From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
LIFE IN PRISON, PART FIVE
Here’s another sure-fire path back to prison, and it’s as innocent as they come. You're on parole; you’ve got a job and a place to live [translation: you’re WAY ahead of the game!]. You just got off work and you're walking home in the pouring rain. You're really tired after 8 hours of grueling work. It’s particularly grueling because, frankly, you're not used to work since all you do in prison is stand around all day watching your fingernails grow. But then, you hardly ever had the habit to begin with. Anyway, your car either doesn't work or does’t exist, so you're walking to your apartment through the pouring rain. It’s a 17-block hike, and you can feel the water squish as you wiggle your toes in your soggy runners. You're as miserable as a wet cat when a car slows down next to you and you hear, "Hey Bill, how long you been out? You wanna ride?" It’s your best friend, or at least the one you’ve known since you were both in diapers. Incidentally, he’s also the one who’s responsible for you going to prison in the first place. But you’re not thinking of what a palpitating disaster he is, not with all that rain. "Couple weeks,” you say, “and sure - it's wet out here." So you get in - and four blocks later a cop pulls you over for a broken tail light and during the course of that little encounter he finds a gun in the trunk. You just violated one of the conditions of your parole, so back you go. The way you read that experience to yourself is all about self-pity: The System nailed you for taking a ride on a rainy day from a friend. What DOESN'T occur to you is that you're running with the wrong "friends." In many ways you started out right, and with the best of intentions. But although you got a job and had a place to live and were ‘going straight,’ you were only tinkering around the edges. What you need to do is get rid of those loser friends. After all, they're the reason you got into trouble in the first place. If truth be told, they're like a rattlesnake that likes to get warm inside your sleeping bag. You're dimly aware that that's a bad idea so you decide you'll rectify the situation by changing the color of your sleeping bag!