Bed Time in Prison

Every night around 9:55 pm a red light comes on, indicating that it’s time to head to your bunk for standing count. We’re counted multiple times each day. At 8 am, 12 pm, 4 pm, 10 pm, and throughout the evenings at midnight, 3 am, and 5 am. However, for the 4 pm and 10 pm count, we’re standing at our bunks. All other times you’re counted while asleep or at work.

Most guys head back 5-10 minutes prior to the light coming on so they can get ready for bed prior to the count. Sixty men, four sinks, and three toilets. I’m pretty sure I’ve never read any studies showing how controlled chaos immediately before bed is good for sleep, yet, we endure, and parts of it are worth relishing. It’s a scene I’ve grown fairly fond of. As expected, an inordinate number of people are well-versed in talking sh*t while simultaneously brushing their teeth.

Due to the sheer number of guys in there, you step up to the sink, wash your hands, and begin brushing your teeth. Next, step aside so someone else can repeat while you’re brushing because if you think you can occupy a sink the entire time, you’re wrong. Due to the pit-crew-esque flow of things, I prefer to floss at my bunk before heading into the bathroom to brush.

I put a small magnetic mirror on my locker and clip a reading light to the top shelf so I can see my work. If you’re not going to make time to floss in prison, you never will. If you are self-conscious about grooming in private, you’ll get over it quickly because there’s minimal privacy. When I come back to Boise and use a bathroom or get ready for bed in an area that’s not filled with a madhouse of other people, it’s going to feel downright desolate. Everyone finds a way to be in each other’s space while at the same time giving one another some semblance of consideration. It’s like when you see hundreds of birds in the sky, moving in unison but also any which way, all while not flying into one another.

The bathroom is humid to the point that the toilets and urinals constantly have a thick mist of water on them while the exhaust fan roars like a small lawnmower engine. It’s funny, though, no matter how dire or glorious the surroundings are, indoor plumbing is indoor plumbing. The toilets flush, the sinks drain, and the showers have good water pressure. Spend enough time camping in the mountains, and running water is running water, no matter how much mayhem it comes with.

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