After church this Sunday, Damon and I headed down to the Criminal Detention Center to deal with some business. One of our loved ones had just been arrested for a crime committed 2 months ago. We went to bail out Our Loved One (OLO).
When we arrived, we saw what I’ve seen before: an outdoor courtyard, an inside lobby, and people waiting. Bail bondsman and bondswomen were waiting for business, for people to help. Most of their day is filled with waiting. Family members of the incarcerated were coming and going and waiting. They were coming to visit their loved one, to bail them out, or just to find out what’s going on. Ninety percent of these people were obviously poor.
When Damon and I arrived there was a particular family outside that intrigued me. It was two teenage boys, a gentleman who appeared to be their father, and a little girl in a stroller. I started playing in my mind the possibilities of who they might be there to see. I settled on the boys’ mother.
Damon was walking around, opening and closing the heavy door, trying to hide from Grandpa, saying "Hi" and "See ya" to people, and then sitting next to Grandpa on the floor for long periods of time. It finally occurred to me that he hadn’t eaten so I got some peanut butter and crackers out of the vending machine. We sat back on the floor and he systematically dismantled the cracker sandwiches and licked off the peanut butter, then ate the crackers. We were talking, fighting over the last few crackers ‘cause he didn’t want me to have any. I snuck some when he wasn’t looking.
After a while one of the boys, hearing me talk to Damon asked what his name was. “Damon,” I said.
“My name is Jamin.”
“Really!? Is that J-A-M-O-N?
Turning to the other kid I asked, “And what’s you’re name?”
“Joel,” he said. I asked the little girl her name, but the boys answered “This is Nicole.”
“Is she your sister?”
“No, she’s our niece.”
So I start revising my guess about who they are waiting for. Probably Nicole’s mother, Joel and Jamin’s sister, I thought.
We chatted about the little ones then went back to waiting and chasing. After awhile the release door opened. It had opened about every ten to fifteen minutes. This was the first time I was paying attention. A guy came out, having been released after a few hours or a few days of incarceration. When the guy came out, Joel was standing just outside the doorway. He handed the guy something. The guy looked at the something, said “Thanks!”, and kept walking. He disappeared around the corner.
I called to Joel, my new friend. “Joel. Come here a minute.” He walked over to where Damon and I were seated on the floor. “Did you just give that guy something?”
“Did you know him?”
“Then why did you give him something?”
“Cause it’s fun to give people stuff.”
“Is that why you’re down here.”
The next person out the release door was Our Loved One. Joel was standing there and handed OLO something. OLO looked at it and said, “Thanks!” When we got outside I asked OLO what was given. “Ten dollars,” OLO said, smiling.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
“For God so loved the world that he gave…”
"It’s fun to give people stuff!"
Joel, Jamin, Nicole and Dad, July 9, 2006