Todd E "Copout # 3"
Todd E Copout # 3
March 15,1985 to February 13,1987
The copout story you are about to read is the result of many numerous telephone interviews between Chris Poole in Reston,Virginia and Todd Eckelberger in New Castle,Pennsylvania. Todd was very generous with his time and he did the all the talking and I did all the writing. He was very candid and honest with everything that happened which I greatly appreciate. It was truly a collaborative effort in every sense of the word. Todd and I are both very happy with the finished story and we hope you are to. We both worked extremely hard to bring this to you and make this copout story part of the public record on Straight Inc. We hope that people will read this copout story from start to finish.
I remember copping out from Springfield,Virginia Straight for the third time. This was back in the middle of November of 1985. I’d just made 3rd phase and I bolted not long after I got back to Woodson High School on 9525 Main Street in Fairfax,Virginia. I was in the 10th grade at the time. I didn`t think twice about it. I didn`t need to. It was the right thing to do. (Ironically there were lots of students (past and present) at Woodson High School who had heard of Straight and those who had also been to Straight at one time or another or who knew someone who had.) I don`t remember who had driven me to school on that morning. The last time I had been a student at this school was back in March of 1985. On this first day being back at Woodson High School in November 1985, I felt humiliated being back at school. Everything I had believed in had been jammed up my ass by them. I had been thrown down on the road and driven over multiple times by them. “Them,”meaning Straight,my parents,Woodson High School, the System and The Law. It`s The Truth. I had been back at school less than an hour when I immediately sought out to find some friends at school who had a car who could get me out of there as quickly as possible. It was morning at Woodson High School about 15 to 30 minutes before the first class started so naturally all the halls were loud and crazy crowded with students everywhere. I went to the area where my old locker was from the old days and I intently searched the hallway around the area where I was used to seeing and talking with my old friends. Those High School lockers were a greyish color. I quickly found one of my friends and said, “Get me out of here!!” He instantly agreed to help me. We wasted no time. He gave me a fast ride out of there and we got out of Dodge real quick.
Later on that day I went to this local store and went right to the cosmetic aisle. I selected and purchased the darkest blue/black hair dye there that I could possibly find. Hours later I dyed my hair in the bathroom of my friend Andrew`s house. This bathroom was on the second floor of his house. Andrew was a friend of mine from Woodson High School. My hair originally had been a brownish-blond color but this was about to change. The whole hair dying procedure took about 30-45 minutes. When I was finished my hair was a bluish-black color which was exactly what I wanted. By the time I was finished there was this bluish/black hair dye all over that bathroom. The hair dye was running down my nose and my neck. It was all over my body, the mirror,the walls,the shower,the shower curtain,the toilet, the countertop and the floor. It was a very small bathroom plus it was the first time that I had ever dyed my hair. I just didn`t know what I was doing. That`s why all of that hair dye went amok and was all over the place. I pretty much ruined the bathroom wallpaper. It was everywhere. To say that bathroom was a complete mess is an understatement to say the very least. I couldn`t have made a worse mess if I tried. I looked like a Shamonic Visionary. It was all so out of control. The bathroom looked like the inside of a dark Chimney. The whole thing was an absolutely, absurd, endeavor. Nevertheless, I`m glad I dyed my hair. Both Andrew and his mom never said anything about it. I give them both a lot of credit for being very cool with me not only in this situation but also every other time I was at their house.
This is the backstory to hair dye part of my story. Back on March 15, 1985 both Harry Taylor and I came into Straight on the very same day. At some point Harry copped out from Straight off 3rd or 4th phase and made it all the way down to Florida. Harry dyed his hair jet black to disguise himself and to throw people off his trail who were looking for him to capture him and send him right back to Straight. When he finally came back to Springfield,Virginia Straight and showed up with his hair all black I made a mental note of that. I was impressed. I thought to myself that`s the way to go. That`s exactly what I`m going to do the very next time I copout from Straight. So that is precisely why I dyed my hair. Harry Taylor copped out 3 times from Straight. After his 3rd copout he never came back to Straight.
