March 15th, 2007
|10:35 am - Accosted by Gideons in Jail (a conversation)|
Coming out of the cell Tuesday night, the nice (and rather pretty) dispatch girls let me out through the security doors. I stepped out of the secure area and went to sign myself out. There was a man (G2) and a woman (G1) at the reception desk, and I found I'd already been signed out, apparently, when I'd called dispatch.
Me: Well, I guess I'm no longer here. Someone already signed me out.
G1: So you're a pastor?
Me: I am.
[I smile that charming ADF Clergy Smile™ we're all known for]
G1: It's always nice to see pastors around here. What church are you from?
Me: Ár nDraíocht Féin
[G1 looks confused, so I add:]
A Druid Fellowship.
G1: Oh. What kind of church is that?
[Obviously, my clarification didn't help]
Me: We're a Neo-Pagan church.
G1: Oh. We're Gideons, my husband and I. And so's our son. He's still back there. We're the people with the Bibles.
Me: Of course. You guys do great work. I love seeing you out there. It's nice to encounter folks who just want to share, not push.
G1: So you don't preach the Gospel?
[Now I noticed the dog-eared Bible open in front of her. She was reading Mark]
Me: No, ma'am. I do not.
G1: Well, I'll pray for you, too, then.
Me: I do appreciate that, ma'am. It's always good to be the object of love from your fellows. So thank you.
[I smiled more broadly now]
G1: Are you local?
Me: No, ma'am. I'm from Columbus. One of our members is residing here. I come up when I can, but not as often as I'd really like.
G1: Columbus? That's a long way to come for up here. Did you have problems getting up here during those snowstorms?
Me: Actually, I watched the weather and got in and out just before that one hit. It was a heck of a drive, but it was worth it. It's about a three-hour round trip, give or take, and I know that the roads aren't exactly the best to be driving on in that weather.
G1: We came up once a week. They were surprised to see us that night, let me tell you, in our four-wheel drive with our bibles in hand! "Why'd you come up tonight?" they asked. "It's not for us," my husband told them. "They need us in there."
Me: Do you come up every Sunday night?
[pause, during which I realize it's not Sunday]
G1: Every Tuesday. Today's Tuesday.
Me: Oops. There I go, getting confused. Of course it's not Sunday.
[Mentally, I note that I still associate "doing religious stuff with Christians" as "Sunday only" events]
G1: Yeah, we made it up here and went back. They sure were happy to see us. You know, we go back into the cells, you know, back there.
Me: Back on the floor?
G1: Yeah. You just go back there, right? Back to the interview rooms?
Me: Yes, that's as far as I've been. I've never been back on the floor. I'm not sure what it's actually like back there.
G1: Well, at least you get to sit in a room alone with them. Their families don't even get that privileged. They have to talk through a glass window.
Me: I know. I really do feel very lucky to get to sit down and talk, with nothing between us. I wish that they'd get the chance with their families, too.
G1: You know, every time I go back there, I sit down with any who come by, and we read some of the Good Book, and we talk about whatever they want to talk about, and then, before I leave, the last thing I do is give them a hug. You know, that physical contact. . . they just don't get hugs in here.
Me: That's really good. I'm glad that you do that. Physical contact is very important.
["I hadn't thought of that," I think. "I'm here visiting a Pagan and I never thought that a hug was something that might be needed. I'm a dope." A mental note is made to do that next time, because, you know, I can.]
G1: How often do you come up here?
Me: I try and get up about once every two weeks. Weather has prevented me recently, though. This was really the first break where I've had a chance to come up in almost a month. It's a long drive, and the work I do for Ohio State often prevents me from making it up on a week day.
G1: What do you do at Ohio State?
Me: I do some work for the IT department there. Keeps me busy.
G1: I wonder if my son knows you. You know, he sang in the Men's Glee Club for 12 years. He holds the record. They gave him a little gold clock when he left.
[Brief discussion of who he is and why I would never have met him, plus a formal introduction of names, during which I shake G2's hand and he goes back to being disinterested in the conversation]
Me: [glancing at the clock again for the eightieth time and still trying to be polite] Well, it's a long drive back to Columbus, and I have another call to make tonight. But I did want to say "thank you" for being there when these men and women need it.
G1: Thank you, too. It was a pleasure to meet you.
Me: And you. Good night.
[exit, stage left, and make the long drive back to Columbus.]
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: amused
Current Music: "The Captain and the Kid", -JB
that was darn right.... pleasant of you...
you are such a good person...
at least they didn't ask for your number...grin...
Well, they were pleasant to me, so I was as pleasant as possible to them, too. Plus, there's at least one Pagan inmate there, and how they view that inmate will be coloured by how they view that inmates clergy. So it paid off in huge dividends to be as polished, polite, and nice as possible.
