It happened twice, two days in a row. Both times I was forgotten. Time moved, but I didn’t. I was left alone, cuffed, in a stand-up-only cage.
I love business. I truly enjoy the art of growing a business and pivoting to keep up with demands and market trends. Business comes easily to me. I am intrigued by the working parts, especially sales and P.R. (Public Relations.) All businesses are based on sales, and to sell itself a business needs P.R.
The image of the business is carefully shaped by a good team. This team must always be ready to provide the image the company wishes to project. This is exactly what I’ve been practicing in Ad Seg (the Hole.)
I have made it part of my Business Plan to be a witness in all that I do. My testimony – my words and actions – speak volumes while I am here. I remind myself to say “please” and “thank you.” I obey all orders from the start, and try not to complain, even when I’m treated unfairly. The small things speak with loud voices. Through God’s kindness, I was twice shown that at least someone is listening to my quiet witness.
The first time, I was surprised early in the morning that I was going to be taken to have my picture taken. As I left my cell, cuffed and under escort, the officer in the lead was told to halt. I was then taken to the stand-up holding cages. These cages are a bit smaller than phone booths, and only meant to be used for short periods of time. I was left cuffed, with my hands behind me, with the assurance that I would not be there very long. Sounded okay to me, but it’s not like I had a choice.
If I pressed my face against the grill, looking left, I could see the clock on the wall. Ten minutes passed, with me thinking it was nine minutes too many. Thirty minutes after I was put in, an officer walked by the cage on his way somewhere else. As he walked past me, he stopped, looked at me, snapped his fingers and pointed at me. “Oh, yeah!” he said to himself, as if he had just remembered me. Then he left.
I didn’t say a word. I just stood there quietly.
Sixty minutes after I was put in, I could hear the breakfast plates being passed to each cell. The “clank” of each tray slot opening, then closing, echoed to where I stood captive. I wasn’t worried about missing breakfast, because I was certain my cellmate would request mine and would hold it for me. I stood quietly, giving silent thanks for the breakfast the Lord had provided that morning, knowing I would enjoy it later.
One hour and five minutes from the time I was put in, another officer walked by and was stunned to see an inmate, cuffed, in the cage. “Whose inmate is this?!” he yelled. Someone returned his question with a curse, then said, “He’s mine! He is going out for a picture!” The officer who asked looked at me, then continued to his intended destination. I didn’t say a word; I just stood quietly.
A full hour and 45 minutes after I was put in the cage the first officer came back. “Torres, we are going to take you back to your cell.” “’R&R’, (the department where the pictures are taken) canceled. We will reschedule it for tomorrow.”
“Great,” was my only reply.
An officer nearby came over and addressed his partner. “This inmate has been nothing but patient. He didn’t complain or kick the cage like most would have if left in there cuffed for this amount of time. I like this man’s attitude.” He then turned to me and said, “Did you eat yet, Torres?”
I shook my head. “Give him double,” he told his partner.
I interrupted in the most polite way I could, “Sir, I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure my cellmate is holding my plate.”
“Honest, too,” the officer told his partner. “For that give him an extra breakfast plate AND an extra lunch sack.”
I was then taken back to my cell. Once inside, the officer slipped in an extra lunch and tray. Within three minutes the officers were back. R&R had called for me again. I smiled, downed my milk, and happily went to get my picture taken.
The following day I had a scheduled doctor’s appointment. According to my notice, received the day before, my appointment wasn’t until 11:20 a.m. This gave me plenty of time to use the restroom, write a little, answer mail, and maybe fit in an early lunch. To my surprise, at 8:30 the escort officers came to pick me up. They took me to the same set of stand-up cages. I was told I needed to wait until the doctor made his way down his patient list.
I nodded my head, indicating I understood, and prepared myself for a long wait. It’s a good thing I did, because that is exactly what I did. Others in cages next to me kicked their cage doors in protest as the minutes ticked by. They complained in rude tones every time an officer passed by. I stood there quietly, smiling at everyone who happened to look my way.
At 11:35, fifteen minutes after my scheduled appointment, the doctor called my name. Once I was done with my appointment I was taken right back to the cage. I was told I needed to wait until everyone was done.
“Okay, sir,” I said, and smiled. The officer looked at me, then his wrist watch, and yelled to his partner, “I’m taking this one back to his cell.” Then he told me, “I like your attitude.”
Once in my cell I rejoiced at my P.R. opportunity to represent the One I served. My heart danced, knowing my quiet witness had been heard.
The world is getting worse, and many times it’s difficult to share your faith with words. Your job might not allow it. Your government might have laws against it. Maybe those who need to hear the Gospel are just plain hard to talk to. There is still hope.
Quiet witnessing, whether through actions or speech, is the perfect P.R. tool. We might think, because we are quiet, we are not being heard. In truth, our quiet witness may be louder than everything else.
So don’t lose faith. Shout your witness with quiet P.R., for the glory of God.
……..in the business of souls……..
Adrian G. Torres