I had wanted to pierce my left ear for several years but I didn`t because it was frowned upon by both of my parents. So out of respect for both of them I didn`t pierce my ear. I didn`t pierce my ear until after I had been copped out after one week because I believed both my parents had fucked me by putting me into Straight Incorporated and insisting I stay there until I graduated that place. So later on that day in the second floor bathroom of my friend Andrew`s home, I pierced my left ear. What I did was I heated up a sewing needle or a safety pin with a BIC Lighter. I put that safety pin or sewing needle into the flame for 30 seconds or more. I then pushed it through. The needle was hot. The pain was righteous expression of some of the pain I was going through with Straight. I heard a series of pops. It wasn`t bloody. I put a Silver hoop earring in my left ear. It was small but noticeable.
Andrew and his mom let me crash at their house off and on for a total of two weeks. I always felt safe at Andrew`s house. Actually that was the one place where I felt the safest. I had met Andrew at Woodson High School and I had known him less then a year. His parents were divorced. His father was an Air Force member living somewhere in Alexandria,Virginia. His mother was very kind and compassionate about my situation even though we never talked about it. They fed me,gave me clothes and let me use the shower when I needed to.They were very helpful and very loving people. I was always grateful to them and I always will be. One night Andrew and I took some acid and watched some movies. We watched “Birdy,” “The Secret Of NIMH” and “Married To The Mob.” We had the volume turned down and we let our imaginations run wild by making up the movie dialog in our heads. We watched the movies in the main living room. His mom had a nice Burke townhouse. The living room was sort of sunk in about two steps and there was a wrap around couch and a television set on the mantle. It was a nice set up. I’m sure it was expensive housing.
I had Thanksgiving dinner at my friend Amanda`s house. It was a delicious meal on a big table with lots and lots of food. Amanda was a pretty and curly haired blonde girl. I knew her because she used to ride the same school bus that I did to and from Woodson High School. Her family and some extended family were all there for Thanksgiving. About 12 or more people were there. Everyone there was very nice to me. I was sitting somewhere in the middle of the table right next to Amanda. We all ate like Kings that night and I had a great time. At some point during the meal I told her entire family this bogus story that I was presently visiting from San Diego, California. I had to lie to disguise why I was alone and at their house on Thanksgiving. Days later Amanda told me that her family figured it out that I wasn`t visiting from the West Coast. Her family later questioned her about me and my California tale. What happened was during that Thanksgiving dinner I constantly kept referring to living in California in the past tense as if I had lived there years ago. True, I had lived there years ago but my fiction story was that I was still living out there and merely visiting The Virginia area. Amanda`s family didn`t call me out or grill me about my story of “visiting” from San Diego because they didn`t want to ruin the Thanksgiving dinner by getting confrontational. Unfortunately her family found out I was lying because I kept referring to California in the past tense. Plus the fact that I didn`t have a Southern California tan might have also made them suspicious about me.
Unbeknownst to her parents, I secretly spent that night with Amanda upstairs in her bedroom. The next morning came. It was around 9:00am when we woke up. The Sun was up. We couldn`t talk out loud and risk being overheard by her parents. We both knew that I had to get out of that house quickly. Amanda said, “You can`t walk down the stairs.” She was right. Her family was up and about and they would have spotted me right away if I tried to leave the house by walking down the stairs. Amanda said, “We have to get you out of here. You have to go out the window.” We were on the 2nd or 3rd floor of her house. It was pretty high up. So I was fast on my feet and quickly tied three of her bedsheets together. I opened up her bedroom window and started to lower myself down. I got to the end of the third bedsheet and I was still only halfway down. I got worried when I got to the end of those bedsheets. In my mind I was clinging on the end of those bedsheets for dear life. Not a fun situation to be in. I let go and when I hit the ground I landed on my feet hard. My whole body absorbed the impact. I felt the compression of my spine when I landed. The fall knocked the wind out of me. I was never off my feet. My chin bounced off my knee. The hardest part of my chin hit my kneecap. Ouch! That hurt really bad for a few minutes there. Lucky for me I didn`t accidently bite my tongue off in the process. I wouldn`t want to go through that experience again. Before leaving the house it was either Amanda or myself that called up one of my friends on the phone and after I left her property one of our friends came to pick me up in their car. I was out of there in no time. I don`t know who exactly picked me up nor do I remember exactly where I went.
