Life of the Potty

By Mike Powers

Some things about life in prison you can easily imagine. Others you might not think of at all. And still others are what you think you can easily imagine, yet still haven’t he foggiest notion of what the experience is actually like. Using the bathroom is just such an experience.

It’s all too easy for a free citizen to imagine how horrible it would be to become consigned to a life of captive toileting, but the reality of the thing is different in so many ways. My first cell in Euless city jail was comparable to what the public usually thinks of as a “drunk tank”. I was housed with several other fellows who came and went while I stayed for several days. I have no change of clothes, and there were no shower facilities in this first cell. I didn’t even know enough about being locked up to think this was out of the ordinary for “long-term” inmates. There was one stainless steel toilet behind a half-wall that offered relative privacy. And even when I was moved into the back of the jail with those awaiting transport to county, I had a toilet/shower area behind a wall, even though there was a camera watching the cell’s interior.

For me, the real unpleasantness concerning using the restroom began after I made bond. As part of my conditions, I was required to check in once a week with thy bond officer. A weekly drug test was also given. The administrator of said drug test was a flamboyant homosexual — which I suppose brought great amusement to the governing authorities, because this man’s job was to monitor us while we tried, oft in vain, to pee in a cup before this enraptured audience. He would require the complete removal of any clothing above the socks and below the waist. Your shirt had to be hitched up. And then “all” you had to do was pee in the cup... in front of this goggle-eyed homosexual. Now, there were times in the past that I couldn’t even pee at a bar when I’d been drinking beers all night just because there wasn’t any divider between the urinals. I had terrible stage fright.  BUT, if you couldn’t get enough pee in the cup to satisfy the tester and do it in less than two hours, it was an automatic fail which meant going back to jail with bond revoked. That’s a huge incentive to pee.

The first time I went through this ordeal, I finally succeeded with moments to spare by excruciating manipulation of every muscle in the male form used to squirt urine, a sink with the water turned all the way on, and the tester’s acquiescence to stop staring at my penis JUST long enough to get the first few drops of precious, yellow liquid moving into the cup.

Subsequent tests went much better after thoughtful and careful planning. First, don’t pee when you get out of bed. Second, drink a full, 20-ounce bottle of water and chase that with a cup of coffee. Three, drive as quickly as Metroplex traffic will allow to the probation office. Four, use the adjoining, regularly fitted public men’s room to “get started” and then stop peeing in Mid-flow. I pause here for a moment to interject that any red-blooded American male knows exactly what I’m talking about here in the form of exquisite torture in order to accomplish my pee-test task against all stacked odds. Finally, I’d have to zip up, dash into the next room praying that no one was ahead of me in line, grab my cup, strip out of my pants, and finally release with the utmost pleasurable relief all that pent up liquid. I think my man-loving buddy could have invited all of his buddies and stood them around in a circle, and I still would have been able to get at least enough for the test. It’s worth noting that sometimes, I’d only be able to pee enough to barely make the test level, an then I’d have to put my pants on, dash back into the public men’s room and let go the remainder of the bladder’s fill. In these moments, I felt just like Tom Hanks in The Green Mile when he takes his first piss after his urinary tract infection is healed.

Now, all of this was before my prison days. You’ve read that the TDCJ will take every last vestige of modesty out of you, no matter how prudish you are. For example, the last drug test I had was administered by Lieutenant Collins on the Stevenson Unit. She... yes, you read that right...SHE would require that you remove ALL of your clothing except shoes and socks, presumably so that you didn’t have to slosh around in other people’s piss while testing. (As an interesting aside, Lt. Collins was also openly homosexual.) Shamelessly, I’d pee.

My friends, I am not now, nor have I EVER been, a drug user. My crime did not involve the use of narcotics or alcohol, and no one has ever alleged any involvement in any of these activities. And yet, besides the extreme emotional cost to my person, what about the actual fiscal waste involved in repeatedly drug testing someone without the slightest hint of any history of drug use at all. But once again, the modern Texas criminal justice system doesn’t need to concern itself with such triviality, because, after all, it’s YOUR money being literally flushed down the toilet, not their own. The only purpose these tests serve in my own case was in the process by which the state wants to dehumanize the accused and the convicted to make their maltreatment easier to bear on the public conscious. Shameful, I’d say.

Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. Ah, these wonderful freedoms we enjoy to such a great degree. (Though less prized and less protected, it seems, with each given day.) To these, might we add the right to pee? Yes, I know I gave up a lot of my rights when I broke the law. Take my liberty, but let my urine flow.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez