Tuesday, January 11, 2005
If you ever wind up in prison...
... do whatever it takes to get a second-floor cell.

Trust me. REALLY.

(And, please don't eat while you read this. Or, if you've got a weak stomach, don't read it at all. Or, at the very least, don't blame any resultant ooked-out-ness on me. You've been warned.)

Maybe it's only me who finds this sort of thing supremely gross.


Every day, my supervisor and I go on rounds - meaning, we go up and down all of the hallways in the max-security building to peek in on each one of the cells, as these are populated by gentlemen who are confined to their cells 23-24 hours a day and confined to within about 20 yards of their cell 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not exactly able to pop in to the Mental Health hallway and say, "Hey, ya got a minute?"

So we pause at each door, check in, sometimes make an "appointment" to meet the guy after rounds, down in the medical exam room because there are no other even remotely psychology-friendly rooms that they are allowed to visit. He'll be handcuffed throughout, which is probably best for all concerned but which certainly changes the tone of any therapy that might accidentally happen. But I digress.

Each hallway is probably 20 yards long, give or take a bit. You can easily see the length of it, but anything on the floor at one end isn't clearly identifiable from the other end.

So, today, we're at the start of one first-floor hallway (hence the importance of upper-floor accommodations), and our guard escort, a lovely woman named Melissa, said, "Be careful at the end of the hall. Do not step in the water." Very clearly articulated and emphasized. I looked, and I could see a dark stain at the other end. She went on to explain, "There was a drain backup, and those... are bugs."

Those? Bugs? Huh? It just looked like a black stain on the floor, dark enough not to freak me out about human waste and only about 2 feet in diameter, and therefore easy enough to avoid. But then we got closer, and I could see that it wasn't uniformly black - it was obviously water with these weird, small, black clusters in it. Mold, maybe? Though it would be odd for mold to grow that fast, I don't think the water had been there for more than a day.

Closer still, and I realize, no, it's not mold. As we stepped past, I made the mistake of glancing down. It was, indeed, bugs. Lovely Melissa was right. They were very strange and slimy and apparently confined to the water, as none had escaped to leap into my face. But UGGGGGHHHHHHHH it was the grossest thing. Seriously. Ever. Smooshed-up bugs in parts, with chunks of wings and what have you. And in other places, larvae. Which were black and long and thin, looked a lot like really really BIG silverfish.

I literally shudder every time I think of it. Words can't do it justice.

I felt the need to boil my feet in bleach on the way out the door, just in case one of those suckers was clinging to the sole of my shoe. Then I jumped in a snowbank. I scuffed my feet all the way to my car, and then banged my shoes on the side of the car next to mine (meanwhile balancing precariously on the other foot - January in New Hampshire is no time to be standing barefoot in a parking lot), administered a memory-flushing agent to myself, and then banged my head on a tree a few times for good measure. And yet still, the image stays with me...

Blech. Bring on the bodily fluids, the weird smells, the rats and the prison food. Just, please, please, please, no more bugs.