Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"I Lost My Face!"

My 49 Days of Grace series continues with a look at a few of the humorous moments of my 7 weeks of unfortunate incarceration in the Spring of 2007.  For more background on how I wound up in the mess I was in be sure to visit the My Journey tab located in the upper right of this blog.

"Hello, Mrs. Wiggins!"
It may be difficult to believe that in the midst of my 49 days in jail there were actually some pretty light-hearted moments- but there were! To help you understand a little more about the circumstances, I need to tell a few things about the hall I was held on. I have mentioned before I was on a high security wing for my own protection. Most of the folks I shared the hall with were there because they had serious mental issues. I fully understand that these are nothing to make fun of. However...  For the most part I could not see the other people on the wing- only when we were herded to the showers. But I could hear them. And that made for some very interesting moments. Here are a few of the characters I encountered.

  • Tim Conway - There was a little old man who kept moving in and out of the jail during my stay there. I have no idea what he was alleged to have done, and he never stayed very long. We began calling him "Tim Conway" because when he spoke he sounded like the old man character Tim used to play on The Carol Burnett Show- sort of a funny mumble. But the mumble was only part of what made him memorable. One of the first nights he was with us on the hall, we heard screaming around 3 AM. Tim was trying to get the guards attention, because he wanted to go home. They were ignoring him. So Tim raised the stakes. He began yelling at the top of his lungs, "I lost my face!!! I cannot find my face!!!" At first we were irritated at the early hour, but then it just got funny. There were lots of things that would have gotten a response from the guards, but yelling I lost my face was not one of them.. But Tim would be released, arrested again, and keep trying. A couple of weeks later we were awakened to the sound of Tim yelling, "My spleen exploded!" Another time it was "Who stole my  _ _ _ _?"  He did have a body parts theme! Under the circumstances it was pretty funny stuff.  
  • Big John - A man named John was a couple of cells down the entire time I was there.  John would go through long periods of silence. I discovered one day that Big John had been in the Ware County Jail a very long time- for psychiatric evaluation. He had threatened to blow up the county courthouse while standing in the restroom of that very building. This was not his first threat, and so John was kept heavily medicated and under constant observation. He would sleep for days at a time. And then....BLAM!  John would sing. He would sing church hymns.He would sing classic rock. He would make up his own songs, which always made him laugh hysterically. And the sound of his songs and his laughter would shake the walls. I loved those days, because they made me laugh so hard. And laughter was hard to come by. Big John was also the one who started what became a tradition one day while we were waiting for our shower time. He asked me what I was "in for" and when I told him he seemed to think I was lying to him. Our merry little band had some pretty serious felons in it, and next to their crimes my illegal computer conversation (while very bad) seemed pretty tame. After we entered the shower area John announced in a loud voice, "Stay away from Jones. He is dangerous. If you're not careful, he'll talk to you on a computer!" From that day on, someone would say it every single time we headed to the showers. In no way is that meant to downplay my very serious offense. But again, under the circumstances, we found it to be quite funny.
  • Ryan - For several weeks I shared a cell with a young man named Ryan. Ryan had many problems, including having attempted suicide on a couple of occasions and having committed multiple violent offenses. As we got to know each other, he learned of my past as a youth pastor. Up until that point, Ryan's language (like almost all of my fellow prisoners) was quite colorful. In a very foul sort of way. To his everlasting credit, after he found out I was a pastor he tried desperately not to curse when talking to me. He most often failed miserably. But it was so funny watching him try. He would curse, stumble over apologizing while cursing at himself for cursing, and then try again. In the end I got to pray with Ryan a few times, and we read the bible together every morning. By the time I got out Ryan believed Jesus was a "damn good guy..."  Baby steps...
I spent most of my 49 days and nights sad, lonely and fighting depression. I was there because I had broken the law. There shouldn't have been anything funny about jail. But God brings light into darkness in a variety of ways. And slowly but surely I was beginning to realize that it was going to be the love of God whose name is Jesus that still defined me, not my crime and my sin. Grace was real. And I needed to share it. More on that next week.

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous4/18/2012

    I lost my face? How do you even do that! :D

    1. That was our question. And I would have thought an exploding spleen would have been more painful. NOot even an OUCH! LOL

  2. Anonymous4/18/2012

    Carl, I know this was a very trying time for you, but sometimes you just have to laugh. In the words of Mr. Buffet, "If we weren't all crazy we would go insane". I feel bad laughing about your time in "the clink" but gosh that's a funny post!


    1. YEs, the theology of James Buffett is very underrated. And don't feel bad about laughing, Marie. Those memories crack me up too. :)


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