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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

March 15th, 2007

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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.

G2: Hi.

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."

G2: *grunt*

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: amusedamused
Current Music: "The Captain and the Kid", -JB

(19 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 15th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
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 :)
[User Picture]
Date:March 15th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :D

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