groceries

Commissary Lessons in Humility and Patience

As I write this it is 6:30 am on Monday morning.  Unbeknownst to me it was going to be a day to put into practice what I have been reading and learning about Stoicism as well as humility and patience. 

I woke up at 5:30 to shop at commissary.  Our spending limit resets every two weeks and my locker was running low on food.  At 5:40 we begin to wait in line in the unit – prison provides ample opportunities to stand in lines.  When the controlled move was called at 6:00am we head to commissary.  A mass exodus of people silently speed walking through the dark and cold morning air en route to the prison version of a grocery store.  I turn in my list and patiently stand in the hallway until my name and number is called. 

When I arrive at the window I’m told that my spending limit hasn’t reset, and by showing up I used my day of the week to shop.  It turns out that yes, our spending limit resets every two weeks, but more specifically, it resets on the 1st and the 15th of each month.  Today is the 13th.  That means that although two weeks have passed I was still on last weeks spending limit.  Since we are only allowed to shop one day per week I cannot come back on the 15th. 

At times it is hard to eat enough based on consuming only the food at the chow hall, especially on days when the menu options aren’t the healthiest.  Although not eating what I’m offered is a choice I make.  When you eat dinner at 4:50 in the afternoon that doesn’t help much either.  So here we go. 

I need to wait another seven days to go shopping.  Luckily, I caught myself immediately.  A few thoughts: 

-If you become upset over this it will solve nothing 

-The onus was on you to be cognizant of not just two weeks, but the day of the month 

-Other people here, and across the world, don’t always have food when they want it 

-A week is manageable, you will be fine and you are not starving 

-In the grand scheme of your time at Yankton how much will this really affect you 

-It was your mistake, no one else’s 

Life is full of upsetting moments that maybe aren’t worth being considered upsetting moments.  If there is nothing to be gained from being angry, why are we willing to carry that emotion with us?  I could complain to other inmates about what happened today but how would that help me or anyone?  Sure, I’m a bit discouraged and I’ll be slightly hungry for the next week.  What I realized is that humility and patience will have to satiate my appetite in the mean time. 

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