Staying out of Trouble.
My prison consultant, Justin Paperny, told me to watch out for many things before I came to prison. He specifically told Me not to borrow anything from any other prisoner as trouble often follows such transactions. Last weekend, I witnessed firsthand, the issues that can arise in such situations. I was in the unit lobby when two prisoners burst through the door yelling at one another. The gist of the argument was that one prisoner had failed to pay the other for something. I left the lobby immediately as I always walk away from any high risk situation in prison. I learned later that no blows were exchanged but one prisoner was acting in a very threatening manner.
Justin also told me to avoid the television room as trouble often arises over disputes about what show to watch. Prisoners are also very protective of their TV room “spots”. I was in the TV room the other day after lunch watching CNN. A total of 3 people were in the room which has 30 seats. Out of the blue, a guy came up and kicked my chair leg, grunted, and motioned for me to get up out of his chair. I wanted to say something smart but I decided to act in a rational fashion. I got up and moved over one seat. The guy sat down next to me for approximately two minutes and left. It was clear that He just wanted to hassle me because I was sitting in his spot. In prison, you need to check your pride and ego every single day. When I think about it, I would have been much better off if I had checked my pride and ego in the real world.
Finally, I have to add a little prison bathroom etiquette to this post. A new prisoner was sitting in a bathroom stall when another prisoner entered the bathroom and yelled, Water! Water! He did not understand why the other prisoner was yelling Water! Water! I later explained to him that the other prisoner was requesting a courtesy flush. He was embarrassed!