Weekenders show up at 6 P.M. sharp to gather around a gate and an ashtray waiting for a guard to let them into the jail. I was the only female serving weekends on Friday night check-in. Every weekend I would see at least one guy I knew. One dude in line, named Pepsi, was an acquaintance of my son. That bastard Snapchatted me in line and sent it to my son’s friends. I decided to let karma handle him. He ended up getting a DUI while weekends still hung over his head, so he served his time in full with additional time added. His mom ended up passing away while he was in jail serving a six to eight month stint. I did not mean karma to go that far, but damn if she didn’t. Either way, it was cold and we wanted in, as if we were anticipating Club Med. Club Med it was not. However, one night it came close, considering it was jail. This grand-ole-night did not occur until Weekend No. 19.
Each weekend, the guards gave me a toothbrush I was scared to use. It was so small that I easily could have choked on it with one wrong hand movement. Also in my swag bag was toothpaste that came in packaging equivalent to a ketchup packet, the smallest and cutest little tiny deodorant anyone ever saw, half of a pen (no paper), and a bar of soap meant to last three uses. In addition to the swag, the jail loaned two blankets, flip-flops, a pair of scrubs, and a gym mat. (Insider tip: Tie the corners of blanket No. 1 to make a fitted sheet for your gym mat and fold the top part of the mat forward to make a pillow. You are welcome).
Women spend the entire weekend in a holding cell, otherwise known as The Drunk Tank. Lucky for us, we are stuck right in the center of booking and are privilege to the antics of drunks. The male DIPs (Drunk in Public) are elated to have this opportunity to use their persuasion skills. Although these skills did not work on the officer that arrested them, they have a second chance with the guards to reconsider their arrest.
Each DIP has a slightly different approach. Some used the flat-hand method of window banging. Others chose either one balled up fist or two, interchanging left and right or using both simultaneously. The underachievers simply placed their mat aligned with the steel door and kicked all night. They were not about to stand up for 12 hours. They preserved that energy to focus on kicking only, which gave them a 4-hour lead in influencing the guards. All techniques failed. The men ought to take some notes from the ladies. The women accepted their stay at the Saluda Hilton, without crying or screaming, or banging on doors. You see, women are artful masters of persuasion. I learned the most from a hyperactive girl that came down from the jail in Warsaw for a local court date. I was on Weekend No. 19.
I cannot remember if her name was Anna, Amber, or Ashley but I would name her Tiffany. Those named Tiffany seem to be arrested a lot and my cellmate fit the bill. She comes in with a storage tote that would fit eight neatly folded comforters, only she did not bring blankets. She brought the goods. This air-quote aficionado had several decks of playing cards, Q-tips, shampoo, plastic bowls with lids and utensils, a big-girl size toothbrush, and toothpaste to match. She had food! Tiffany brought in her menu of food and was willing to share, for a price. Tiffany lacked the patience to read, so my books were useless. I only had one thing a female jail junkie would want: A bobby pin. Bobby pins are not allowed but I tucked them underneath the rolled up underneath hair that frizzes. Tiffany’s eyes widened with excitement and offered food. She wanted my bobby pin. Initially, she offered meat based soups. I had to decline because I am a vegetarian, eating only seafood. She suggests Ramen Noodles with Shrimp. Shrimp? I was leery, so I asked her if it was pre-cooked shrimp. That girl laughed so hard and repeated, “I can’t, I can’t,” confusing the hell out of me. She calls the guard by name. Is this really something that a county jail guard would find humorous? Yes, yes it was. The guard lets Tiffany out to get warm water from the shower. We let it “cook” for about an hour. Meanwhile, we played Rummy. However, her attention span would not allow us to complete a full round. She talked as much as she paced, grinning asshole to ear.
Finally, Tiffany checks the Ramen and she declares it is “cooked.” I am excited, hungry, and curious. Mostly, I wondered if I would have to devein shrimp and sleep all night with the stink. She puts it a bowl she traded with Inmate Kelly from Warsaw. She hands me the Ramen. I eagerly look in the bowl. There was not a goddamned piece of shrimp in it. She burst into uncontrollable laughter, again. I look up from my nothing-but-noodles bowl and the guard had returned, anticipating my reaction as well. Well har har! As you may have guessed, this was my first time eating Ramen Noodles. I never ate them in high school. I never ate them in college. I never ate them when I was poor. I never ate them at all.
Tiffany had more tricks up her scrub-top sleeve. Despite not being a reader, she asked the guard for library passes and he put us on a list. The list was long because we never made it to the library. She suggested we should take turns asking for a shower. That bought us 45 minutes a piece of “freedom”. Tiffany was a regular “Chef de Jail”. She decided to teach me how to “cook” a baked potato with a bag of chips. Again, she needed the guard to let her out for warm shower water. She crushed up the chips extra fine, added the shower water, and rolled the bag of chips as if she was equally distributing weed in papers for a joint. We let it “cook” for 20 minutes. That was one of the best damn “baked potatoes” I have ever had.
Men, if you land yourself in the drunk tank, take Tiffany’s tips for survival with you. You probably will not have the swag box she had, but you can ask for a shower and get on the Library visitor list. The banging on the window does not work, regardless of the approach.
If you happened to land benched next to Tiffany, tell her I add jumbo shrimp to my Ramen these days.