Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Context.... Who Needs it?

Today class, we will be discussing the word context and it's meaning. According to the dictionary, the word context means:

Definition of CONTEXT

1: the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning
2: the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs .

When (by the way, this is me now, and no longer the dictionary).... When you take something in context, you are getting the whole picture. You understand fully what you are seeing or hearing or otherwise experiencing.

When you take something out of context, however, it's a whole new ball game. Then, anything goes.

And when you put what you are experiencing in the context of being in a prison...... well, the whole thing just tends to get skewed all over the place.

Here's a good example of something being in context. During shift tonight we were directed to search one of the buildings. We picked out the one building that I had never been into as of yet. They call it the Mattress Factory. But they make more than mattresses in there. I wonder why they don't call it the Mattress And Other Things Factory.

Okay, never mind.

So in the Mattress Factory the inmates all have little stations that they work at. Usually in front of a big industrial sewing machine. And almost every single one of them has devised some sort of pouch or pocket sewn out of scraps and hung on the front of their station to keep pens and pencils and personal items in. We went through and searched the whole building (what we had the keys for, anyway) and one of the things we did was turn out all those little pockets to see what was in them.

For the most part, it was nothing. Like I said, pens and pencils. Little containers of instant coffee and sugar and creamer. Maybe a lighter and small bag of tobacco. No real contraband to speak of, just stuff.

Then there was this one pouch. It held a handful of notes and other things folded together. I flipped through them just to make sure they contained no escape plans or anything and my eyes fell on a note that said:

"My penis is engorged & all the blood has rushed from my head. I'm lightheaded & feel I will not be able to unload the truck."

And it was signed at the bottom with a little smiley face.

Obviously the context of this being that this inmate is a smarta** who thinks he's cute. I'd like to solve that little "engorgement" problem for him permanently. I'm positive that making the thing much much smaller will settle that problem once and for all.


Here's a couple examples of being out of context. While doing the B-yard inner perimeter check (which we do twice a night) I was walking by some open windows in one of the housing units and overheard the following statement:

"What the f**k? Yours is made of wood! Mine isn't this comfortable to sit on..."

I just had to stop dead in my tracks and ponder that one for a moment. Then I realized that he was probably talking about another inmate's footlocker. At least I'm hoping he was. But for a few seconds my mind was somewhere else completely....

And my second example took place not an hour later. Another one of those wonderful "Open mike" moments. Those are always precious. Somebody's mike clicked open and we could hear two voices. The first one said:
"What are you saying? We can put good sh*t in there?"

To which the second voice replied:
"Fu*kin' right!"

And of course, taken out of context.... Well, you draw your own conclusions. But I felt for a moment like I had picked up an old "Cheech and Chong" movie over my radio.

So you can clearly see that context is very important in understand what is happening around you. Context helps you understand your surroundings and the input you are receiving.

But it's nowhere near as fun as being out of context and letting your imagination run wild.

Class dismissed!

Oh! One more thing before you go! Tomorrow is Mule Day! Let's not make asses of ourselves out there, people!


  1. Context is an interesting thing to take out of context. I'm very much involved in that concept anyway.

  2. Just Plain Tired- It's something you slip in an out of like your favorite pair of shoes. I like that about you!