Another jail vignette:
Inmates in a county jail may be outlaws, but many of them aren’t stupid. They have time weighing heavy on their hands, and sometimes ingenious solutions to humiliating problems bear fruit and spread to neighboring cell-blocks. Here’s an example which impressed me, and once again I reiterate my regret at not being allowed the use of a camera.
In D-Block the shower is located under the stairs to the balcony. Three cells are upstairs and four down below. The shower as it was originally installed was designed by some malicious soul. There are two buttons which control the flow of hot and cold water; the harder the buttons are pushed the stronger the flow of water. The humiliation comes from the impossibility of washing one’s self while both hands are occupied by pushing those buttons.
Human ingenuity comes to the rescue! I’ve been in two cell blocks, and in each one someone had figured out a way of stringing shoe-laces in a mesh over the buttons. An empty water-bottle or a sandal can be wedged under the network of laces and if you’re careful, the appropriate and preferred mix of hot and cold water can be set, and you can use your hands to apply soap and wash. New inmates have to ask a veteran how to work the system. Seeing how this worked just cheered me up and kept me from dwelling on the Kafkaesque aspects of my plight. Franz would have loved it!