Advanced Reading Exercise

Prisoner 7042

In the following text, the headings of eight sections have been removed. Choose the best heading (A-H) for the eight sections (1-8). You only need to write the letter in the box.

Use these headings to fill the spaces below.

  1. Haunted By The Past
  2. Financial Wrongdoing
  3. Wasted Opportunities
  4. Healthy Diversions
  5. Yawning And Yearning
  6. Anxious Wait
  7. Artistic Escape
  8. Ordinary People

Looking Back In Anger


Max Scheffer gets up at 7a.m. He got up at 7a.m. today and he will get up at 7a.m. tomorrow. Max Scheffer knows today that he will get up at 7a.m. every single morning for the next 2 years of his life. Which probably explains the first thing Max intends to do when he gets out of Bayville Minimum Security Prison For Men. "I'm going to spend a week in bed. I wish we didn't have to get up so early. On the outside, I always hated getting up early." As he speaks to me, he calmly, almost nonchalantly, carves away at a wooden figurine with deft strokes of what seems to be a simple Swiss Army knife.


Max was sentenced to four years imprisonment for his part in a fraudulent scheme to overcharge clients in his Toronto-based insurance company. He gives me no more details than that and I don't ask. Two years of good behavior gives him every hope that he could be released as early as next year.


"I could never imagine someone like myself in a jail. It's beyond belief. There are so many normal guys like me in this place. Everyone is in for petty financial stuff. Nothing violent. Bayville is actually a pretty OK place. I just wish I wasn't so bored all the time."


Max finds his days organized for him. He spends up to 19 hours locked in his cell but, being a low security prison, some people would be surprised to find just how many home comforts he is allowed. "I watch a lot of TV. We only have about six or seven channels. You know, no cable! I got into watching those old black and white classics which is where the painting started." Max indicated the wall above the TV set to me and there, between huge posters of the Toronto Blue Jays and Albert Einstein were hung some 15 or so vintage style movie posters, all hand painted by Max himself.


"The warden was really decent about getting me the paints. I really regret not taking this up earlier. I've only been doing this for about six months. So you know, I could have spent the first 18 months a lot more constructively. When you're shut away like this, you have to occupy your mind or you'll go crazy. That's my favorite right there." He points out a small hand painted poster for the film Casablanca.


I avoid asking Max about the crimes that brought him here but ask him instead about how he feels about being here. What regrets does he have or does he not waste his time with regrets? It seems Max most certainly does waste his time. "I regret having been so greedy. I am here for $10,000. It wasn't worth it. I mean, even for a million it wasn't worth it. But for ten grand it was crazy. I wish I hadn't listened to my colleague who convinced me everything would go smoothly. I regret being so angry about things in the past I can't change but that's just the way I feel."


Max's cell shows all the signs of a man struggling with boredom. A harmonica lies at the foot of his bed while his small bedside table is full of wordsearch and crossword puzzle books. On the sill of his cell window, complete with screen instead of bars, lies a half-finished model of the Notre Dame in what looks suspiciously like toothpicks. "I wish I hadn't wasted so much time when I first got here. There are fellow inmates who have taken degree courses, masters, you name it, they've done it right here inside Bayville. I did nothing but watch TV and read the free magazines for over a year. I just thought that's what you did! I wish someone on the staff here had taken me aside and told me what possibilities exist in here. That would be my only complaint."


As we talk together in Max's cell, I notice him looking more and more at his watch. I ask what the problem is. "I'm waiting for the buzzer, you know for lunch. You start to live your life according to a buzzer. It's sad I know." Then just as he says that, the aforementioned call to lunch sounds and I think I see a look somewhere between satisfaction and relief pass across his very friendly face.

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