The Misadventures of a Dysfunctional Family
By SJ White
The August sunshine blaring through the Edward A. Garmatz federal building’s windows across from the bullpen where I sit has me squinting my eyes. The beautiful day and the conversation and laughter I hear from the streets below remind me of the freedom I’ve lost. So precious. I’m waiting for transportation to who knows where? Time spent in two counties and one city jail taught me a few valuable lessons I’ll be taking with me. I know to protect those fifty-four days a year good time the feds hand out for behaving yourself. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. It adds up over the years. I’ve got some choices to make. I can spend the next years bitching, moaning, and complaining, or I can hold myself accountable for the mess I’ve gotten myself in and find a way to make the most of a bad situation. Otherwise, it will all be one big waste of time, and at my age, there is no time for wasting time.
Leaving on a Jet Plane:
Two U.S. Marshals enter the bullpen, cuff my hands to a chain around my waist, and shackle my ankles a foot apart. The freight elevator takes us to the basement garage where they put me in a caged cargo van with six other inmates. The courthouse garage’s darkness to the blazing light of day blinds you when the van first pulls onto the street—summer in the city plays like a movie you can see and feel but not touch. Six Federal Marshall’s accompany us on our trip; two in the front seat, two in a car behind, and two in a vehicle in front. We travel down I-83 North, where we merge onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike toward Philly. I won’t be doing time in Maryland. There go the visits—next exit I-283 toward Harrisburg, P. A. When we pull onto the Harrisburg International Airport runway, there is no time for me to change my flight plans. I’ve got one thought on my mind. What the hell did I get myself into?
Spring is the time of year when all the things you miss are back. Sunshine, warm weather, flowers, green grass, to name just a few. A new beginning. Too bad, Clara and Buzz are not here to see this day. My son is driving me home this morning. As we leave the parking lot, I take one last look at where I had spent the last eight years of my life.What I did to put myself in that situation has got to go down as one of the stupidest things any one person ever did. Then again, I come by it naturally. My so-called family made a habit out of doing stupid things. The fact is, I’m one of them. The Misadventures of a Dysfunctional Family is their story as well as mine. What happens between those two sunshiny days I just described is part of that story.
There is never a dull moment in the lives of this group of misfits, and it’s all true.