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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Bunk, part 2

And when the trucks came, they brought horror, discomfort and a lot of pissing and moaning to the FPC Duluth compound: they brought new mattresses. Yes, our old mattresses varied in size, thickness, odor and levels of both stain and duct-tape over rips; but they were still mattresses.  These new things... well, were not.

Crinkly, aqua-teal, plasticized batting replaced mattresses at FPC Duluth.

On that last Wednesday of September, about three weeks after I'd arrived in Duluth, everyone in E-dorm was told to remain in the unit and not report to work until we were told to. Around 7:30 a.m., a couple of slow-moving, overloaded trucks pulled up to the back of the building. A voice on the intercom told us to strip our beds and carry our mattresses to down to the trucks, where we could swap them for a new one.

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As much as I would miss my old mattress, I did not particularly titter with glee at the prospect of carrying it down two flights of stairs, its besmirched fabric pressed against my skin and face, years of inmate skin dust clouding around my head. But I did.

When I got down to the back of the dorm, I tossed my mattress on a pile, coughed out a cloud of bed dust and was handed a six-foot long, greenish-blue vinyl bag of heavy recycled rags. Wrapped in dusty plastic. It was really heavy. And it was my new mattress. So I hauled it back upstairs to my my room, managed to lever it onto my upper rack and re-make it to FPC Duluth standards -- two sheets, square corners, one blanket on the bed, the other folded into thirds at the foot of the bed.

The entire exercise took about an hour. I was dusty and tired. I waited for count to clear -- which means that somebody says that we're all still there and are free to roam the compound -- then hopped in the shower and got cleaned up. I finished up my work detail for the morning, just wiping down the bathroom, went to lunch and came back to the dorm to read until it was time to start my afternoon routine.

As I was sitting in my chair, reading, my name was called over the intercom. I was told to report to the counselor's office in Dorm 209. When I got there, the counselor informed me that I would be moving dorms and to go get my stuff packed and hauled over before the 4:00 p.m. count. "And hey," he called after me, "Don't forget to strip your bunk and bring your bedding with you!"