I knew who Hash was, as regards to being a sergeant, although I never had the opportunity or desire to speak to him before myself.I did respect the way he carried himself around the facility, complete with his good looks and boyish appearance; he was about five-foot-eight, one hundred and sixty pounds, and had blondish-brown hair, to go along with his rugged, chiseled physique.
But I still had to keep in mind the fact that he wore gray, while I was dressed in state greens, and there was no reason for our getting together at this point in time for social, or any other, reasons.
“Do you know why I sent for you tonight, Goldstein?”’ asked Hash.
“Not exactly,” I responded. “But I guess that it has something to do with what’s been taking place in the mess hall.”
“That’s right, it does,” he admitted. “Since you are in L Dorm, I don’t see much of you because that side of the prison is supervised by Sergeant Ortiz, while I handle this side, which includes my two mess halls.”
By now, Hash’s tone of voice had changed, and I no longer felt like an invited guest on his couch.
“How long have you been here at Oneida?” he asked, as if he couldn’t simply find out himself, or actually didn’t already know.
“Eight and a half months now,” I replied.
“Well, you know that you have become very popular around here lately,” Hash revealed in a coy voice. “And in prison, that is a bad thing.”
Knowing full well that Hash was alluding to the problems I was having with Food Service Administrator Colleen Kelly, Civilian Cook Jeff Dickson, and the rest of the people in the mess hall, I decided to eliminate the small talk and cut right to the chase.
“Sergeant Hash, there are two things I am entitled to as a prisoner, which are meals and access to religious services,” I boldly stated. “Everything else, I don’t care too much about, and will usually turn the other cheek when I don’t get it, even though I am supposed to. But with meals and services, I draw the line and put up a stand when I am constantly being screwed.”
“Have you ever been upstate before, or is this your first bid?” he asked next, which was another question I was sure he already had the answer to.
“This is my first, last, and ONLY time, and you and everyone else around here will NEVER see me again,” I replied, in my usual standard response to an often asked inquiry.
“I am glad to hear that,” Hash admitted, “but to tell you the truth, Goldstein, I don’t give a damn about you personally either way. To me, you’re just one of eleven hundred inmates here. But when your name keeps popping up all the time, as it has been, and I have to step in to investigate, then I must give up some of my free time, and that upsets me very much.”
“Please, Sergeant, don’t talk down to me,” I pleaded. “I may have made the biggest mistake of my life by doing what I did to get arrested, but I’m not a stupid person, and I am definitely not like everyone else around here.”
“I have your personal file right here in front of me,” Hash said, as he browsed through it on his desk and obviously did know the answers already to his earlier questions of me. “And I see that you were sentenced to seven years flat for robbery in the second degree, and also have a college education. But to survive in prison, you also have to be have street smarts.”
“I do, Sergeant,” I replied. “Trust me, I’m from Brooklyn, and I know how to handle myself.”
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