Oct. 22, 2016

Serving Time

by Eric Wilkes (author's profile)


Serving Time

When a guy is given a life sentence and sent to prison, one would naturally assume that he has been rent of all authority and the ability to have any real control of the circumstances around him. However, there is one interesting aspect in life that he subconsciously bridles and regulates to his preference: time. Unlike other inmates, who have release dates and want time to fly by, a lifer is wanting time to go slow. Not so much because he enjoys prison life, but simply because he has this issue against dying.

So what exactly is time anyway? Well, if I remember correctly, my kindergarten teacher explained it like this: Time is the indefinite continuation of the progress of existence. Okay, that seems simple enough. Nevertheless, it still never ceases to amaze me how time has the ability to go slow for one guy and fast for another at the same time. The only problem involved is when a lifer keeps trying to hold back the process of time.

Here's a good example: let's say you were to meet a lifer who was sent to prison when he was 32 and has spent 15 years behind the bars. If you were to ask him how old he felt, I guarantee you he would say 33 or 34. It as though he has mastered the science of controlling time.

Unfortunately the occasion finally arrives when time is no longer willing to be held back. This event is better known as "when time catches up with you." In my studies regarding the subject, I have come to the conclusion that time doesn't choose a particular age or event in our lives to which it decides to suddenly overtake us and leave us feeling like some old coot with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Rather, it slowly and nonchalantly begins to reveal itself in our common everyday affairs.

Let's take a look at a few examples, from a prisoner's point of view, at the realization of "you know time is catching up with you."

1. When you go to the barber to get a buzz and notice he begins with the back half of your head first. Then, just when you think he's going to start on the front half, he pulls the cape from around you and says, "Okay, I'm done."
2. When in the midst of some casual conversation, a fellow inmate mentions his age and you realize you're old enough to be his father. Then you continue calculating and realize you're also old enough to be his grandfather.
3. When you come across an old canteen receipt at the bottom of your locker that reads: 1 coke, 1 Doritos, 1 Snickers, and 1 tube of Colgate toothpaste. Then you pull the most recent one out of your pocket and it reads: 1 V8 drink, 1 bag of trail mix, 1 chewy fruit and nut bar, and 1 tube of Effergrip denture adhesive.
4. When you have to start keeping a copy of your combination lock number hidden in an inconspicuous place because you occasionally forget your combination. Then you also forget the inconspicuous place you hid it.
5. When upon noticing a female officer in the control room, you ease on over to the intercom to do a little bit of flirtatious talking to her. Then, instead of yelling to go away and leave her alone, she asks, "May I help you?"
6. When you're standing outside the dorm with some other guys and someone says, "Hey, old-timer. What time is it?" Then, after looking around, you notice you're the only one wearing a watch and realize he's talking to you.
7. When you and a buddy are looking through your folders of legal work and, when he sees your original mugshot, he asks, "Is that you?"

So now we have some ides of when time is catching up with us. However, the important thing to remember is to not allow the physical aspects of life to slow us down in this psychological race we are engaged in. Let me close with a statement made by one of my informants who is over 85 years old and has been in prison for over 40 years, "Time will only overtakes us if we allow it to."


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Replies (16) Replies feed

Bluesky Posted 3 years, 7 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 7 months ago     1 Favorite
Hi Eric, I have been reading your articles and want to say they are very interesting and show that you are making the best out of a bad situation. Keep up the good work

Eric Wilkes Posted 3 years, 6 months ago.     1 Favorite
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SFC@sunshineState Posted 3 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 6 months ago   Favorite
Hey Eric,
I've enjoyed reading your BLOG and glad that your staying positive in the situation that you are in. I've signed up to get notifications of your future writings.
Stay well!

(Childhood friend of your brother Mike)

Kylajohnson_81 Posted 3 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 6 months ago   Favorite
Hey eric my name is kyla. I've been studying the criminal justice system and learning about prisons and the path being lead on to becoming an inmate. Plus ive been watching documentarys, and i have been wanting to acctually communicate with an inmate, so here i am. You and so many other people who are incarreated have inspiried me to one day work in the justice sysetem. I aspire to help people, because i see the good in everyone. I just wanted to thank you for opening up ans sharing your story

Eric Wilkes Posted 3 years, 6 months ago.   Favorite
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SFC@sunshineState Posted 3 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 6 months ago   Favorite
I hung out with Your brother and with our other childhood friends at your parents Palm Harbor property, and at the pond behind your house. SFC was my Army Rank.
Stay Safe

Eric Wilkes Posted 3 years, 5 months ago.   Favorite
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uncguy4321 Posted 3 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 5 months ago   Favorite

