One of the regulars at the Tunnel Bar, Hal, was something of an expert on the NJ correctional system. He had an amusing story of his graduation from a youthful offender to an inmate. Transported from Hudson County early in the AM, he and a number of others were placed singly in a row of small cells in a corridor. Eventually a door slid open and a prisoner pushed in a metal table on wheels. On it were metal plates, a set of tongs, and a galvanized bucket — shiny and clean, but the same sort that’d you use to put sudsy water in to wash a car. In the pail were whole potatoes that had been deep fried. The guy went from cell to cell, sliding a steel plate between the bars.
“How many you want?”
Some said “one.” A few, “two.” Here and there, “three.” He’d then place potatoes through the bars onto the held plate.
One of the recently convicted when asked answered “six.”
“I can’t give you no six. Most I can give is four. Here you go: one, two, three, four . . . Lookee, I gave you one extra by mistake, but you can’t get no six.”
Reaching the next one, “How many you want?”
“Hey listen, I got no time to play games. I got three more floors to do. Whata you mean, ‘what’s this?’ It’s breakfast.”
“Breakfast?! This is too heavy for breakfast.”
“Well I guess you gonna have to go someplace else from now on.”