During this month when I was copped out when I wasn`t crashing at Andrew`s house, I lived (off and on) in the woods between the subdivisions within earshot of Old Keene Mill Road, one of the main arteries from the rich suburbs of Fairfax County,Virginia into the Beltway around Washington,DC. I got established in these woods one week after I had copped out. I found this kids tree fort in the woods. With my bare hands I tore down the kid`s tree fort and dragged the plywood boards away to make myself a rectangular size, coffin shaped, shelter on the ground, near a storm drain in the woods, below the road, and so I spent a lot of time there, just sitting there invisibly. I felt really bad doing this and still do to this day. Just really not cool doing that to some kid`s tree fort but at the same time I knew I was in a life or death situation and it was cold outside. I was desperate to survive like a beast beyond the repression of Civilization. I was under siege and defenseless and trying my best to survive. I am 5ft 10 inches tall so there was more then enough room for me because the dimensions of that coffin was 8 feet by 3 feet. It gave me protections and perfect insulation from the winter weather elements. Plus it rained a lot during that 30 days copout and that coffin sheltered me from that. It was always warmer inside the coffin then it was outside the coffin. Ironically I felt dead when I was inside that coffin. There were times during some days when I slept in that coffin structure I built. I was bored and hungry and some of these best things I could do was sleep. I had a pillow and sleeping bag. Battery powered lamp. These items and others were freely given to me by Andrew and his mom. Set up comp out there.Little fire pit that I had out there. Keep in mind that this was in a little patch of woods that nobody would bother with. Quiet, eating little, hungry and hiding and not doing much. I could hear the traffic going by all the time. I hid out there during the day completely alone and broke and hungry and I was just glad to be out of group and have my privacy. I took some LSD on that copout trip. Man, you talk about stillin the mind. After being in Straight for a almost year and runnin 3 times and then coppin out and sittin in the woods like that, while the world went by. The World was going on around me. When I was copped out from Straight, hiding out in those woods, listening to the birds in the trees, following the path of the stream. The Sun seemed to shine so nice. I was completely alone. Runnin’ in the narrow stretches of woods between subdivisions that connected what little forest was left at that time around Fairfax and Burke. I couldn’t take the chance of being seen so I never came out of the woods during the day. Sleeping in the coffin structure was never a problem because I was always well dressed,I had a pillow and I was inside two Army sleeping bags.
One night we drove around Fairfax and Burke,Virginia in Shannon`s mom`s car. Shannon had been in my Biology class at Woodson High School in 1984. She wasn`t my girlfriend until this 3rd copout. This was about two weeks into my copout. We all did LSD that night. Me and this guy named Wayne got into a shoving match over Shannon in some McDonalds parking lot. We both really liked her and we both wanted her. Wayne got into the front seat to be next to Shannon. I wasn`t having any of that so I pulled him right out of the front seat. Wayne and I did some shoving back and forth and then I got into the front seat and then shut the door. Wayne got in the back seat. That act sealed the deal between Shannon and me. At that point Shannon knew that I liked her. She could tell.
There was this path. I walked this foot path every day. The path didn`t have a name. It was the path that the alcoholics took.I went through the woods. Half mile from where I was shacked up in the woods to the Mall. I enjoyed the walk.Nice and peaceful.I felt protected. I cut across the Powerlines. Down over this hill. You couldn`t see Old Keene Mill Road but you could hear it. 30 feet hill next to my hideout. I would always hear cars and trucks wizzing by. See the backyards of the townhouses. This was Burke. There was houses in clumps of eight. I would cut through the townhouses and come out in the parking lot.Walk through the parking lot for awhile. Come to the edge of the parking lot. Then there was this grassy area. Twenty feet thick woodline. Then you came to the Powerlines.
