Boredom. It’s more than a feeling; it’s a state of mind. Once you get it in your head that you’re bored you’re done for. The worst part of jail is that it’s boring. Boredom was the reason that I was there. Some people think that Depression is something comes out of nowhere and others believe that people get depressed as a result of how they live their lives. Depression, like boredom, is mostly a mindset. I was terribly depressed with my life, my meds weren’t working, I was having debilitating panic attacks on a regular basis so I thought life couldn’t get much worse and turned to crime. It fits a logical framework when you think about it. If you believe that you have very little going for you then you’re going to do things that the average person would not.
Boredom is everywhere when you’re inside. There is no activity that is going to make life interesting for you in there. Your level of happiness is directly determined by the sum of the three best things that could happen to you at any given time. Happiness therefore is constantly in flux. Boredom likewise is also in flux. The problem with boredom on the inside is that the key to overcoming it (stimulating activity) is constantly beyond your grasp. You will not do anything in jail that is fun. It just doesn’t work that way. The best part of our day was usually sitting down at a cafeteria style table at about eight o’clock at night and watching “Cops” with the CO’s. That is not fun I don’t care what your environment is. It’s really not fun when you’re in jail.
Weekends were by far the most boring time in jail. Saturdays were bad, but Sundays were worse because we had usually exhausted all our good ideas for curing boredom on Saturday. On Sundays, we got the newspaper which for me meant I had to get up as early as possible so I could get to the crossword before anyone had the chance to ruin it for me. I had seen what happened when I wasn’t the one to complete the crossword. The entire thing was filled out incorrectly and usually it was done in pen. The crossword puzzle had been an instrument of learning for me since I was a kid. My grandpa could usually do the crossword puzzle in under the allotted time on the puzzle. I remember going over to his apartment one day and reading the answers to his crossword. There were some spelling errors and questionable answers that I saw. One of the great things about my grandpa was that he would actually listen to what you had to say and consider it. When you’re a kid of nine or ten years old you’re not used to adults actually considering what you have to say.
The best way to get better at crosswords is to look at completed crosswords before you try the next one. Every day before attempting the crossword I always checked out the puzzle from the day before because knowing how the person who had created the crossword was thinking as paramount to my success in filling out the day’s crossword that I was working on. Reading through Grandpa’s sometimes right and sometimes wrong crossword puzzles had made me a very good editor. I was able to spot things that didn’t belong with everything else, but I also knew you had to read through the smaller details and know where the mistakes can happen. What I did in jail when someone got the crossword before I did was correct their crossword after they finished with it. No one ever completed a crossword except me and the few answers that were filled in were usually filled in incorrectly.
People will mess with you when they know that there’s something you care about. One guy took a sharpie and changed the crossword thinking I wouldn’t notice and then thought it was funny when I confronted him about it. I understand now that this is a part of my Aspegers. It’s not that I cannot take a joke it’s that I don’t consider something like that to be a joke. Ruining what little entertainment I have is not funny though they probably did enjoy picking on me. One guy actually cut out the crossword and hid it from me. A few days later the CO’s got an anonymous tip that there might be contraband in this man’s locker. Sure enough there was because I had put it there the night before. The man swore he’d split me in two if he ever saw me again, which seemed unlikely seeing as how he was now headed to a higher security jail and I was due for release in a few days.
The one thing that I absolutely did not understand even if it was a cure for some people’s boredom was networking. People wanted to learn things about me and expected me to be similarly interested. It was like they expected to see me again or that I would acknowledge their existence on the outside if we ran into each other. Being in jail is not a positive experience. It’s taken a lot of work to try and erase that part of my life from my mind. If I see you on the outside I’m not going to say hi to you or even admit that I know you. I had one guy try and hold a conversation with me when he saw me on the street. I pretended I didn’t know the guy because nothing he ever touched turned out well in life. Maybe that’s a bad attitude to take towards people, but when it comes to people from the inside and people on the outside I consider them to be different worlds. No one I would meet on the inside would ever do anything positive for me on the outside. The fact that I was unwilling to socialize likely added to my boredom, but I quickly learned that there was very little that I had in common with these people anyways. While they were talking I was journaling or reading. When they watched their prime time TV I was filling out the crossword puzzle. The key to making it through my jail experience I discovered was in being as unlike everyone else as possible. Since most of the people in there were repeat offenders there was very little that they could offer me that I’d be interested in hearing and the boredom that I dealt with while I was inside was the punishment I paid for being anti-social. I’ll take boredom over congregating with criminals any day.