So I’ve been a fan of Orange is the New Black on Netflix, since day 1. It’s well written, the characters are believable and it’s funny and thoughtful as well. Why I had never listened to the book (I don’t have time to read so I use audible for my ridiculously long commute) was beyond me. To right this wrong, I used my September Audible credit and purchased the book, Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman.
I approached this book somewhat scared for what I would hear. Would there be additional memoirs of jail house fights? Was there horrendous rapes that were too graphic for the series? Were conditions really on par with Broken Down Palace?
No, none of that. In fact, prison sounds kinda nice.
Now you have to understand where I’m coming from. Up until recently, I had to fake diarrhea almost every other day, just to get me time. Even then, my “alone time” was spent having a conversation with a 6-year-old on the other side of the bathroom door. I forget what it’s like to shop for clothes and I do 95% of the laundry in my home. This on top of my full-time job.
Look, I’m not saying Piper is painting prison as if it’s a luxurious resort but there are a few “perks” that don’t seem half bad. From what I’ve read so far, here is what I could totally live with:
Perks of a Minimum Security Prison
- Free gym membership as there’s a jogging track and exercise room. Bonus, it’s within walking distance of your house!
- Unless you have cooking detail, you never have to cook! Someone else is always cooking your food. No more planning recipes, grocery shopping or listening to family refuse to eat your culinary creations.
- Relatives/friends put money in your commissary account. According to Piper, they got to shop twice a week in the evenings. Twice a week? Did you hear me? Shopping….alone….without husband or kids asking when we will get to leave…twice a week!!
- You only have your laundry to do. Not sheets from 3 beds, towels and wash cloths as well as everyone else’s clothing. Suddenly the 2 loads a day goes down to just 2 loads a week. I….CAN’T….EVEN……FATHOM…..
- Quiet time. According to Piper, she would sit under the shade of trees and look up at the sky. Do you understand how peaceful that would be?
- You get to skip the resume, cover letter, phone interview(s), personal interviews and writing thank you notes ti apply for a job because you’re assigned a job! Sure, you’re only paid .14 a week but that’s where the money from relatives offsets it.
- Don’t feel like having sex one night? No problem! Your husband isn’t in prison with you! On the flip side, if you swing the same way as a few of the ladies in the pokey, you have many potential dates/options in your future.
- Normally you have 0 time to learn a new language, write a novel or even read a book. In prison, all you have is time. They don’t call it “doing time” for nothing. You get to make time your bitch in prison.
- No longer are you swaying in the wind, in front of your closet, declaring you have nothing to wear. Everyone wears the same jump suits and you don’t have a closet in prison.
- Apparently, the long-term residents insist on making your bed for you in an effort to pass inspection. Um, someone vying to make my bed? I think I have a tear of happiness in my eye right now.
- Piper expressed how upon visiting with friends, they said she never looked better. When you don’t have drugs or alcohol in prison, coupled with the horrible food and the free gym, your body obviously takes on a dramatic transformation.
- Piper became great at Yoga. Someone donated yoga mats to the prison and a prisoner taught yoga classes.
- Every Saturday night is movie night! What? I don’t have to watch Boss Baby for the 14th time?
- You can have magazine subscriptions. I would have every magazine sent to me.
- You learn many life hacks in prison including: how to clean with maxi pads, how to make prison cheesecake and how to smuggle chicken in your pants.
I really recommend not only the book but the show. Piper Kerman is a talented story-teller. Without being preachy and boring, not only does she entertain but she conveys the serious issues found in our prison system.
P.S. For the trolls of the internet: at no point do I seriously believe prison is like a 5-star hotel or would ever want to go to prison. As an exhausted mother, I found myself laughing one day, thinking about the simple pleasures I sometimes seek (free-time, watching grownup movies, not doing laundry, etc.) and Piper’s life behind bars.