Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas with my brother.

Or the time I hopped aboard a prison bus.

Ok so let me tell you some back story about this bus. My brother was recently moved to a really, really large facility. I think it is the biggest in Virginia, but I am not really sure. But it’s basically like 3 prisons in 1. It has several different buildings and each building has it’s own visiting room. But there is 1 main building that visitors go through the security for (I know where TSA is getting their pat down lessons from!) So to be nice to us visitors they have a bus that takes you from one building to the next (it’s also for the employees and volunteers too) because this place is HUGE and walking would take forever. It is something we have never experienced at any one of the facilities before because none of them are like this.

My parents went to see my brother right after he got transferred to this place. And, like I said, we’ve never experienced this before so my poor mother had no idea what she was getting herself in to. She didn't know to expect this. And my mom doesn't ask many questions when she's there and instead she just kind of tries to figure it out on her own. So they went through the normal check in, security check, and getting passes and then they went outside. Which is normal. Usually it's a walk way that's surrounded by fencing and barbed wire. But at the end of this short walk there was a bus. My mother was VERY concerned about this bus. And mostly she wondered how it would know to come back and pick her up when she was ready to leave. Apparently they talked about it a lot during their visit because when I talked to my brother after their visit he told me all about it and we laughed about it. After I stopped freaking out a little bit about how I was going to eventually get on a prison bus. Which my brother also found funny. I figured these bus' were different than the one's he used. And I was fairly certain there would be no actual prisoners on our bus. But I still wasn't so sure about this. So I called my parents and mom filled me in about how they have bus stops at each of the gate entrances and it wasn't bad but it wasn't great. I still reserved judgment for later.

So we packed up and headed to see George for Christmas. My mom, dad, and myself. So the 4 of us could have some time as a family for Christmas. That's really hard for me. And it puts me in a funk. I really, really hate to leave him. Especially at Christmas. And I really, really hate that he doesn't actually get to see anyone ON Christmas. Well, he could but we're really far away to actually make that happen. So we go right around Christmas. Usually the even Saturday before Christmas. He loves these visits and so do I. I love just sitting around with him chatting like we're not sitting in a room full of inmates and their families. We make fun of my mom and her whispers. Because that's how she talks. So no one can hear her. Not even us. And we make fun because it is so loud and everyone else is wrapped up in their own visits that they aren't listening to us anyway.

So I'm new to this place and I follow their lead. We check in. Then wait for them to call us back to be patted down. Then we get our passes and head through the security check metal detectors. Where we get our hand stamps. THESE are very important. To my mom. And she makes them show her she actually got stamped under the black light cause that's how they show up. And she usually always says something about how she wants to be sure she will be let out if anything happens. The guards laugh, and I wonder how many times they hear that. Then we head outside through the gated walkway to the end of the fence where the bus picks us up.

It's an old school bus. Not like the prison bus' that you see in the movies. Which I halfway expected to be honest. But it's a regular old school bus - well, the short kind, but still a school bus. It's got heat which was nice cause it was cold. There were only a few of us that got on at that point. The driver was nice and asked us all which building we were going to. It didn't take long via bus, but it would have been a long, cold walk. We actually saw my brother walking from his building to his visiting building. We made our way inside to the visiting room and waited a few minutes for George to come out to see us.

We had a really nice visit. It wasn't very long - about 2 1/2 hours. That was kind of disappointing, but I halfway expected it to be busy and for our visit to be short. We got really spoiled at some of the places he's been by getting really long visits. The last couple places the visits have been much shorter, but it is what it is I suppose. We're more than half way to the end. It's totally in sight. And in 9 days I can officially say my brother comes home next year. I think you guys will be sick of me saying that long before the time I can say my brother comes home this year ;)

Anyway, that's my story of the prison bus. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't something more funny to share on the blog but in reality I'm glad it went as smooth as it did haha.

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