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."



Replies (9) Replies feed

Bluesky Posted 1 month, 3 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month, 3 weeks 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 1 month, 1 week ago.     1 Favorite
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SFC@sunshineState Posted 1 month ago. ✓ Mailed 1 month 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 weeks, 5 days ago. ✓ Mailed 3 weeks, 1 day 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 2 weeks ago.   Favorite
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SFC@sunshineState Posted 2 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 2 weeks 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 5 days, 22 hours ago.   Favorite
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uncguy4321 Posted 4 days, 21 hours ago. ✓ Mailed 4 days, 4 hours 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 1 day 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 :)

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