I woke up at 6:00 AM every morning. I slept with earplug in my ears with the radio on all night. It drowned out the snoring and bodily noises emitting from the 20 or so men sleeping side by side in steel bunk beds.
I woke up to a radio show called, “JM in the AM with Nachum Segal.” I knew it was six in the morning because Segal played the same opening song every morning at 6 AM.
I went to the kitchen to pick up my breakfast. Breakfast consisted of a banana, a box of cold cereal, and a small carton of milk. If the guard wasn’t looking, and you were friendly with the inmate who was handing out the breakfast, you could get an extra banana, or an extra box of cereal.
I went to a class by Rabbi Pinter and then prayer services at 7 AM. Pinter wrote a book called, “Don’t Give Up.” When you are stuck in jail for 5 years like Pinter was, you can’t give up. If you give up in jail you turn into a human vegetable and end up locked up in solitary confinement. Or the officers pump you up with drugs to keep you quiet.
In order to survive you need to have a routine that will keep your mind occupied. It takes several months to realize that you need some kind of routine. Some guys never get into a routine. These guys end up sleeping all day, and take prison meds to keep them sedated. If someone breaks your routine, like takes the seat that you sit on every day at noon, things can get ugly.
I got into a routine. I got up at 6 AM. I got my breakfast. I didn’t need to get my daily breakfast ration because I worked in the kitchen. But I picked up my ration anyway because I could barter it for something else that I wanted. After prayer services, at 8 AM, I changed from my prison sweats into my prison greens, ie., my green uniform. The rule is that you are supposed to wear your greens by 7 AM. I didn’t care that I broke this rule. I never got busted and it gave me street cred. Nobody was going to tell me what to do. If you appear weak in prison guys will walk all over you.
I then walked over to the kitchen to start my job as the dishwasher. As I walked over to my job guys would approach me and ask me if I could pick up a tomato or a cucumber for them. My response was always the same. I said that if I gave out a tomato to everyone who asked for a tomato there would be no tomatoes to give out.
When I got to the kitchen I was accosted by Head Blueboy Officer Scalboni. He immediately started yelling at me: “YOU DRESSLER, I FOUND VEGETABLES IN YOUR CUBE, YOU WORK FOR FOOD SERVICES.” At this point in time I only had a couple of months before I was released from this hellhole. Getting yelled at by a blueboy didn’t bother me anymore.
I shrugged my shoulders and said to Scalboni, “I don’t have vegetables in my cube, I have fruit in my cube, not vegetables.” I then said, “I was framed, someone put those vegetables in my cube in order to set me up.” The new blueboy who ran the kitchen looked at me as if I was a career criminal. How could he have a criminal working in his sacred kitchen?
The head cook in the kitchen, inmate Stephen Shea, tried to get me in worse trouble. He said, “YOU IDIOT DRESSLER WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE CARROTS, WE HAVEN’T HAD A SHIPMENT OF CARROTS IN DAYS, YOU MUST BE HOARDING FOOD, YOU ARE GOING TO GET US ALL PINCHED YOU IDIOT, YOU ARE GOING TO GET US ALL IN TROUBLE!”
Stephen Shea was featured with business partner Ross Mandell on American Greed, for their $140 million Sky Capital stock scam. Their company focused on cold calling investors in England. They found the English to be more gullible than Americans. They wrote off trips to strip bars as business expenses.
I went back to my cubicle and found that it was already raided by Officer Scalboni. Scalboni had taken a carrot that I had hidden under my mattress and broke it up into three or four pieces and threw it all over the floor and in my bunk. He also ripped apart my bunk and kicked over my garbage can. I picked up a piece of the carrot and cleaned it off. It was still good. My bunkie threw away my other vegetables that were on the floor. I admonished him. I said, “Jack, what the hell did you that for, I could have washed the food off.” Fortunately, Scalboni missed a few items that I had hidden in my coat.
I went back to my prison routine. I worked til one. Lunch. Back to work. Afternoon prayers. Off from work. Jog. Dinner. Email room. Phone calls. Reading. TV. Bed.