Eric, hope all is relatively well on your end. John here, UNCguy. Just poked in to the site to see whats new in your world. I see you are trying to come up with new things to write about. You may not realize it but you have much to offer in this, as your situation is (in my opinion) one of the most intriguing and interesting to me. Not because I want to be there obviously, but because it's kind of a glimpse into the rawest form of human interaction -- and hearing your perspective is like hearing what I would perceive/think in those situations. So even something you'd consider boring to us, it'd probably be interesting to hear what that "boring something" is like -- in prison. You know, as in -- I don't know, maybe -- you accidentally bump into somebody walking down the street. Usually it's an "excuse me" and you're both on your way. And, maybe it's the same way in prison -- or maybe it's not. Maybe there is that element of people trying to project toughness and a tiny accident turns into an ugly incident on a regular basis there. I have no idea. So please fire away with anything you have in mind.

With that said, here are a couple questions that just popped into my mind:

1. Leaving out what you've already written about, what "codes" or unwritten laws are there in prison that, perhaps, most people would not know about? Do's and don'ts, etc.

2. Are there whole days that you don't feel fear for your safety? Or is it everyday? Or is it basically never? I'm sure it depends on the facility and if you're dorm or private room.

3. What do you miss the most about the outside?

4. What about yourself has changed the most since being in?

5. Do you have any more "business" ideas for the future, like your candy-selling endeavor?

Anyway, take care man, talk soon,


Kylajohnson_81 Posted 3 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 4 months ago   Favorite
Hello eric its kyla again. I hope you dont mind me asking what you meant about being a typical inmate. If im going to be honest i want your insight. What would make you trust a prison counsler? I want to be a corrections counsler for 2 reasons. 1. Because i want to impact others lives and make them feel like they arent alone and 2. I feel like as an idivdual i can learn alot. Thank you for taking the time out of ypur day tp write back :)

Eric Wilkes Posted 3 years, 4 months ago.   Favorite
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Eric Wilkes Posted 3 years, 4 months ago.   Favorite
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Kylajohnson_81 Posted 3 years, 4 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Hello Erik to answer your question I'm going to major in criminal psychology. I want to be like a psychologist but to Inmates. I dont just want to do that because i have a fascination with prisons like most other people. I just think im more of hands on connection person. And prisons need more people who are committed into helping with the rehabilitation. When I took a criminal justice course and i learned the real meaning of why people got locked up and not just how the New plays people out to be monsters, i came to realization that men/women who are incarcerated need to be shown that they can change but they shouldn't care about what the outside world thinks. If you have one person to change your life or leave an impact you can get the right mindset that you aren't just some criminal. Everyone deserves a second chance in life even if you've messed up more than once. I live in Arizona, so im.not sure if you have heard of sheriff Joe Arpiao. He was sheriff her for over 20 years and while he was in office the crime rate here went down, im not sure what the percentage was but he was a "controversial" sheriff/warden. People didn't agree with his rehabilitation process, but failed to recognized that we had less people incarcerated. Now we have some new sheriff,i don't get a good vibe from him. Eversince hes been sheriff he has barely talked to the public about his changes for the jails. Not to mention people are getting pulled over left and right. My own grandmother has had an encounter with a police officer who pulled her pver and harassed her. It crushed her, she got pulled over right after she had adopted a foster kid. We were on our way back from the adoption it was like a 2 hour drive home and she gets pulled over and this cop accuses her of being on drugs with 3 kids who are under the age of 10. Then he had her standing in a 110 degree weather for 30 minutes on the highway antagonizing her calling her names. And when she went to court the judge just shrugged it off. So that's my one of my main reasons for wanting to work in criminal justice. Despite some of the cops who have a bad attitude I thinks it would be good for people to see that there aren't people going into this for all the wrong reasons. I hope you have a great day and i look forward to hearing from you soon. Hope all is well

DeeVoted Posted 3 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
I'm very new to this site so bear with me as I have no idea how to even begin. I've navigated around a little bit and fear I've only hit the tip of the iceberg.
Let's start with a name "Deevoted" and I'm happy I stumbled upon you. I was instantly impressed with your meticulous printing, and your funny yet insightful writing!
I am a Canadian woman and have worked in the healthcare field for 30+ years. (Labour and Delivery and Maternal Newborn Nurse) Yes my specialty is the 3 B's (Babies, Bums and Boobs) (hides under the desk and hopes that is allowed to be written here) -- I am married and have 2 grown daughters.
I live in the free world and have a fascination with ... let us just say I am IN the free world, yet feel as though I am in a prison. But with meeting you, I feel as though you are like a free person who is living locked up. I have no idea what you did nor do I care to know. Like you said, 99.9% good and .1% bad. I believe this to be true of EVERYONE only not all get caught! Trust me, there is good and bad in all. But, I do have a fascination with TV shows and am currently watching a Netflix series called "I am a Killer" Season 1. I've watched all of the Lock Up Raw series but truly I seem to feel that they are sensationalized for TV. They show your version of the 70% + or - , and not the 10% or so that I think you would fit into. I’ve seen The series “Wentworth” about an australian female prison. The warden is a psychopath! Along with Orange is the New Black. (another female prison show on it’s 6th season) - I simply am very interested in the little things - the day to do you know?
I've suffered with depression and anxiety for many many years. Medication doesn't cure all. My anxiety is literally my cage. I don't have many "true friends" but I don't have any enemies either. I live my life but lately as I grow older and certainly am feeling my age, I see I've probably given up the prime years of my life being anxious. So I applaud you on giving your insights on the "Passing of Time" and how it might sneak up on us at various stages in our lives rather differently.

