Photo illustration by Sarah Rogers

There were two of us. We were completely naked showering with our backs toward each other. It’s an unspoken prisoner code to shower with your back against the man next to you to prevent “wandering eyes.” One mistaken glance downwards could indicate you’re interested in the other man.

Another unspoken code is to give each other personal space. Although we have to shower together, there are boundaries. 

Imagine a cage like a boxing ring with a shower on each corner. There are four shower heads available, but nobody dares shower with four men. Even three men is too crowded. It’s best to shower one at a time, or two at the most. This way each man can stand on the other side of the shower ring. 

I was completely outraged one day when a third man squeezed into the spot next to me and began to shower. I  noticed he had his back toward the wall and was looking toward the other man, who had been in there with me. 

I hurried up and exited the shower, leaving the two men behind. What that man did was a violation. He could have waited until there was only one man in the shower before he entered. 

Always face the wall when you shower, and never attempt to spark a conversation in the shower. It’s improper and predatory. Never ever be the third wheel.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Abdur Rahman Malik

Abdur Rahman Malik is a writer from San Diego and spends most of his time advocating for prisoners in California. His passion is uplifting the Black community. He is currently incarcerated in California and writes under a pen name.