First Day At The Power House Prison Job–Federal Prison Camp Journal


Realizing My Potential and Passion

Finding your passion is sometimes hard to do. Most people don’t wake up knowing exactly they want and how they can fulfill their lives. Often people have to go through life’s ups and downs before they realize what they want to do. Others have to experience something they completely dislike before their passions are ignited. The latter is what happened to me. America’s housing crisis landed me in prison camp, but I decided I would make the best of the situation and learn as much as I could. I jumped at the opportunity to take a job in HVAC and sewage systems, however, I quickly realized that my passion was writing.

I found a job that I truly wanted and it was at a prison department called the Power House. It was located in a plaza like area where other department jobs were, such as the inventory garage, General Maintenance Six (GM6), and UNICOR, which was recently shut down. There I learned about heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. They were also in charge of the sewage system, which was called the grinding area and was about one mile from the Power House. The grinding area was also the point where the sewage system for the neighboring building, the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI), linked up. The plaza was also next to the back entrance of the FCI.

My first day there went by fast. I had breakfast and then after 6:30 am, I walked about a mile to the Power House. When I arrived, I was driven to the sewage area, and entered through the garage door on the top floor. The sewage area was divided into two floors, the upper and the lower. I put on a mask (similar to a painter’s mask) and some gloves and walked downstairs to where the actual sewer was located. On the lower level there were tunnels that carried the water down to the grinder. The grinder was connected to a massive metal tube that dumped the remains into garbage bags upstairs.

All the stuff from the toilet went down this massive tube; and by stuff I mean everything you can imagine:

  • Poop
  • Drugs
  • Weapons
  • Other contrabands
  • Bedding
  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Other general garbage

Anything that was too large for the grinder was taken out and put into a garbage bag and carried upstairs.  Meanwhile, all water sewage and waste would go to the Herlong “City” sewer system. Herlong isn’t an actual city or town, it’s a Census-designated place. Afterward, I’d clean the grinder with a huge white nozzled water hose. The nozzle was made by inmates specifically for the Grinding Station. Once the garbage was full, we tied them up and put them on a cart. We drove to a dumpster and dumped them there.

When I returned, I had to blow all the excess sand from around the main Power House building with a leaf blower. There was a mini sandstorm that night, so to stay busy, I had to clean it. As the sand hardened, I had to use a shovel instead of the leaf blower. I couldn’t shovel alone, so the other inmates helped out. They were upset because I was working too hard. I personally didn’t mind. It was better than them getting mad at me for being lazy.

After lunch, I learned a little about the boilers, how to read gauges, and how to take water samples. They also showed me where all the tools and supplies were located. That day flew by and I was glad. I was also glad to work there. I thought this would help me create better opportunities for future jobs.

However, I quickly learned that was a mistake. As I began to write in my journal and the pages of my first novel, I realized HVAC wasn’t what I wanted to do. In about five months, I realized that I was putting too much time and energy into working and studying HVAC. I started to hate it and my job at the Power House. It wasn’t because of money or drama, but once I found my passion, nothing else seemed important. I wanted to blog, write novels and poetry. I wanted to find ways to make money from my writing skills. I desired to create businesses and see them become successful. I no longer wanted to spend time working at a place I hated; nor did I want to give my time to something I wasn’t completely enjoying.

I definitely don’t regret working at the Power House. As you’ll see in future blog posts, the Power House was a great experience, a needed experience. It helped me to see what I truly wanted in life. It was that experience—those five months—that I realized I have to focus more on living a thriving life and not just getting through it. My previous jobs were busing tables and I didn’t like my life. I felt like a “slave” working my butt off for a master. It’s true I chose to work at restaurants, so I’m not accusing anyone of racism, however, in my heart, I never wanted to bus tables. The same is true for working at the Power House since I chose to work there. In prison I couldn’t just quit, in fact, I tried and my plans went south and I felt like I was stuck there. It was a horrible feeling. I felt like the hardest person in the city with nothing to show for it. I know I have so much potential, but I can’t be content working at a job I don’t care for or one that makes me feel like a slave. I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur. That’s why, as you’ll see in the future post, I quit the Power House. I was spending my time learning to be a slave when I should have been learning to be a master.

I entered into prison with the mindset of making my “punishment” the best experience it could be. I wanted it to make me a better person. This is proof that I did that. Although I feel that the Power House was a mistake, it was really just the pathway for me to realize my potential and entrepreneur and writing skills.