Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Voicemail from bureau of prisons

I walked into the office this morning, and glanced at my phone. It said I had 7 new callers since I left yesterday. Now, I'm not much of a phone person. I hate them. I think that comes from a brief stint I did on the help desk phones at Bechtel.

So, most people know not to call me. I scrolled through the caller-ID list, and there were 6 calls from the same number within about a hour. The number didn't look familiar. Curious, I checked my voicemail, which is something else I rarely do. A man identified himself as being from the IT department of the bureau of prisons, said he had a question for me about a request from an inmate for a book that I wrote the foreword for, and would I please call him.

Uh, sure.

Turns out that someone had put in a request for How to Own a Continent. His opening question was "This isn't fiction, is it?". I explained that it IS fiction, in that none of the events happened, but that we try to keep the technical details real. So yes, it's half fiction, and half technical book. By the time I had called him, he had already taken note of the price and where it is supposed to be shelved, and decided on his own that it didn't qualify as a novel. He made it sound like he had a copy in front of him, which I guess he wasn't planning to forward to the inmate.

I feel a little bad for the inmate who probably won't get to see it now, but I wasn't going to lie about it. I didn't try to grill the prison IT guy, or argue with him about his policies. I figure that was probably pretty futile. Maybe I'll call him back at some point and see if there's anything he is allowed to tell me about which prison this is or the name of the inmate. I assume he can't, but you never know.

If the inmate in question ever sees this: When you get out, or if you transfer somewhere where they are a little more lenient about your reading material, I'll get you a copy.

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