I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  The call had come the previous day letting several inmates know that they should pack up because they were going to be moved.  I was not among them.  One who was included was Saddlebags who himself was headed to a facility in Milwaukee.  Once it became known an inmate is on his way out the vultures come out after their canteen and other possessions.  They use various manipulations or guilt trips on the departing inmate such as lying to them about what they’ll be allowed to have at the next facility or about how pathetic it is to take their canteen with them.  In his case another tactic is employed – theft.  He resides in the aisle next to me and in the early morning hours he discovered the light bulb in his lamp on his bunk had been taken.  Saddlebags tried intimidation and pleading to try to get the light bulb back.  Those in the aisle clearly enjoyed seeing him squirm and gave him replies that only fueled his rage and desperation.  It wasn’t about the light bulb anymore.  They were exposing him as a punk, one who couldn’t protect himself or his things and Saddlebags was attempting to regain a measure of self respect by getting the light bulb back.  What he didn’t understand was the more he tried and failed, the more he put himself on display as the laughing stock of those in his aisle.  I must confess at the time this was going on I was laughing too.  I simply don’t like him, haven’t since the moment I met him.  I tired of listening to his bravado, his disregard for others well being, and how he had hurt others.  But the lesson of why someone shouldn’t laugh at someone else’s misfortune would become evident soon.  Part of the fallout of the first shakedown was that lamps, radios and other electronics that had been altered had either been confiscated, or what had been altered was confiscated often rendering the item useless. Since we’ve had an epidemic of theft of things you wouldn’t consider stealing under normal circumstances.  Wire that is used for an antenna, insulation in a lamp, cardboard and string are such examples.  If it wasn’t part of the device in its original state it got taken.  Inmates often will use materials to enhance or prolong the life of a device.  With much of that material gone, people are scavenging for such.   When I returned from lunch, I found that the insulation in my lamp had been tampered with.  But whoever had tried to take it had ripped too hard on the socket connecting the light bulb, ripping some of the wiring with it.  The lamp had been rendered useless.  Present were my cellie (bunkmate) and those next to my bunk.  They all looked at me out of the corner of their eye but not saying a word.  They knew, they had seen whomever tampered with the lamp but hadn’t said a word then and weren’t saying a word now.  As I’ve said before, though we all act as friends, there is no loyalty.  I didn’t say a word.  I took the lamp down and locked it up having determined I would destroy it rather than give the pieces to anyone else.  I acted like nothing happened.  It kind of fits.  It wasn’t my lamp to begin with.  I don’t dare act like I own it with any credibility. And I had laughed when  Saddlebag’s light bulb had been stolen though the circumstances were different.  I deserved what had happened here and I resolved not to be so smug in the future. 

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