I have to be honest and say that even though I may live in the free world, "LIFE is raw and hard for all of us" -- okay maybe not those rich and famous celebs who seem to have it all, but life is hard and raw! The normal everyday things that are so repetitive, mundane chores, the rules/standards/protocols of work, the ever changing guidelines we all have to follow as workers, and as humans .... whether you're free or not I suppose it affects us all. I think perhaps you have much more time to think about those things in an insightful way and portray your feelings so well. When I was reading your posts I thought "this guy should be writing books"

My mind is wandering , it's late so I'll copy and paste what I've written thus far onto a sticky note and carry on tomorrow .... Good night for now.

DeeVoted Posted 3 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Hi Eric,

A new day has begun, August in Canada and the weather is still warm. Let me tell you, winter is brutal so I’ll be brief here as the sun is shining and I must soak up as much Vitamin D as I can as my doctor is going to poison me with 50,000 units of Vitamin D weekly if it doesn’t come up a bit.
I’ve found your first entry!! I’m guessing it was written after some time in prison and was about your first day there. You’ve quite the sense of humour and again I reiterate , “you could have been an author” , or , well you ARE an author and I quite enjoy reading your stories! I love love love the little details about just the everyday things!
I still don’t know what you did, but I refuse to look. Although if you are in prison for life, it had to be bad. I’m sorry for whatever has happened to bring you to the point of being incarcerated for life, however you are making the best of it and while I understand your life must be mundane and lacks flavour, it’s all relative.
Working 9-5 is mundane, cleaning the house is mundane, cooking the same food week after week, year after year is flavourless. So I do think I will take advantage of my situation and seek out at least one new recipe and cook it/make it and will say a little prayer for you Eric. (I am not a religious fanatic - can we even speak of religion here? I was raised Catholic and do believe that something better must await us all when we leave this place — as if (rolls my eyes) this place is a one very long, sometimes joyous, sometimes sorrowful ride we must endure to the best of our ability in order to get off at the end and say “WOW what a ride that was!! How did you do!?”
We’ll all have a story to tell to our fellow angel friends.

I’m still trying to find mazes as I’d love to print one off and do it! So I’ll close today Eric and hope your day is eventful in a good way. I’ll leave you with something to think about today and someday perhaps you may or may not respond. I’d be happy to hear from you though …..

A couple hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. "Never leave that till tomorrow," he said, "Which you can do today." This is the man who discovered electricity. You'd think more of us would listen to what he had to say. I don't know why we put things off, but if I had to guess, I'd say it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure. Fear of pain. Fear of rejection. [...] Sometimes the fear is just of making a decision, because what if you're wrong? What if you're making a mistake you can't undo? [...] Whatever it is we're afraid of, one thing holds true: that by the time the pain of not doing the thing gets worse than the fear of doing it, it can feel like we're carrying around a giant tumour.

Your Canadian Friend Dee

DeeVoted Posted 3 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Hello Again Eric,

It's still August 8th and I know you like suggestions on what to write about. I've been perusing your blog posts (there are so many!!)

I don't know if you've touched on the subject of Prison Food - in detail. A fully accounted detail of what is served daily and your thoughts on that would be amazing.

(If already done, perhaps you could give me an approximate time you posted that, or the name of the post ??)

Do you feel you're being fed well? Enough calories? Variety? Obviously it lacks flavour as you mentioned in one post.

Food in a place like prison I would think to be really important! Calories, variety , and flavours would give you something to look forward to. I'd also hate to think prisoners weren't getting enough to give them the feeling of fullness.

You had also mentioned in a post, there were alternate trays. Can you explain this? As well, if a prisoner has dietary restrictions, such as a lactose intolerance, do they accommodate you for that?

Kindest Regards, Dee

Eric Wilkes Posted 3 years, 3 months ago.   Favorite
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