One night Andrew and I were wondering around the Powerline. We were tripping our brains out on LSD. We climbed up the ladder on one of the structures. We were about 30 feet up in the air. We were up there enough off the ground to get uncomfortable. You could feel the thing vibrating and humming. It was foolish and dangerous and yet exciting and a righteous thrill. With that experience I was validating myself and reclaiming my own identity away from those who had stolen it, specifically Straight Incorporated.
I recall one night I was deep in the woods with my lady friend Shannon at my camp site area. I had a firepit right outside my coffin. It was raining. It was overcast,dreary,depressing. It was not Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale,Florida for sure. So we got a fire going. I told Shannon, ” Don`t worry. I have a big can of Tuna and we`re gonna cook it for dinner right now.” I had a buck knife and I kept puncturing the can of tuna. It was the only food that I had on that night. I methodically went around in a circle. Metal on metal. It wasn`t good for the knife. It was dangerous as well. It took awhile but I finally got the can opened. I cooked it and we both enjoyed eating it for supper. It was later on during this night when I lost my virginity. Shannon and I made love inside the coffin. We both loved each other. It was so beautiful and we both will never forget that night.
Andrew and I hung out a few times at this Chinese Restaurant somewhere in Burke,Virginia. I didn`t have any money and it was nice to get a hot meal. I recall one time that I was there. I don`t remember if Andrew was with me or not. I struck up a conversation with one of the customers in the Chinese Restaurant. I didn`t know this person at all. He was just somebody I happened to meet at this establishment. I ended up doing cocaine in the bathroom with him. He dipped one of his keys into this plastic bag of cocaine and put it up to my nose and I snorted it. This was the very first time I ever tried cocaine.
There were some times when I shoplifted to eat at places like Dart and other regular stores where you could get general stuff. I stole candy bars like Snickers and Twix and boxes of generic cookies. The cream filled kind with lemon drop. I didn`t want to do it because if I got caught then I was done. I would have been arrested and sent right back to Springfield,Virginia Straight. Still, or was starve or shoplift so I chose the latter.
One day I was walking behind this Mall. I came across this parked car one day when walking around. It was a common car. One of the car doors was open. Inside was this old style hippie,suade jacket. It was real Earthy and 1070`s style. It was this Western style jacket. The kind that General Custar might have worn back in his time. It was in the front seat laying across the seat. It had fringes. I took that and ended up wearing every day after that. How I loved that jacket and still do to this day.
For most of that month I stayed off the streets during the daytime as much as I could. I avoided sidewalks and main streets and I stuck to the obscure roads Sure there were times that I did but it was very seldom that I ventured out in public during regular, daytime, daylight hours. I felt like a Vol trying to scamper across the field without being caught and attacked by the Hawks and Owls who were looking for a meal. At night I was like a cat.
One time both Andrew and I dropped some LSD. We were very high. It was early in the morning around 2:00am. We went over to this shopping center in Burke. This cool old black dude was working and driving this street sweeper around. His job was to drive around all night. His vehicle had this yellow flashing light on top and circular brooms underneath. He was already cleaning them, in his street sweeper truck, I walked right up to the truck, while he was in it and just asked him for a ride…LOL ! He was very kind. He was very cool and let me hop in with him for a ride around the parking lot. It was pretty trippy. We were up high. I could feel all the vibrations and I could hear the brushes working on the ground. I remember the guy had a radio inside and that it was playing. It was like being inside the EVA pod in the 1968 film classic, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” There were all of these buttons,levers, lights and switches. It was all so cool,visual beautiful. Everything was so breathtaking and so sensory overload that I was experiencing.
