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The Bob Gurtler Column

In prison, you have a lot of time to think...Bob Gurtler, a former inmate of Riker's Island Prison in New York, and then transferred to a downstate correctional facitility sent us his thoughts...




Hey dogs!!

Been in this prison almost two months now. First in reception, then in a "kitchen work dorm", now I'm in the "Cadre". I just completed my orientation period. I had been given a temporary porter's job. Which was just walkin' around in a concrete courtyard sweeping up cigarette butts all day. It's got to where I was sweeping up the sunshine. Very clean courtyard now! Then yesterday the warden for this part of the prison called us 'new' guys into a classroom. He proceeded to read us the riot act. He told us how lucky we were to be in this prison and how good it is compared to the other prisons. That we have the best library and gymnasium facilities available. I took his word for all this as all I have to compare it to is Rikers Island (which is really a jail). When he told us that if we misbehave we would be shipped to a 'not so nice prison', I really started to listen. O, yes I heard every word he said. Over the past year I have come to realize the seriousness of my predicament. Forty years old, bald with glasses, unemployed and broke.

A real train wreck!

And before I got arrested, a nihilistic existentialist on my way to perdition. And a heroin addict to boot.

Wow! Things have sure been improving lately. Oh yeah! When I should have been depressed, I was happy. And vice versa.

Anyhow, I'm starting to feel a bit better now thank you. All I gotta do is talk to some of the guys in here for a few minutes. Better yet, I just listen: getting good at that,

Did I mention my former cellmate? He was a bench pressing 490lbs and gave himself a hernia! A big guy with 'No Mercy' tattooed across his back! He punched a guy in the face and shattered the guy's cheek bones. So they put him on keep lock for 30 days. Keep lock means you canít leave your cell. They bring meals to you three times a day. That was my cellmate.

They took him away when his 30 days were up, the other day. Now I've got the cell to myself for a while (till the next cellmate arrives). I took all the body building posters down and put up a pin up girl. Miss March! She cheers the place up. I also put in a request to paint the cell. I got on my hands and knees with a scrub pad and got a blister. And I made that stainless steel sink/toilet combination camode shine like a fucking mirror! Lined the shelves in my locker with newspaper and washed every bit of laundry I got! Yeah a white tornado.

Even the mirror is shining like a mirror!

Maximum security prison! And what will I do tomorrow...

Wait! Wait for those cards and letters that are too few and far between!

That are too few and far between!

Wait! Wait to be forgotten by all my many so-called friends.

Wait! wait, for the next visit from my poor folks who have to travel hundreds of miles to see my sorry ass for just a few precious hours.

Wait! wait, for the library to open! So I can get another book.

I have been averaging a book a day. Sometimes two days. A Brainiac!

And that's good because I've always been a reader. Sometimes when I get into a good book, it's almost as if I'm not even in prison. I forget...

Forgive me for whining like a bitch! Just venting a little.

Actually things ain't that bad. I'm in probably the best shape physically I've ever been. And my mind is quite clear...

Lots of time to reflect and self-analyse. I'll be out of here in under a year. Then I can go about rebuilding my life. Back on track. Never too late. I must remember that.

Well I was looking through the paper the other day. FOUR suicides on Rikers Island this year.

So much to live for...

Cheer up!!

If you would like to correspond I will answer any and all mail, letters, postcards etc

As I don't have a computer, that's how I gotta do it!

[Bobby passed away on sept 22 2006]


Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other

Robert Gurtler

Check out Bob's other columns

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