Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reflections While Stuck in an Elevator

So I was stuck in the office elevator yesterday for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Bad luck; tried to leave fifteen minutes early and a transformer blew up nearby, killing the electricity in a huge area of the city.
A dimly lit, hot, 3 by 6 foot cell is not everyone's ideal place to spend time. There are a lot of things going against it, of course, all mostly obvious: no washroom, no reading, limited cell phone use since time of release is uncertain... However, there were some things to commend the experience. For one thing, you learn from experience how you will react to this claustrophobic situation. You find out whether you will panic, whether you will start going crazy, etc. No, I didn't panic, and I can't attribute my craziness to the experience. But what I discovered was a new appreciation for what it must be like for those who are incarcerated for whatever reason in such enclosures. You feel the boredom building; you get increasingly restless, distracted. Trying to imagine what it would be like for days, weeks... inhumane is what it is. Oh sure, it was an opportunity for me to concentrate on being meditative, doing some stretching, disciplining my mind to deal effectively with the situation. But it was a lark because I, unlike others, knew that I was getting out. It could take hours, but it wasn't even remotely hopeless.
So does keeping people locked up like that rehabilitate them? How could it possibly do so? Incarceration is punishment, pure and simple.
And yes, I will be taking the stairs for the foreseeable future.

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