During my May 1985 copout and during this latest November-December 1985 copout as well, both my parents gave the Fairfax County Police everything they had on me. They told them who my friends were,where they lived and the places in and around Fairfax and Burke where I was known to hang out at. So at some point I became aware of the fact that the police were looking for me. I was being hunted. I had a casual underground network of people who knew of my situation and who knew about Straight and I would get reports from them. The cops were circling in on me. Everywhere I had been the cops had been there. I wasn`t Public Enemy Number One but I certainly felt like I was. I was definitely on the Police radar. I was under a pretty real threat from the Police. Sometimes they would question people I knew or question their parents and I would hear about it later. I was 17 which meant I was not legally an adult. I was a minor in the eyes of the Law and I knew this was the way this was going to be. I didn`t like being underage nor did I like the Police being on my trail but I accepted that this was the reality of my situation and this was way that the game was played. One time a police investigator who was chasing me gave me a message through a friend of mine for me to call him. So one day I called him from a pay phone. It was a brief conversation. I didn`t want to stay on the phone to long. He tried to find out where I was. I said, “I really don`t trust you. You`re probably tracing this call right now. I just called to see what you had to say.” He said, “If we were tracing the call we would have you already.” He gave me the willies when he said that. My gut feeling was telling me that because he wanted to ease me into a false sense of security. Why else would he want to talk with me? He wanted to catch me. Plain and simple. My guess is he was lying through his teeth and tracing the call was exactly what he was doing. I didn’t tell him anything of substance, hung up the phone quick and got movin’ again. I had no home. No Family. No money. No shelter. I knew I was bein’ unjustly persecuted and with only the clothes I wore, a sleeping bag and a knife, I felt fine, in my alone-ness. I felt strong and independent. My mind was my own. My mind was still. I was comfortable with myself and who I was.
At some point during my one month copout I got a job working for Washington Times Newspaper. My friend Andrew was working for The Washington Times or he had a friend who was working there. All of us kids would load up in this van and be dropped off in different neighborhoods in the area. I would go door to door selling subscriptions for The Washington Times. We did this between 5:00pm and 8:00pm every night. I recall it always being dark out when we knocked on peoples doors. I did this for one or two weeks. I don`t think I ever ended up getting paid. On one of those nights our van pulled into the local 7-11 so we could buy some refreshments. Steve Matthews was coming out of the 7-11 just as I was walking inside with the others. Steve had 2 bottles of wine and was with two hot chicks who he was on his way to go party with. Steve had withdrawn himself from Springfield,Virginia Straight two months earlier when he had turned 18 in September of 1985. Steve and I had a conversation. I told Steve that I was copped out and he knew exactly what I was going through. Steve had experienced years of being at Straight as well as numerous copouts of his own over the years. Steve was cool with me. The bond and respect between us was one of the most human connections I ever experienced. It was a very exclusive bond and respect that only copouts from Straight can fully understand. When we finally ran into each other in the Real World we both spoke freely for once. Steve gave me his phone number and told me to call him. Sadly I never did. This would be the very last time I would ever see him. Both then and I know I think of Steve as this mystical and heroic figure. It overwhelms me to this day. I have always held great respect for Steve Matthews and I always will.
Over the course of that month the pressure was mounting from many sides both internally and externally. I was constantly cold, penniless and hungry. I was extremely exhausted,lonely and depressed. More emotional stress and turmoil was feeling constantly paranoid and not knowing who to trust. Always being on that heightened state of high alert for everything was very draining and taxing on me. The Cops were zeroing in on me. They were contacting my friends and going places they thought I would be at. The word on the street was that the Police were going to press charges on Andrew`s mom for sheltering me and helping me. To this day I don`t know how they knew she was helping me but they did know. This news about pressing charges was very upsetting to me because she was a sweet woman who risked both her career and her status in the community to help me. The Northern Virginia winter weather was another problem and pressure. It was very cold and often rained. The weather was below freezing on many nights. To make matters worse, December was half over with and we were heading deeper and deeper into winter. The coldest part of winter which would be the final two weeks of December and the months of January and February would soon be staring me right in the face. My copout had turned into a hopeless situation.
