It’s funny because I communicate with a lot of people in the span of one day. Prison is a close-knit community in which you might pass the same people at least 20 times inside a day. You pass them on the tiers, the stairwells, at the Jpay kiosks, the facility kiosk, the microwave room, the phones, Chow Hall, Big Yard, Dayroom, in the gym, hallways, college classes, libraries, etc. And I spend the bulk of my day discussing and answering questions about law (civil and criminal), prison grievances, infractions, prison rules, relationships, the weather, and so on. I’m basically dubbed the de facto WSRU Oracle. Ask Jay… he’ll know… he’ll explain it to you.
I mean you wouldn’t believe the issues brought to me inside of a day. I’ll try to walk from my cell to the microwave and literally be bombarded by multiple people and occasionally have them flanked at my side waiting to ask a question. They often get annoyed with each other when one interrupts the other’s conversation with me.
Some come to know me by hearing that the last eight people I’ve showed how to beat their major and minor infractions have won others that I’ve not only succeeded at remitting my LFO’s in court, but also convinced the court to refund me the extra money I paid to my LFO’s and still others that I have tutored prisoners on their academic assignments and they’ve gotten excellent grades, that I offer great relationship advice, that I know how to spell difficult words, or that I am knowledgeable on a plethora of subjects. I’m beginning to realize more and more that there may actually be a downside to being in the same unit cell longer than anyone in D-Unit–almost 13 years.
Of all the conversations I have throughout my day, many depend on me gaging each person’s ability to communicate well. For those who don’t, I simply assist them by asking simpler questions, educating them on the relevant issues, etc. It’s a delicate verbal dance we must partake in to get on the same page. And I watch how others pay dearly for their poor communication with each another. I sometimes pull younger men aside and mentor them on how to approach day-to-day conversations with these differences in mind. Or I encourage them when they do something good.
But of all my daily conversations, there is one person I enjoy conversing with the most. I’ll refer to him as Cee. He is intelligent, even tempered, extremely insightful, and shares my affinity toward legal issues. Though he is less tolerant than me in dealing with the neediness of others, he is yet somewhat approachable and willing to enlighten them.
BRIEF INTERMISSION: someone just popped up at my cell-front with a grievance question.
To most, when Cee and I nerdily converse on topics of interest, they get lost because it seems like our conversations are repetitive (and many times they are). But what we’re doing is using different angles to analyze a topic (or aspect thereof) closer in search of nuggets of golden truth, similar to panning for gold. Though we engage a range of topics (prison issues, relationships, sociology, etc.), our favorite–by far–is the law.
We communicate in hyperlink, jumping from topic to topic, but following an analogous chain of relevance with ease. Our thought processes automatically synchronize and click. We can ultra-analyze the subtlest nuances of law. The soundboarding of our ideas off of each other is free from conflict, ego, and delay. We disagree and agree with complete willingness to defer to each other’s point/s. We speed up or slow down our analysis of subjects in nearly flawless transition. We switch in and out of conversation respectfully sharing mic time.
Then we’ll watch law-based TV shows (e.g., “For the People”) and pick up on things most will not, and later reconvene to compare similar points of recognition. Or we’ll watch Washington Supreme Court oral arguments on TVW and instantly arrive at the same or similar conclusions on particular points of law or characterizations thereof. In fact, I’m watching this morning.
Cee and I are naturally obsessive and compulsive, thinking all day long on something until we see things we previously hadn’t, aspects that unfold from analyzing a matter by constantly switching back and forth from one analytical lens to the next. And when we put our minds to something, we’re like pit bull problem solvers, lock-jawing on a problem until we’ve mentally torn it to shreds.
Interestingly, he is WSRU’s 2017 chess master and I am WSRU’s reigning Scrabble master (2011-2018). We break our respective games down in several ways and study them from angles few venture to do. Also a gambler (whereas I am not), Cee actually figured out a unique way to win at Blackjack 21, by playing with the objective of getting the dealer to bust instead of you trying to win. He sees how things work and tests his theories. While he is not an academically-adept writer, he is a strategical analyst of procedural law.
Categories: Jacob J. Gamet