Today I had to do the unthinkable.
I had to buy a pair of white, velcro-closure sneakers.
I totally feel like I need to take a shower.
You may remember a few weeks ago, when I was really struggling with how best to support a person I knew casually, who reached out to me after being arrested. I was chosen by default, as the only person he knew with a land line. Apparently, you can't call cellphones from prison. Who knew?
(Rhetorical question. You can totally plead the 5th on that, no need to incriminate yourself. Which I guess you already did, if you were in jail. Unless you took the 5th. Anyway. It was news to me.)
I decided that the best way to help this man was not financially - because there are no guarantees and I cannot afford a gamble. But I can help in other ways. Last week one of the girls from work managed to go get his wallet from the property officer, which was considerably more difficult than you would imagine. From what I can gather, you can only pick up remanded property two days a week, in the morning, between certain hours, and you can only pick up and drop off stuff every 6 months. And you can only call to schedule pickups and ask questions on totally different days, at totally different times. And if you want to get the prisoner any spending money, you have to mail a money order. And you can only do that once every 2 or 3 months. And if you want to drop off or pick up anything, you have to be approved - a process that requires providing your social security number, date of birth, and a bunch of other information that you would most likely prefer NOT to be giving out over the phone to people calling you from prison, who are going to write it on a piece of paper and then keep it with them, in their cell. With other people who are also in jail. You get my drift.
Point is, they don't make it easy to get stuff in or out.
It's like all of your rights have been taken away and you have no freedom any more.
Like you're in jail or something.
But I digress. My point is, I wanted to help. So - using his money - I offered to get him the things he cannot get "inside". Today he called with the list of allowable items, and I put the kids in the car to "go get uncle the things he needs for jail".
(And just to clarify - this guy is NOT their uncle. In Hawaii, "uncle" is a term used to describe men who are older than you. Same with Auntie. Biology and legal formalities need not apply.)
We went to Walmart, because they love us there. Surprisingly, Walmart not only had what we needed (a strange list, to be sure) but seemed to have it packaged in such a way as to make me wonder whether certain items of clothing were there purely for the purpose of being sent to prison. Or maybe the prison checked out what was readily available, and used that for creating their guidelines. I can't be sure, but it was pretty darn easy to check things off the list.
We started in the underwear department. Max was completely traumatized by the photos on the packages of men's bikini briefs - a product he declared "wrong" "disgusting" and "completely unecessary". (My relief was palpable. I never want to see any man - and certainly not my child - in bikini briefs.) After buying 5 t-shirts, 5 boxer shorts, 5 pairs of white socks, and the aforementioned totally awesome white velcro sneakers (I managed not to buy him the "Danskin" brand sneakers, a fact that I hope he will come to appreciate because I don't think the other guys in his cellblock would let that pass without a comment about his new ballet shoes or a query as to whether he had a leotard to match) I went to buy shorts. But they can't have pockets. And *all* the shorts have pockets. Then I tried to find sweatpants - because baby, it's cold inside. But those had pockets too. And drawstrings - also a no-no.
So I went over to the women's section, and found his some sweatpants and a sweatshirt that didn't say "Women's" on the tag and he's gonna get those and furthermore he's gonna fucking like it because DUDE I am out buying him a bunch of shit for jail. Like he has a choice at this point.
Then we went to get him the personal care items. Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant. Without alcohol. Which is harder than you might think.
I really wanted to get him this one:
But it just seemed mean to send a guy in jail deodorant that smells like "wilderness, open air and freedom". And what the FUCK does freedom smell like, you ask? Well, it smells fresh. Yes indeedy. But apparently, that freshness is from alcohol, so we had to put the freedom back on the shelf.
Oh, the irony. Shelving his wilderness and open air and freedom.
Moving on down the aisle, we had some alcohol-free options. We were struggling to decide between "After Hours" and "Showtime" scents, until we found the perfect one.
Just what every guy in jail needs.
A little Swagger.
And so, as soon as I have located three pairs of shorts without pockets (or sewn the pockets shut) I am going to ship out this care package. He is totally going to be the most popular guy in the correctional center, between his sexy deodorant, his ocean breeze shampoo, and his sweatpants that are designed (apparently, according the packaging) to flatter his curves.
I may have found my true calling: to be a stylist for prisoners. I'll bet that's a niche just waiting to be filled.
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