In the last 28 hours I’ve done two things I’ve never done before. First, I went to a High School Football game, and second, I went to a prison.
The Football game was last night-Friday night. My brother Steven recently started playing football, and this was the first game he was allowed to play, although the coach fudged the rules and let him play for a couple minutes last week. But anyway.
It was an away game, against the Pleasant Hill Billies. (Town: Pleasant Hill. Team: Billies. I know, right?) It was a much bigger deal than I thought it would be. I guess I kind of expected it to be like the High School basketball games I’ve been to-a small crowd of spectators who seem to know each other well, an old lady sitting at a card table taking your money and stamping your hand, maybe a couple cheerleaders doing halfhearted cheers.
But either football games are a much bigger deal than basketball games, or the Pleasant Hillbillies take their sports very seriously. There was a huge line to get in, even after the game started, and an actual booth to pay at. There was a large concession area and people selling Billie Goat sweatshirts and a marching band and cheerleaders who led the roaring crowd in cheer after cheer the entire game.
Well anyway. The game started, and I picked out Steven in the crowd of purple-and-white clad players. I’d never seen him in uniform before, and I felt so proud. I just kept waiting for to coach to put him in the game, but he didn’t. The Eagles were losing badly. I was sure the two were connected.
Finally Steven got to play, and got a tackle right away. I proudly informed the woman beside me that that was MY brother. But Steven still rarely got to play, and the Eagles still lost very badly, and I was still sure that the first caused the second.
After that exciting venture I went to bed, and then proceeded to get up at 5:30 a.m. and go to a prison.
Gospel Echoes had what they call a freedom rally today. This consisted of going into a prison, having a service for the inmates, and then having a huge cookout with hamburgers and hotdogs and chips and potato salad for all the inmates, and then having another service.
Since it was a men’s prison, they told us that ladies shouldn’t go off by themselves and talk to the men, even if we had another lady with us. We were supposed to have a guy with us. That was kind of frustrating for me, because I didn’t really have anyone to go around and talk to people with.
We all stood in a line and formed the plates of food in an assembly line. I had the job of putting tomatoes on all the hamburgers. We got to interact with the inmates a little as they filed by, but there wasn’t time for conversation. One guy winked at me, which I thought was creepy.
Later, my friends and I were sitting and eating our food, and a guy came and started chatting to the group. He was very friendly, and I would have enjoyed this chance to talk to an inmate except for the fact that it was the same guy who winked at me, so I was slightly creeped out the entire time.
The weird thing was, this guy told me he went to Linn Benton spring term, before he got arrested, and he recognized me from there. We weren’t supposed to ask what they were in prison for, and the guy never told us, but he gave some strong hints. When I think about it, I could see people I know (or kind of know) from college being stupid and getting busted for the same thing. Which put things in perspective for me. Like, this guy was more than a prison inmate, he was a guy that I could potentially know and run into at college on a semi-frequent basis.
All in all he was interesting to talk to, but I would have enjoyed the experience much more if he didn’t keep winking.
Aside from Mr. Winky, I hardly talked to anyone else. There was one Hispanic guy who wrote music that I talked to briefly with my parents, and another guy who was getting out in forty days and was going to see his two year old daughter. He said he’d only been a dad for thirty days, because all the rest of her young life he’s been in prison. He seemed scared that he was just going to make more bad choices and end up back behind bars shortly.
Well anyway. It was a good experience, even if I didn’t have a lot of meaningful conversation. I guess that is just somewhat the reality of going into a men’s prison as a single woman. Maybe the next thing I should do that I’ve never done before is go into a woman’s prison.