I like to think of myself as a people person. Socializing has always been second nature to me, no matter where I am. You could drop me into a room full of strangers, and we’d all be thick as thieves by the end of the night. Heck, I’d probably even do well in prison, just because I tend to get along with everybody.
On day one, I’d waltz right up to the biggest guy in the yard and say, “Hey! Where did you get that jumpsuit?” I won’t be as tough as most prisoners, but I’m not gonna be afraid to razz ’em with a joke.
Ultimately, everyone just wants to make friends, form memories, and have a great time. We’re stuck with each other, so why not have a laugh? I’d hop into the communal shower and make a big beard of soap. I might even splash around if we were really having a blast.
I guess I’d approach it like an adult summer camp. If my cellmate wanted the bottom bunk, I’d gladly climb up to the top. I don’t mind making a concession, and it’s that same breezy attitude that always wins folks over. It’ll be no different than when I was a kid at Camp Washtenaw and my bunkmate and I would stay up all night telling each other scary stories.
Look, I know jail scares a lot of people who are intimidated by the prisoners, but I’ve always been confident in my ability to find common ground. I mean, how hard could it be to talk to these guys? We’re all incarnated in the same prison, so that’s a start.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a petty thief, a mob boss, or a serial killer—we’re all just people at the end of the day.
Sure, some of these guys have done pretty bad things, but having a terrible attitude won’t change them. People respond to positivity. That’s always been my approach as a product manager, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in the clink.
I bet they could use a guy like me. Prisons are so divided—Latin Kings, Aryan Brotherhood, Vice Lords—but I bring people together. I’m the guy who sat with both the jocks and the nerds in the high school cafeteria. In prison, I’d sit everyone down and make them talk out their differences. Once they got past those initial social anxieties and jitters with an icebreaker, I’m sure everyone would be fast friends.
These guys are probably just carrying around a lot of tension. Maybe I could help teach them some breathing exercises to relax.
I’ll even make friends with the prison guards. I’ll go right up to a guard, tap his shoulder, and say, “Lookin’ good today, pal!” So what if they throw me in solidarity confinement? I can have fun all by myself.
I’m a big believer in whatever you put out there, it’ll come back to you tenfold. If this case sends me away for the rest of my life, then it’s just an opportunity to make new friends for life.
I might not be able to control what happens to me or what the jury decides, but I can control my thoughts and actions. In the end, it’s only a prison if you choose to think about it that way.