“Wait!” I said, catching him by surprise. “Don’t throw that away yet. What can we use it for?” He picked it up and examined it.
Ad Seg (the Hole) deprives us of many basic tools; things we take for granted on a daily basis are noticeably absent in here. So we adjust and make do.
According to the law, prison is the just consequence for certain crimes. The court metes out the punishment; prison’s job is to keep the criminal away from society and rehabilitate him. It is not the job of the prison or its staff to punish.
Because of this, prisons allow inmates to purchase basic needs, and at times more. This forces the inmate to learn responsibility, social interaction, and the skills to function in normal society. Basically, the prison world is a micro-culture that is structured to prepare an inmate for reentry into the outside world.
The Hole, however, is a world unto itself. It functions as the jail for the prison, so the luxuries an inmate may have enjoyed are taken away. The Hole is true punishment. “Needs” is redefined.
An inmate inside the Hole has two choices: sink or swim. Anything and everything that we are allowed to have must be carefully examined for a second use. What used to be trash becomes our treasure.
For example, a chip bag that has a silver liner is washed, stripped of its outside layers, then the liner is spread out and used as a mirror. A brown paper lunch bag becomes a storage organizer/sorter. Metered stamps from envelopes become scotch tape. Our breakfast half-pint milk cartons become our everyday cups, small item organizers, and soap dishes.
To most of you, these items are simple throwaways. Even in a regular prison – not the Hole – we take these products for granted. In the Hole, however, one must think twice before throwing anything away. A seemingly useless article can be a valuable asset.
We are given toothpowder in small envelopes. My cellmate and I had just finished combining both issues of toothpowder into one envelope. Without thinking he threw his now-empty, coin-sized envelope into the brown paper bag we call trash. “Wait!” I said.
He was surprised, and looked at me like he had done something wrong. “Don’t throw it away yet. What can we use it for?” We needed to find a secondary use for this perfectly good envelope. Picking the envelope up, he turned it in his fingers as we brainstormed together, eventually coming up with several uses for it.
I can’t help but see myself in these useless – trash! – items. Many see me as society’s trash. I am of no good to them or the world, providing nothing of value. I am a throwaway and belong in the trash bin of civilization – prison. However, God takes the useless and uses us for His good purpose, and for His glory. He sees beyond our inadequacy and sees a soul that in His hands is worthy. He changes trash to treasure.
Praise be to God, He has turned my useless self into someone whose little stories have impacted lives. Who knew that this untrained, broken soul would be of use to anyone at all?
Do you feel useless? Have others said you are trash to them? Has the fast-paced world placed you on the sidelines? Don’t be discouraged by this; don’t let your feelings slow you down. Your Creator will make you useful. Surrender to His plan for you.
……….the recycling king……….
Adrian G. Torres