Finally, I decided to turn myself in. I didn`t want to do this at all and I had spent the last month doing everything humanly possible to avoid just this kind of outcome. I remember being at Shannon`s house. My parents were there and her parents were there. I don`t know if I had called them myself in advance or if somebody else had called them on my behalf. My parents arrived. There was this big conversation in the Living Room with myself,her parents and my parents. It lasted about one hour. Afterwards, I went home with my parents.
At Shannon`s house and also after I got back home, I registered my discontent with my parents at the prospect of returning back to Straight but it was no use. My parents minds were made up long in advance going back to the very first day when they had put me in Straight. They were 100% Gung-ho about Straight and there was nothing I could say or do that was going to ever change their minds. Sadly, I knew that turning myself in would unfortunately result in my being sent back to the Hell known as Straight. I had no adults on my side except for Andrew`s mom and she was willing to go only so far to help me which I totally understood. I spent that last night of freedom sleeping in my bed in my room. It was a profound night for me mentally and emotionally. It was a weird feeling to be copped out for a month and then to be back in my room. Yes it was quite a shift. I felt some temporary peace being back in my own home and yet I felt stress (among other negative emotions) because every single minute of that night I knew I would be going back to Hell the next day. I knew exactly what awaited me back there and it wasn`t pretty at all. Still, I was tired and resigned to my ugly fate of returning back to Springfield,Virginia Straight. The next day that`s exactly what happened. I got taken back to Straight a week before Christmas. Returning back to Straight was a difficult adjustment and experience for many reasons. I missed my cherished freedom that I had fought so hard for during that month plus I missed Shannon,Andrew,Amanda and my other friends on the outside. I did manage to stay out for a month from the middle of November to the middle of December. I`m glad I did it. I did more living in that one month than most people do in one year. That month I escaped was one of the most dynamic times of my Life. Not only that but Straight and the Fairfax County Police never caught me during that month on the run which was another victory for me.
My first day back at Springfield Straight I was treated like a hardcore criminal. Upon arrival at Straight I was instantly beltlooped in the Front Office and shuttled away to an intake room. I was grilled and interrogated by two oldcomers and some staff members. I was kept in there for several hours. I was very candid and open about everything that I had done during my 30 day copout. Towards the end of that day I was beltlooped inside that intake room and taken into the Open Meeting Room where Group was. I knew what was going to happen before it happened because I had witnessed this insanity countless times before when previous copouts were re-introduced back to the cult members in group at Straight. It was the typical group reintroduction. Some staff member yelled out the infamous rhetorical question “Who Remembers Todd?” All these arms and hands flew up in the air and then the massive motivating in unison started. I was confronted, blasted and yelled at by one brainwashed phaser after another after another. I honestly didn`t care what any of them thought about me or said to me. I was finally sat on front row. My dyed black hair must have made a big impression on the other people in group because to this day people still mention it to me on Facebook.
I had been back at Straight about a week. It was night. Night rap was over. They had turned around all of the chairs in that very last back row of group in the opposite direction. That last row of chairs were facing away from the group. I was sitting right near the Medication Line and facing it. It was very chaotic. Dismissal Line was forming. I was sitting in the very back on group not far from the bathrooms. People were getting ready to go home. People were getting their coats and other belongings. The Medication Line was open for business. Staff was finalizing and yelling out home situations for newcomers. Lots of commotion and lot of movement was going on in that giant Open Meeting Room. Out of the blue a 5th Phaser leaned over to me and told me that my friend Amanda had called up (or sent a letter to) radio celebrity and disc jokey, Casey Kasem`s Nationwide radio show and she made a long distance dedication song to me. I never found out what exact song it was but I do know that Casey Kasum played the song request and mentioned Amanda`s name and my name and the whole backstory. What that 5th phaser did (by Straight`s rules) was a punishable act. He shouldn`t be telling me that. It was not the kind of thing you tell a guy on first phase who had just come back to Straight after recently copping out. It was odd. I was blown away that he would tell me that but he did. I was stunned but happy at the same time. I was very appreciative and grateful that he told me that. He boosted my morale in spades. I was also blown away that Amanda would do that. I was in shock but I also felt so loved by Amanda which I was. I didn`t tell anyone what the 5th phaser had confided in me or the fact that he broke the rules by telling me. It was one week or one month later that, that specific 5th phaser copped out from Straight. Incredible but very True.
