I live in a teeny-tiny closet sized 12ft x 8ft cell with 2 other women (imagine living in a space the size of a mini-van with 2 other people). I have a small 3ft x 3ft locker to store all of my things: clothes, toiletries, books, letters and food. I share a toilet with my cell-mates that is out in the open with no walls or doors (say hello to no privacy).
Somehow, I have made this all do-able. And, I've adjusted.
However, what is not do-able is when my cellmate turns out to be an early 20's something, loud, immature, highly irrational, insanely irresponsible nutjob.
Take 1 cup teeny space combined with 1 cup of crazy cellmate and you get a recipe for disaster.
And that's what I'm living in.
Yesterday, we had a "room intervention."
A room intervention is when a senior inmate (we call them senior guides here) intervenes in a volatile room situation to mediate to try and make the room livable.
Last night, I spent 3 hours in a room intervention listening to my cellmate's temper tantrum and having her scream at me to "get the f**** out of her room."
This was the exploding point for an already heated situation that began by me asking for some consideration in our morning get-up rituals.
My cellmate is supposed to start work in the kitchen at 3:45 am. For 4 weeks straight she has either slept thru her alarm or her alarm didn't go off because the batteries are too low (and she refuses to replace them because she wastes her money on junk food).
Regardless, she doesn't wake up for work.
And this causes a huge problem.
Our 4 am count is done by unit. Because she starts work before 4 am she is not supposed to be in our unit for that count -- she is "counted" in the kitchen.
The officers here have to clear count and make sure the inmates are properly accounted for and in their right location. That is their job.
My cellmates inability to get up means that the officer on duty has to come to our room to wake her up.
From the hours of 3:15 am to close to 4 am the officer comes by my cell repeatedly to force my cell-mate to get up.Usually, this starts with a small knock on the door and the flashing of a extraordinarily bright blinding light into the room. This alone is not enough to wake her.
The next time the officer comes around he pounds on the door 8 or so times with enough force to scare the crap out of me (a few times I've gotten up and answered the door).
He then opens the door and YELLS at her loudly to get up. I usually ask her to get up at that time also.
This is still not enough.
On the officer's 3rd round, the round where he is obviously pissed because its nearly count time and he can't clear his count, he pounds on the door like he is going to break it down. Then he opens the door to yell at her and wait for her to get up. He spends the next 6-7 minutes at our door yelling at her, rushing her and telling her she is lucky he doesn't give her a shot (disciplinary action that sends you to lockdown) for delaying count.
Of course, this is extremely draining when it happens 4 times out of the week; and, it affects our entire cell as my other cellmate is just as exhausted as I am. It also causes her to sleep later than usual, thus cutting into my mirror time leaving me with under 3 minutes in the sink/mirror, which is barely enough time to brush my teeth.
Rather then continue to live like this, I nicely asked my cellmate if she could please try to fix her alarm so that the officer could stop waking up the entire room. I even offered to let her use my alarm clock or buy her batteries.
She did not want to accept my help, to say the least.
She got obscenely loud, raising her voice and causing a total scene, telling me that if I didn't like the way she chose to wake up she would run to the unit counselor to get me moved.
The basis of her argument was that it was the officer's job to wake her up. He was supposed to be her "personal alarm clock" since she had to leave for the kitchen before count.
I nicely explained that it is affecting our entire cell and asked her to please try to be considerate to the fact we are sleeping until 5:30 am. I encouraged her to go to the unit counselor because I'm quite sure at one time our counselor was that officer waking her up and she would be pissed to see how utterly irresponsible my cellmate is.
Then I left the room to let her continue her dramatic inappropriate outburst by herself since she loves being a one-woman show.
Since that first episode I have had to endure a litany of irritating, rude and disgusting behavior (although the waking up thing has improved to only 2 times a week).
First, my cellmate was on her period and left a large amount of blood on the toilet and a dirty pad on the floor. I cleaned this up and told her what I had found and asked her to be mindful of things like this.
The next time it happened, I showed her the blood and pad and told her I'm not cleaning it up and left her to do it.
The third time it happened I realized she was doing it on purpose to irritate me and I left it there without comment.
Then, she got strep throat and refused to take antibiotics for fear they will give her a yeast infection even though the Doctor told her if that happened they would give her meds.
So...she is sick and coughing and leaves her disgusting toothpaste residue and bloody spit in our sink and doesn't spray it with the disinfectant they give us. (She also continued working in the kitchen.)
Inevitably, my other cellmate got sick and I'm spraying everything down like a maniac to make sure I don't catch it.
Finally, this last incident is one where she was asked to relay some non-important information to a couple of us (we are in a specialized program so this is common) and she went Jerry Springer-guest-style crazy because I wouldn't leave a meeting I was in to talk to her. She literally stood in the hallway outside of the common room I was in and in front of 12 other people started yelling "Davis, come here right now" -- stamping her foot and demanding I come to her.
When I didn't come running, she came into the room I was in to yell at me.This did not work in her favor because the other women in the room told her to stop creating a scene, to lower her voice and to stop demanding I come to her as if I was a dog being barked at.
Basically, that woman asked her to please be mindful of the fact we are in a meeting and to give us 15 minutes.
My cellmate began demanding our immediate attention because she was going to "forget what she was supposed to tell us because she didn't write it down." When the other woman said "That's your issue - don't put your issue on us because you didn't write it down" -- my cellmate went ballistic.
She left the room and followed us yelling "I don't' want this bullshit responsibility" and caused an even greater scene which resulted in senior inmates having to get involved to calm her down.
Then comes the room intervention, which I was forced to painfully sit through.
In the real world, I'd think that this kind of thing might end in the one being talked to potentially accepting some responsibility for their actions and things getting better.
But this is not the real world, this is prison.
And her response was to ignore her issues and try to place blame on me by exploding and telling me to "get the f** out of her room" because its her room and she can do this.
Yes, even in prison people have weird entitlement issues.
It's a cell -- not a room. It belongs to no one but the Federal Government. She has only been in that room one month longer then me so she has no reason to be attached to the space.
But perhaps it's because she is in the princess bed (the one bed by itself with more storage) and knows if she has to move she will have to give up that coveted spot.
Quite frankly, I could care less and I will move cells. She can have her princess bed. I'm not getting attached to this place, I'm going home.