I went to visit my friend in prison again. He’s bored as hell.
When I mentioned that I was writing a whacked-out advice column, he begged me to let him read it. He suggested I print it out and send it to him like a letter. I thought that was a damn fine idea.
As it was my first time writing to someone in the slammer, I decided to check the manual. Every correctional institution in California has it’s own fancy-pants website, wherein you’ll find a comprehensive list of do’s, don’ts, and other little known jailhouse etiquettes to observe when sending a friendly letter.
I was rather disheartened to learn that “letters and envelopes must be free from any white-out, lipstick marks, address labels, or stickers of any kind. No large cards, musical cards, cards with glitter or other items attached will be allowed.”
As tempting as it was, I resisted the urge to leave him a lipstick mark in white-out and glitter.
Instead, I printed out Dear Coke Talk. Every last entry.
I followed the rules to the letter. Plain white paper. No paper clips or staples. No pictures or photocopies of pictures. It was a sixty page stack of dense black-and-white text that looked as boring as an insurance policy.
I slapped some stamps on that sucker and sent it off to the big house.
That was two weeks ago.
Guess what came back in the mail today? Yep. Return to motherfucking sender. At first, I thought I’d screwed up the address or something, but then I realized it had been opened.
Sure enough, there was a big red sticker on the front of the envelope with three check boxes. The first was labeled “Not in Custody,” the second was labeled “Need Inmate Number,” and the third was labeled “Unacceptable Items.”
Someone had checked the “Unacceptable Items” box.
Then, just to go the extra mile, they did something that made me very, very proud. Right there next to the checkbox, some corrections officer went out of his way to scribble out two additional words: