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First Hand Experience At Tent City Follow DUI Arrest (Part 3 of 3)

I served my time in the late summer and dealing with the unrelenting Arizona sun was, to put it lightly, depressing. Not only was the heat radiating from the ground, and the tops of the tents, but the nearly 1,000 people trying to stay in the shade only made the temperature under our canopies rise. Staying hydrated was a necessity to keep from succumbing to sunstroke or heat exhaustion. Anyone who lives in Arizona knows that there are certain days during the summer that you avoid going outside as much as you can. In tent city, you do not have the option of going indoors- just part of what gives this place its charm.

To fight boredom, inmates will bring books (only paperback- hard covers will be torn off prior to going in because they can be made into weapons), play cards, or find many clever ways to entertain themselves. I played a game with some other guys, similar to horseshoes, but we played with water bottles and two trash cans. Boredom will bring out the creativity in people. I would hardly say I was trying to make any friends while I was in there, but since we were all enduring the same fate, there was a feeling of mutual misery amongst us that made it more tolerable.

Tent city is also a great place to lose weight because the food that is served is almost inedible. Most of the food is donated and is on the verge of going bad. The bologna has a tint of green, the chicken is slimy, and the amount of flies on the food is enough to turn your stomach. I was very thankful that I was allowed to bring in $5.00 a day (in quarters) to purchase food at the commissary. There is not a huge selection, but granola bars and candy would be sufficient to get me through this ordeal.

Because of my job, I was on a work release program, so my ten days were spread out, allowing me to leave tent city between 5:00 am and 6:30 pm to go to work. I would only be there overnight during the week which was tolerable because I would exhaust myself before arriving so I would be able to sleep for most of the time I was there. This was much more tolerable than the weekends, where I was forced to spend both days there.

On my last day, my name was called several hours before I was supposed to be processed out of tent city, which gave me a glimmer of hope that I might be getting out early- I was sorely mistaken. I went back into the holding cell where my experience began. What made this part so painstaking was the thought that at any moment I would be getting released. Time dragged on for an eternity, and I was not discharged until the final minute that I had served my time. As physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted as I was, my debt had been repaid and I had made it through with only emotional scarring.

Recounting this experience was painful, but I hope it will help deter anyone else who may consider getting behind the wheel of a car after they have been drinking. If endangering the lives of others is not a hefty enough consequence, being forced to endure any stretch of time in tent city surely should be. I will never forget the misery that I felt when I was there, and I will do whatever I need to do to ensure that I never return.