Trifles

By Mike Powers

Chinese water torture. Just the sound of it send shivers down the spine, and this exquisite torture is actually of a very simple nature mechanically speaking. It consists of a single drop of water falling onto the same exact spot on the body over and over again. It doesn't sound terrible at all, does it? But just imagine for a moment the last time you were kept awake by that dripping faucet in the bathroom or the time your big brother played the “tapping game on your forehead with his index finger, and we can gather some inkling of just how bad the torture could be. And really, it must be bad, because the largest population on earth swears by it.

They're not the only ones. A modern-day version of the Chinese water torture is alive and well in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. How, you might ask? Oh, let me count the ways. See, if torture is a simple, non-ending repetition of small irritations, then the TDCJ is the master of disaster when it comes to inhumane treatment.

It is really no big deal that an officer will come to the door, call out a scheduled activity, and then promptly slam the door closed resulting in everyone on the wrong side of said door waiting for it to be reopened so they can proceed. It's almost nothing. Oh, but how great is the chasm between “nothing" and “almost nothing". There are at least a score of reasons to open the door and call out an activity throughout the day, not the least of which is chow. Chow alone accounts for three of those call-outs a day. Now imagine this call out and the door shut in your face three times a day, seven days a week, for just one year. That's over one thousand times. Slam. SLAM. SLAM! Drip. DRIP. DRIP! Until, one day, you snap and can't take it anymore. Some poor schmuck starts ranting at the officer who has finally thrown up the straw that broke the offender's will. Pepper spray is drawn. Disciplinary cases are written. The maniacal offender is taken away to seg. And for what, I ask? For the want of the smallest courtesy of keeping the door open after inviting people to exit through it, after all. A mere trifle.

And speaking of drips, why not talk a little about prisoners and toilet flushing. I do not lie. I am telling you the truth. One man using the dayroom toilet to urinate the other day flushed ten times, and that was after I started counting. TEN TIMES! You can't even duplicate this trick in most homes, because it takes too long for the toilet to refill, but if you are an evil ecoterrorist, just give it try next time you're in the McDonald's bathroom. Flush. Flush. Flush. Flush... The whole time you're going. Not only does it drive you nuts to listen to it, your soul wants to weep at the gallons of water that some thirsty human will never taste. It's madness, I say - madness.

Waiting in line all the time for every little thing becomes a burden that can't be carried another step. We queue up for meals. We line up for medicine. For church. For rec. For education. Maybe we can put together the creative ingenuity and collective intelligence of mankind and figure out another way to process people. The line has got to go. No more drive-throughs. No more ticket booths. No more waiting for your turn to ride the rides at Six Flags. Let the queue lie in the grave with wagons, telegraphs machines, open top presidential limousines. We can do it, if we only put our minds to it.

They sell these crappy radios in TDCJ. They have apparently been manufactured with the absolute cheapest tuners to be had in all of China. I say this, because the tuners will just “walk off" any station they are set to. If you don't mind hovering over your radio while you listen to the music and retune it every half minute or so, you're good. But if you're one of those people (like me) that was brought up spoiled on radios that stay on the station they've been tuned to, then this will drive you bonkers. And really, I think the Chinese Communists have something to do with it, because it seems diabolical. You'll tune the radio, get a good station going. Hold your breath so it doesn't “walk off" the station. And as soon as you climb in bed - WHAMO! You've got nothing but static. Insanity.

I'd like to open up just one, little bag of chips without the el cheapo bag ripping all the way down the side. I mean, I get it. We want to save money on packaging so we can squeeze every penny of profit out of that bag of chips. We want Barbco, Inc. to be in the black at the end of Fiscal ‘19. I really understand. But I promise you that we'd pay the extra nickel for a bag that doesn't suck. We really, really would. How about every third bag? We'd even settle for that. At least there would be someplace to put all the chips when the crap bags give way! Are we asking for too much here? After all, we may be prisoners, but we are paying for the stupid chips. Just put them in a bag that can hold up to... oh, I don't know - OPENING! It's not too much to ask, people.

ESPN's bottom line used to be great. I'm not much of a sports fanatic, but I like to keep abreast of the scores, so it was perfect. In ten minutes or less, I could get a rundown on what the final result was in all the games. Have you seen it lately? First of all, don't even try to make it all the way through a cycle. There's not enough time in the day. Every single score comes with ticker after ticker of useless information. Want to know how many times Lebron tied his shoes last night against the Warriors? Just manage to catch L.A. on the bottom line.

It's too much for me. I'm going to get some Chinese radio torture.

 
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