Last week (on July 3rd) ten copies of our next book — La Boétie’s On Voluntary Servitude — were delivered by amazon to the prison addressed by name and title to the person who needs to vet all our readings, the librarian. Amazon helpfully also even notes who signed for it, so I really do know that the box was delivered. When I was at the prison that eve I looked for the box in the school though I knew that the odds of it having already been sent over to the school by the librarian were slim to none. I started to try to call the librarian on Monday, calling daily in the morning and early afternoon, only to have the extension ring through endlessly. Finally reached him today and heard what we have all heard many times in these circumstances: that he has not seen the box of books, and that he doesn’t have any idea where it might be. He tries to say that it must not have been delivered until I let him know that I have the name of the person who signed for it (and tell him the name). If he does find the box it will take at least a few more calls from me to have him send it to the school where I can distribute it to the men in the group, and it may well not be before the next time I am in, setting us back another few weeks.
It is safe to say that this sort of snafu with the books and other mailings from us is close to the norm: at the very least it is not at all exceptional. And on many occasions whole orders — boxes or envelopes — are never found (for example, a set of ten copies of the final exam from my critical thinking course which I’d covered with the group last summer, an exam they were very eager to take and go over). It’s even worse when it is a copy or two of a text, sent to hand out to members joining the group after we started a new book — those almost never make it to the school.
Beyond frustrating. The thing is that there is nothing we can do when this happens; if you complain there will be serious repercussions down the line.
My college paid for these books, and I would of course be very reluctant to send another batch into the void. I should clarify for new readers of the blog that we can’t take in anything other than our own copies of the materials being covered that night — and a pen, if you are lucky. No purses, no keys, no extra papers, no nothin.