(And anyway, they didn't really "accost" me, I just couldn't pass up the chance to write "accosted by Gideons" as the title . . .)
grin I understand... you take a very progressive look at inmate/religion relations..
So did you offer a hug at the end of your meeting with the inmate?
The above conversation occurred after the meeting, so no. But I will next time.
I'll say. I like them a lot. I don't recall ever having a single issue with one. Generally very nice folk.
Excellent. A very morally responsible conversation, on both sides. Well, maybe not so much the G2 and his grunts and disinterest, but at least you and the lady got along well enough.
And I'm stealing your line about being the "object of love from your fellows." As a skeptic, I always have a hard time knowing how to graciously accept the prayers of others in a genuine way beyond a simple thank you.
I think that G2 was mostly just tired. I mean, both were pretty darn old, and I imagine that going back to the floor can really take a toll on someone, especially given how much it takes me to be just in an interview cell. But I imagine that it's as rewarding for him as the experience has turned out to be for me.
And yeah, the "I'll pray for you" line is notoriously hard to counter. As a Pagan, it's enough usually to say, "Thanks, I'll pray for you, too!" because that tends to have the same effect on the originator of the "I'll pray for you" that is often intended by that statement, and it's a nice sentiment to boot if they're just intending to be a good person and pray for you. Provided you actually do it, of course.
Wow, that was a long sentence, and convoluted. Basically, "I'll pray for you" can be returned with the same intent, whether that intent was to unsettle or to be nice.
As a skeptic who (I'm just guessing) doesn't do a lot of praying on a regular basis, it's hard to say that and have it taken seriously.
But in situations like the one I was in, I figured that having a polite discussion was of larger benefit to the inmate, and inmates have enough problems with legitimacy without someone's opinion of me affecting the legitimacy of their religion. Heck, this inmate I go to see has already had issues with legal counsel not accepting their religion.
So, in casting about to find something nice and easy, I sort of settled on that.
And, of course, you're more than welcome to steal it :)
And yeah, the "I'll pray for you" line is notoriously hard to counter. As a Pagan, it's enough usually to say, "Thanks, I'll pray for you, too!"
I prefer to say "Thanks, I need all the prayer I can get!" Then I smile and continue on with whatever was happening before. I think that's part and parcel with how I see prayer, though, honestly ... I don't think it's possible to coerce someone into doing something through prayer (for instance, the prayers my relations would give for me to 'come back to the church' would have little effect on me because (1) I don't believe they would effect me and (2) The above point I made about coercion.
Also, I truly believe that one of the reasons I recovered so well from being sick in 2001 (I have no real residual damage from that, and many people I've spoken to who were less bad off have worse residual problems) is because of prayer. So, I have a pretty good relationship with the idea of being prayed for. More people should pray for me, I like the attention.
You know it might be important to know who signed out as you...
especially considering you never know what could happen if that occurs again, considering a prison that doesn't know you are still on the grounds.
It was timestamped at about the time I called to be let out of the cell, so I'm imagining that it was one of the cute dispatchers. But I know where the buttons are if something goes wrong, so I'm not too concerned about it, though I see your point, and accept that you're probably right :)
Most clergy and lawyers, though, don't actually sign out, so I think this might be a proactive way of getting a "time out" on the record book.
What a nice conversation!
Thanks. It was a good one. :)
Two things that struck me-
1. Interesting conversation.
2. You are awesome.
2a) I try. I mostly fail, but I try.
2b) Thank you.
You don't need to try to be awesome, you generally just are. It's one of those cool things about you.
The Gideons out here are very pushy. They come in swarms and pester everyone who comes past. Once, when walking 2 blocks from one class to the next, I was addressed by 10 of them. I counted.
|Date:||March 15th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)|| |
I like the Gideons...from afar, at least. I'm not sure I've ever actually met one in person. Maybe when I was in elementary school and they came and gave everyone a tiny New Testament (you know that was a long time ago, when they gave out Bibles in public schools!). I'm glad you had a positive experience. Anyway I really admire and love their hardcover Bibles. Best construction ever, made to last!
I tried to read this through, but I got so damn annoyed that you kept calling her 'ma'am' that I had trouble. I hate 'ma'am.' Surely there's a better alternative, right? There's got to be. I used to get ma'amed all the time at Kings Island, and I just wanted to shout "I'm 16! Don't ma'am me, you ass!"
'Miss' or "Ms." is much better... a lot less smarmy.
It's also insulting to a married woman to call her "Miss". And how do you say "Yes, Ms." without looking like a dweeb?
Some people accept their titles, and others refuse them. I, for instance, refuse "mister". I will correct folk on its use (and do on the ADF lists quite often).
If a person doesn't wish to be called something, they'll say so. No reason to worry about it until then.