“What ways?” I wondered out loud.
“Well, there are blind spots on the cameras. Like over there under that camera by the microwave,” Ben replied as he pointed to a security camera.
“So people just do it really fast out here in the open, by a microwave?!” I could not grasp this concept.
“People usually make sure there aren’t any kids around,” he stated.
“Phew, well at LEAST there aren’t kids around,” I thought.
“How do the guards not notice?” I asked skeptically. This was just absurd and I needed to know the details.
Ben started to explain some more, “You just have a friend make a distraction. Sometimes people go in the bathrooms.”
“But HOW,” I asked, still not processing everything he was saying. I just don’t understand how people in a close security prison are able to have sex with their significant others when it seems like the security is so tight. I’m not a criminal and I had to jump hoops to get in here so how does security turn a blind eye to something that is very obviously against the rules.
Ben continued with more specifics. “Someone asks to use the bathroom so the guard unlocks it and you go in, then your friend creates a distraction and while that is happening your girl slips in the bathroom with you. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen.”
“So when the girl comes to visit in nine months with a new baby no one questions it?” I was getting a little frustrated that he was being so casual and not just telling me everything at once.
“They know, but they don’t get in people’s business like that. Some couples have arrangements in place to do whatever they have to do until they’re physically together again,” he said.
I couldn’t believe that this kind of thing actually happened. I’ve lived such a sheltered life with barely anything involving the law. One time I got a ticket for expired tags on my car but I don’t think that counts as a run in with the law, and from what I’ve watched on Law & Order: SVU or Orange is the New Black. As I processed that all this new information we played UNO. Ben thinks he’s the best UNO player so I was determined to prove him wrong. I think UNO really is just luck of the draw with the cards – there is no actual strategy. I would say we were about equal UNO players; we both won some games and lost some games, but he will definitely still say he’s #1.
We played a few more rounds of UNO and then I realized I had no idea what time it was. The visitation rooms don’t have any clocks in them and you aren’t allowed watches (as I discovered earlier) so unless you ask the CO what time it is you never know. Time passed on and we talked about a variety of things, I mean, we did have about three more hours to kill after lunch before I’d have to leave for the day. Nothing else that exciting happened again until I had to leave.
When you have ten minutes left in your visit, the CO comes around and returns your ID and gives you the time warning. When this happened, Ben asked if I would be coming back tomorrow. I honestly was not sure. I wanted to see him again, but I was borrowing a friend’s car and didn’t know if I could have it for the day again. I would have to let him know later. Before I walked out of the visitation room we hugged one more time. The hug was warm and familiar. The type of hug that you give to someone when you’re not sure the next time you will see each other again. All the dads in the room stood on the, “Inmates do not cross” line watching their children walk away shouting, “Bye daddy!” This part broke my heart. Ben had already left.
Once you leave the unit you wait outside again for another bus to pick you up and take you back to the entrance. I was so torn. I know those guys are in prison for a reason. I kept looking at them during the visit wondering – why are you in here? Did you kill someone? What did you do? Even though they are criminals they are also fathers and watching the kids leave them pulled on my heartstrings. I don’t think they really understood why their dads couldn’t come home with them, they were so young. I choked back tears as we drove to the entrance.
I was exhausted, the heat and emotions had gotten to me. I set the GPS to take me back home was ready to relax. As you drive out of the prison, you show the guard your ID again. That’s when I noticed they also ask that you open your trunk, as if I’m going to hide a prisoner in there… that would be the dumbest escape plan!
As I was getting closer to the guard, I realized that I didn’t know how to open the trunk in this car. I looked on the key, I looked on the side of the seat by the door, and I looked for a button on the dashboard. Nothing. So it’s now my turn at the guard and there’re a line of cars behind me. I’m panicking.
What is he going to think? I don’t want them to think I actually do have a prisoner in there! I open my door and apologize, explaining how this is not my car; so the guard helped me and we figured it out.I sighed in relief – at last, there were no other problems.
Finally on the road, I headed to my friend’s house and called to ask if I could borrow the car again the next day. As the phone rang I was giddy to tell her how the day had turned out! I did want to come back for one more visit before heading back home to Virginia. She said yes! At least I would know what I was allowed wear and wouldn’t be late. I then wondered what Ben’s girlfriend might say when she found out I’d be visiting again, that meant she wouldn’t see her boyfriend this weekend at all…
…To be continued.
Disclaimer: I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them. In order to maintain their anonymity in some instances I have changed the names of individuals and places, I may have changed some identifying characteristics and details such as physical properties, occupations and places of residence.
Editors: Jenna and Laura