TUESDAY: Mouse Racing & Social Distancing

img_3174By now, everyone reading this is suffering from the same thing we prisoners are: boredom. Stuck at home with nowhere to go. Everyday I watch stories on television about how people out there are managing their boredom and self-imposed isolations. Some have rediscovered the love of their pets; walking the dog has suddenly become a favorite pasttime. I’ve taken to watching internet videos on television of animals doing the funniest things. Who can tire of seeing puppies and kittens?

Friends and family appear to be spending more and more time outside. The kids have disengaged from (or at least, supplemented) their digital social tethers and discovered that long lost world called The Great Outdoors. Ah, so that’s what it took–a little ol’ global pandemic to move today’s digital generation. Who says there’s no hope for the future?

I can’t help but think of what I would be doing if I were out there with no job to go to, stuck at home like everyone else. Hell, the way I see it, I’d get into my car and take daily sightseeing drives. What? Why not? You’d be about as socially distanced as you could be, sealed in your own metal container, protected from the world and the world from you. Think about it. Plus, has everyone not noticed that gas is damn near *free* right now?

Now that our dayrooms have been filled with rows of bunks and convicts with absolutely nothing to do, guys around here have begun to get creative with breaking their boredom. We can’t socialize at the tables anymore (hell, they yanked all of them out!), and the remaining rooms where we could they’ve locked, boarded, and chained shut with ominous signs warning off-limits for social distancing reasons. So, it’s either sit on your bunk or roam around aimlessly with the hundreds of other guys who are roaming around aimlessly inside all day.

I knew it would only be a matter of time before convicts found ways to occupy themselves. Mind you, this isn’t necessarily a good thing either. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, convicts need to exercise and blow off steam. Think of them like that one dog we’ve all heard about or seen on television, stuck at home all day, unable to get outside. The owner comes home to discover that the dog has assaulted every couch cushion, scattered the trash, destroyed every free standing item within eye distance. Why? Because convicts, like dogs, need exercise. Think of them like batteries that charge in their down time. If you don’t let them outside to draw down that energy they go bonkers.

So I wasn’t the least bit surprised when I came around the corner into the dorm and saw cons doing pull ups from the bunks, inverted push ups against the walls, sprints up and down the dorm aisle, and push ups with guys sitting on one another’s backs. As I weaved my way inbetween exercising masses, I passed bunks with shadow boxing men, guys jumping rope (without the ropes), or otherwise engaged in excessive movement.

I turned onto the next aisle and stopped short at the sight. The aisle had been cleared, and guys had created an alley with books, locker boxes, and just about anything within reach. In the middle of this were two tan mice, no doubt running for their lives, down the makeshift canyon. Someone had drawn what looked to be a black racing stripe down the back of one of them.

Jeez, I thought. What next?

I watched for a bit, how long I couldn’t tell you, but long enough to see stripe racer win 3 out of 5 races. Normally I’d expect to see guys gambling over something like this, but today it appeared as if they were stressing out these mice for lack of something better to do. I wondered if they would let them go or if they would end up in a homemade coliseum until tomorrow.
At some point we were allowed to go outside to the small paved basketball court in front of the housing unit. Fresh air? Hell, I’m all over that.

Thankfully it was clear, warm, and sunny. I then spent the next hour outside walking wide berths around the court and around everyone else. There was something about the fresh air that felt rejuvenating.

Eventually I had to come back in and the courts were closed to our usage. I sat and typed several emails, worked on this post, roamed, slept, ate, repeated.

Later in the evening word began to circulate that another staffer had come down with COVID-19 and more guys were quarantined. Our lockdown would be extended for at least another 14 days. Ugh.

Mail call came at 10:30PM, and thakfully I received a couple of letters. This meant that I had something to do for the rest of the evening. So I wrote. I rested. I typed. I stared.

Eventually my eye lids grew heavy and I decided to call it a day. Then it’s up at 8:30 AM to have our temperatures checked, and I’ll go back to bed until who knows when. Noon? Two O’Clock?

Don’t know, don’t care. At least I’ll have something to do.


*If anything, this pandemic has taught all of us that it’s a small world and that in the end the only thing that matters is one another. If you enjoyed this post, pay it forward by sharing with others.

—Christopher—

3 thoughts on “TUESDAY: Mouse Racing & Social Distancing

  1. KC

    Chris, you are correct in that it has taken a pandemic to hold those of us who have been free to come and go as we please to realize the true pleasures of life. Quiet times to read, time to sit on the deck and enjoy the sounds of nature, taking time to talk to our spouse in a relaxed fashion and just be grateful that we are alive. I liken the guys who made the makeshift mouse racetrack with kids who have been glued to their electronics when they come home from school and do nothing else. Now they are tired of being held prisoner in their homes and are getting outside and are finally using their imagination while forgetting about the troubles of a pandemic that most don’t understand. My guess is that if those same guys in your facility have lost what little social structure that you have via rooms/tables/places to congregate are using their racing mice as a game to keep them occupied and their minds off the looming possibility that you are all sitting in a petri dish. We all find ways to escape the reality going on around us.

    Stay safe and healthy!

  2. The story about mouse racing, made me laugh all the way to the garage to retrieve two mouse traps. Got those little guys who have been visiting our kitchen every night for the past two weeks! Can’t use them for racing — because they are now on their way to mouse heaven.

  3. Pingback: WEDNESDAY: La Isla Bonita – Letters from Christopher

Leave a Reply