Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A "Titanic" Misunderstanding

The room was empty except for the five of us. The chairs were spread out and all of us had our shoes off and a couple of us had our feet resting up on a chair in front of us. The floor was strewn with empty soda cans and a half empty package of cookies from the commissary. A bag of red vines was getting passed around the group as we sat and watched the 36" screen in front of us. The music on the TV began to swell as the young man in the film sharpened his sketching pencils and the young actress let the blouse she was wearing fall to the floor.

All of a sudden the doors to the small Chapel room we were in swung open and two women came strolling in carrying clipboards. I recognized them as staff, but I didn't know either of their names. Bill jumped from his chair and quickly turned the VCR and TV off and ran over to the woman who was obviously in charge.

"Good afternoon, Warden", he said. "Is there anything I can help you with today?'

Bill was the head clerk in the Chapel at the time and recognized both of these women. He was obviously as surprised as the rest of us that they had walked in during our study, but he was recovering very quickly.

"Hello, Mr. Oxford", the assistant warden replied. "What are you guys doing in here today...and what movie are you watching?"

Zack quickly got up and grabbed the sleeve for the movie and took it over to her.

"We're doing a facilitator's study on the book "Wild at Heart" and they recommend that you watch several movies that are referenced in the book", he said. "This is one of them."

"Where did you get this movie? Do you have permission to have it?"

It got quiet for a moment and then John stood up and answered her question for her.

"I checked it out through the college. I work as a tutor over there and it's checked out through me."

She stood there, quietly for a moment looking from one man to the next.

"Do you have a curriculum guide for this course?", she asked.

I knew that I had remembered reading in the facilitator's guide the recommendation of the movies that we should watch as a part of the training. I told her that I would get it for her and quickly left the room. I rummaged through the file cabinet in the office until I found it and took it back into the room. As I entered, the assistant warden had Bill off to the side and I could tell by her body language that she was dressing him down a little bit. After she was done with her conversation with Bill, I started to show her the curriculum guide and she simply told me to make a copy and send it to her in the prison mail as she and her assistant turned and left the room.

For a moment after they left, the room was eerily quiet. We all seemed to melt into our seats in a mild state of shock and disbelief. Of all the times for the Assistant Warden of Programs to walk into the room, Leonardo DiCaprio had to be sketching a nude portrait of Kate Winslet in the salon of a giant ship that was about to sink. To make matters worse, three of us in the room were in prison for a sex crime and to top it all off, the Chaplain wasn't in the office that day.

We slowly looked at each other and suddenly started to laugh. It seemed we couldn't stop! It was a laughter bred of fear and anxiety...and ultimately relief. As it started to quiet down, I turned to Bill and asked him what the assistant warden was talking to him about off to the side.

"She was disappointed about the soda cans and the cookie wrappers and candy", he said. "She didn't think that it looked much like a study when she walked in and it looked pretty suspicious that we would quickly turn the TV off when we saw her." She had added that she would be following up with the Chaplain to be certain that we actually had permission to be watching the film as a part of the study. Fortunately for us, we did.

That event actually served to bind the five of us closer together as we continued with the study over the next several months. It helped to mold us into a "Band of Brothers".

1 comment:

Deb said...

This is funny! And scary. Interesting that the heads of the prison are women. There's a story in that somewhere I think.

I'm glad you were getting to have some fun - red vines and all.