After Felonious runs off, I put the pear and a pack of graham crackers in the newspaper that John has slipped me. The date on it is from a few months ago…. Why? Either way, I am following his advice and I am learning how this game works. I go to the disgusting orderly and ask if I could have another 4 oz. juice or water. He gives me two. Thank you Jesus. I put my new stash in the newspaper and sit my towel on top so that no one will see or guess that something is in there.
I go to return my tray to the tray cart and out of nowhere ( I have no idea where these random people are coming from), here comes Marlon. Marlon quickly tells me that it is his job to put up the trays and wipe down the tables after we eat. He is a patient, but now I am wondering if it is a work program in here so that I can get out on good behavior. I thank Marlon for cleaning up after me. He nods and in his Caribbean accent, tells me “no worries”. My name is yelled over the crowd by this astute lady with glasses on. She has been assigned to my case. I have no idea what the hell is going on.
In the social worker’s room, there are 5 social workers. All of them look exhausted. All of them look as though they hate their job. Most importantly, they have five desks that give you absolutely no privacy, they are crammed together, and then there is one computer. One Computer! So the social workers are having to use their own “paperwork” to do “their job” and then they can input the information into the computer once it is free to use. I never learn the name of the social worker that I was assigned.
So what happens once you get a social worker in the “Doom Room”? You are official!!! Meaning, once they have entered your information into that one computer, your title as “Ward Of The State” is official. No turning back now, you have made it to the big league. Astute asks me to have a seat. She pulls out this one hundred question questionnaire and is ready to start her dissecting.
Astute: What brings you to the Psych Ward?
Me: The man downstairs with the clip board. (Another social worker finds that funny and he laughs)
Astute: Are you single, married, divorced or widowed?
Me: I am married. (Astute looks me up and down like “yeah right”)
Astute: Highest level of education?
Me: MBA- Graduate
This makes her look up. She looks at me again and repeats the question. I repeat the answer. I have no idea what she wrote on that piece of paper. I am sure she did not believe me. Now granted, I could have used a brush to go through my hair, but I didn’t look like I didn’t have it together. It is not that I thought that I was better than anyone in there. I was as clear minded and calm. God knows, that my mind wasn’t thinking this way. I am still trying to figure out if Chico has gotten to my doctor and they are just downstairs getting everything straight. Astute continues on with her questions. I swear she had about 100 of them. I mean literally. This one caught me off guard.
Astute: Are you sexually active?
Me: I am married
Astute writes down something on her paper as if she is annoyed with me.
Astute: What type of intercourse do you normally have?
Me: I am married.
Astute looks up at me again and my facial expression of “this is none of your damn business” is making her think twice about asking me something else foolish. There is another social worker in the room. He is a middle- aged black man. I hear him on his cell phone with his wife. They are going back and forth about their taxes and who is going to claim what. He keeps telling her that he needs this and that deduction because of a child support lien. Duly noted. I face Astute again and ask her if I can call my husband. She tells me that the phones should be on, but I only have three minutes to talk. I am up and out before she can finish that statement.
I get to the phones on the wall and of course there are two people on the phone and three other people waiting for that desperate three minutes to the outside world. I stand in line only to see Felonious giving somebody hell on the phone. The other phone is being held up by this burly white guy. He has on glasses and it appears to me that he shouldn’t be in here either. I learn that his name is Aaron. Aaron appears to come from some family money. He has been speaking to a lawyer on his phone and because it is a legal call, he doesn’t have a time limit. So while I am waiting for my turn, I just tune in to his conversation. He has a crayon and a piece of paper. He is steady taking notes. What really got my attention is that Aaron repeats something that his lawyer is telling him. He says, “So let me get this straight, I can have a legal transfer from this facility to another one in Georgia?”. Even I am waiting to hear what the answer to that question is. Aaron continues and says, “So when and how does this happen? Ok, I will wait for the paper work to sign”. He hangs up the phone and looks pleased with the information that he has just received. I am trying to see if I can hit redial on this prehistoric phone to call his lawyer back and ask him for the same thing.
I finally get my turn to talk on the phone. I call Chico hoping that he recognizes the number and will answer the phone. He answers on the first ring and he knows that it is me. Even though we weren’t together face to face, you would have never known it. We were both relieved to hear each other’s voices. I tell him that I only have three minutes. He tells me what my doctor had said in order to get me out. He says that he thinks I am going to need a lawyer. I tell him that my father has an A-Team on stand-by all the time. He and my father can work on getting me out of here. I asked him how long do you think I will be in here and I hear the defeat in his voice, he says, “I don’t know”. He wants me know that he is doing everything possible to figure a way out of this for me. Our time is up and we are trying to say more before the phone cuts off. As I walk away, I feel extremely hopeless and my “bad bitch” mindset is out the window. I miss my Chic. I miss my Baylor. I want a shower in my house. I want something to eat. I want to go home. But how?
I go back to the jungle gym and I find that John is sitting in his usual spot. I sit next to him. He offers me a newspaper and I take it. I know I will need it for the next meal. I tell him that I just got off the phone with my husband. He can tell that I am almost breakable at this point. He tells me that the best way to keep going is to keep doing. He offers me access to his personal library of mystery novels. I take a John Gresham novel and I start to read with him. And in great ole “Doom Room” fashion, Deborah comes in and yells “Group!”.
Group in the “Doom Room” can be a variety of things. It could be arts and crafts, alcoholic anonymous (even if you don’t drink), narcotic anonymous (which I wish I had access to at that very moment), spiritual talk, and Bake Act Law Group, my favorite. Everyone is sitting in a circle. Eric was the guy that threw the cot against the wall last night, is sitting there shaking his leg. Please don’t throw a chair or a person near me. Deborah starts Group with making sure that all of us sees her jewelry. Shaking my head. She then proceeds to read what the Baker Act is and what our rights under the Baker Act are. Eric gets mad, just like I thought, and yells that this is complete bullshit! Again, as much as Eric and I were different, he was actually doing and saying what I wanted to say too. Deborah asks him if he would like to leave Group. He does and sits at one of the prison tables. The rest of the Group looks like this is some bullshit. I find out later that they have Baker Act Group twice a day, everyday. Just in case you were “on one” the day before and you were not able to attend group, they repeat it over and over. I am assuming that this is why everyone is looking at her like she is crazy. After I get the run down on what the Baker Act is I decide to ask a question.
Me: So if you are involuntarily Baker Acted, when will I be able to leave this facility?
Deborah: Well you will need to see a social worker (did that), then the facility’s Psychiatrist (where the hell are they?). If both of those persons agree that you are fit to be released, then you can apply for a petition of release. (ok, that doesn’t sound so bad).
Me: So roughly how long does this process take on average if a patient is ok?
This is when she hits me in the head.
Deborah: Well that depends on when they assign your Baker Act Court Date. That can take months.
Me: Hold up, let me get this straight. If I am deemed fit to enter back into society, I will not be released until I can get a date on the court docket?
Deborah: Yes ma’am
I panic. I really panic. I can’t breathe. I leave group and I go to my cot. This is a nightmare. I need Chico and I need him now. I see the black social worker walking by. I stop him. “I will do your taxes and get you a nice refund if you let me use your phone”. Deal….
Chico pick up, cause I need you to know its me.
Stay tuned… We still have so much more to cover.