One night after another crazy day at Straight I was beltlooped and standing inside that military square dismissal line with everyone else. I was spontaneously overcome with this sense of disempowerment. I was so frustrated and pissed off at The World. I was sick and tired of having my mind and soul endlessly tormented and abused by Straight. My emotions were building and building and boiling up to the surface. I had no outlet to share exactly how I was really thinking and feeling. How could anyone be more repressed? So I silently stepped out of the dismissal line and punched the wall as hard as I could with my right fist. I was so pissed. It made a big hole in the wall. I was getting close to my breaking point. It was a sign I couldn`t cope much longer with the 24 hour insanity of Straight Inc. I`m glad that I punched the wall. I`m also very glad that I didn`t punch one of the studs in the wall because if I had, I would have broken my hand for sure. Right after I punched the wall everyone in that open meeting room was shocked. All the eyes in that room were on me at that moment. Suddenly one of the staff members instantly grabbed me and marched me over to the Infirmary room. He was pissed. He wasn`t happy with me punching that wall. He said to me, “What are you doing,man? “You`re not going anywhere. You need to accept the fact that you`re here.” He gave me the industry standard, staff member to newcomer talk and that was that. After we talked I cooled off for the time being. It was not to last.
During that first month back at Springfield,Virginia Straight I was non-compliant. True, I didn`t get into fights or end up restrained on the floor. My rebellion was that I didn`t write any M.I`s. I never motivated at all in raps or at any other time. As a result I was viewed as a rebellious newcomer and a misbehaver. I wasn`t looking for trouble but I wasn`t going to conform or give in to Straight. I wasn`t going to give an inch. It wasn`t long till I was put on a laundry list of “Newcomer Consequences” aka “Human Rights Abuses.” Staff wanted to make me as uncomfortable as possible. These are the newcomer consequences that I was put on by staff.
1. Two minute Military showers every day.
2. “No Mirror” which meant I was never allowed to look at myself in the mirror at Straight and at my hosthome.
3. I had to always ask permission in advance to use every single, specific, square of toilet paper both at the Straight building and at my hosthome. I had to request permission in a specific (and very demeaning) way. I always had to phrase my request by saying, “By The Courtesy of your humble hosthome may I please have your kind permission to use this square of toilet paper.” I had to say that every time I wanted to use some toilet paper.
4. I wasn`t allowed to ever drink anything except for water. No sweets.
5. No food condiments. No ketchup,no mustard, no sweets,no spices,no butter.
6. No second helpings.
7. Late Night Therapy/Sleep Depravation. I was kept awake and only allowed 3 hours sleep every day from 3:00am to 6:00am. My two oldcomers took turns watching me and keeping me awake. I was forced to sit up straight in my underwear in this uncomfortable chair with no cushions. If and when I blinked my eyes I would get poked by my oldcomers.
8. Every day at Straight I was kept holed up inside an intake room and keeping me isolated all day long from everyone. Staff didn`t want me in group because they didn`t want me encouraging the other newcomers to also rebel. Staff wanted to torture me by making my day as unpleasant as possible by keeping me confined to that intake room. They were wasting their time because I actually enjoyed being in the intake room and being out of group. One day I requested drawing supplies and staff gave permission for me to have blank drawing papers and crayons. (Rather strange and ironic that they granted this kind request to the same person whose life they were trying to make as miserable as possible 24/7.)
Months later I made it back up to 3rd phase when I copped out again for a fourth time. I`m glad that I copped out all four times. You can read all about it in my writing called “Todd E “Copout # 4.″