The Smiling Inmate

I observed the older female inmate who happened to be the cellmate of the other crying, younger inmate that my co-worker was assessing. She had a weird smile on her face as if she was having fun to hear what was going on, after the unit deputy called the Infirmary regarding the crying inmate who just slipped on the floor.

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“There was a puddle of water and I slipped,” she complained, pointing to her right hip that landed first but no one witnessed except the cellmate who remained quiet but just smiling the entire time. The deputy glanced at me and as if her eyes were talking, thought her complained was out of the norm as there was no visible water on the floor. Except…

I started looking down all over and under the bottom bunk of the 2-tiered beds. On the farther right side below it by its metal legs, I saw a rolled-up blanket that seemed to have been used to dry up the floor and next to it was a visibly, noticeable remaining amount that was still not completely dried up.

The other nurse started taking blood pressure on the moaning inmate. The deputy was a little surprised that I went up a little closer to the other inmate and asked her some questions.

“Did you see her fall?”

She just smiled.

“Was the floor wet earlier before we came?”

She smiled then replied, “Oh yeah! There were rats coming from this (as she pointed to the wall that did not have any holes or any vents) so I started pouring water to drown them.” A light just turned on as the deputy and the other nurse started listening to our conversation. I grabbed her ID clipped on her left, upper pocket of her orange shirt and wrote down her own booking number so I could check if she was already being seen by our Mental Health Services.

“Did you have any history of a mental health problem?” I added.

As if with a proud tone of voice, she hollered, “Yeah…I’m bipolar!”

There were no obvious signs of physical injuries sustained on the other inmate who fell. Looking afraid and sort of relieved that we discovered her cellmate’s unusual behavior, she started complaining, “I knew there was something wrong with her.”

I motioned for the deputy and the other nurse to step out of the tiny cell and recommended to the deputy that no other inmate be housed together with the smiling inmate. We asked if the inmate who fell could be moved to another cell, for her safety and peace of mind. Fortunately, the cell next door was empty and the resident on the bottom bunk was a pregnant inmate. We helped the hurt inmate gathered her belongings on the top bunk and she immediately was transferred to the other cell.

As my co-worker and I had gone back to the Infirmary, we looked at the smiling inmate’s charge and not surprised at all to see that she was jailed for “faking an emergency.” She was already being given Psychiatric medications. We advised the unit and we were all relieved that no other harmful injuries were caused by her.

This world we live in is like a big prison, full of people with different colors, beliefs, cultures, speaking different languages and because of our differences, we cannot predict someone’s behavior will always agree with what we believe in. Lots of people around us are hurting and no matter how much their values and opinions differ from us, we are all the same when it comes to feeling loved and accepted and be respected.

Next time a heart-broken person comes along, remember that he or she is the same…Wanting to be loved…Wanting to be respected…Wanting  to be sympathized with…Wanting to be respected and sometimes, comforted…

"So once again, I, the LORD All-Powerful, tell you, "See that justice is done and be kind and merciful to one another!" - Zechariah 7:8-9 (CEV)
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