad.
One small step for inmate-kind.