“Be the rare breed that stands out in the crowd before you get lost in the herd.”
This week has been another chaotic week of juggling clients. Monday I was at Ramsey Unit where we waited over an hour and a half to prescreen.
Tuesday, I met my bride, Lexus who has been trying to get married for two years at the barbecue joint down the street from the Beto Unit. She was wearing a white dress that would never clear the Unit for her photo session. I’m pointing this out because 57 people asked “did SHE get into the Unit wearing THAT dress?” No. She wore another dress into the Unit and due to her cleavage, one of my extra long bridal necklaces of multi gemstones to hide any visible cleavage.
Lexus got in and I handed her the wedding gifts my twin grandnieces buy with my credit card for clients because I don’t have time to buy my own gifts for clients. She loved her perfume and the small gift the twins picked out on their own. All of our clients receive a designer perfume and fun gift for women and designer cologne or fun gift for men as well as a wedding ring from our Texas Twins Treasures inventory if they don’t have one or an adjustable Italian tennis bracelet if they do. All of our clients receive free edited double print bridal or groom photos too. Cindy and I give our clients the Dream Weddings we didn’t have.
I love this suv. It’s a multitasking dream car. I can change my grandson, Oliver in the trunk, I can haul inventory and I have a huge advantage in it over the Sahara or Cherokee regarding comfort for 7-16 hours on the road to prisons. The Sahara is fun but far from comfortable.
We headed to Palestine looking for a nice backdrop. I finally found one at a restaurant. I was somewhat hungry and asked Lexus “can I buy you lunch?” We both enjoyed lunch together and learned about each other. I always love to buy my clients lunch and spend more time with them.
Leaving the restaurant we headed back to the barbecue joint that prior to Covid was always open. The parking lot was still empty. I got out and went to the door to see that they were now only open on weekends. Argh. Lexus had planned to change clothes there.
Checking my watch and since we still had plenty of time, I took her to the only gas station in Tennessee Colony to change clothes. I’ve been to this gas station a million times on my way to Michael & Coffield Units as well as Gurney, Powledge and Beto. They have a nice bathroom. Roomy and clean. I’m a bit of a bathroom “expert” in the Texas boondocks. I’ve seen the best and the worst of truck stop bathrooms too.
Leaving Tennessee Colony, Lexus and I still have enough time for a few more bridal photos in her dress for the Unit and take advantage of the opportunity to give her a wide variety of bridal photos. Chaplain Strange always emails me wedding photos so I was glad she would have both wedding photos and bridal photos.
Wednesday I was at Ellis Unit. I had my Ramsey Unit clients marriage license to file in person because rather than “busting it” from Houston to Huntsville Monday, I had to head from Ramsey to McClennan County Jail in Waco to meet another client on my way back so I took 35 rather than 45 which is always hit and miss. They’ve been working on both 35 and 45 for years now.
We had planned to meet at Chili’s right up the road from Holliday Unit. At 11:15, my bride sent a text that she had called Chili’s and there wasn’t an outlet to curl her hair so she was going to skip Chili’s and asked where to meet me for her bridal photos. I decided on the Walker County Courthouse since I needed to file that license and it makes a nice backdrop for photos.
We were scheduled at Ellis at 2PM meaning due to Covid prescreening, we would need to be on site by 1PM. At 12:02PM, I called her to ask where she was. We were 21 minutes from Ellis at Walker County Courthouse and I was now getting nervous as I had another event in Fort Worth Wednesday evening and had no time to do bridal photos AFTER the ceremony.
At 12:16PM while discussing my anxiety about not having my client on site with Cindy, my bride and her daughters as well as her sister pulled up. She was wearing a beautiful green dress and I had about 10 minutes now for her photo’s. I was busting it to get the best photos I could running to and from my suv while instructing het to stay in the shade as to not ruin her makeup and hair. We left 12 minutes later to head to Ellis caravanning our way through Huntsville.
Arriving at the duty shack first, I was waived in. This was really odd but I didn’t question it. My bride had pulled over but I assumed it was to double check her makeup as I hadn’t been to Ellis since the lockdown and assumed we would prescreen in the smaller building outside of the birdcage. I parked and sent a text “I will check us in.” The CO asked me to drop my DL in the basket and I waited. I was then told that the wedding was scheduled at 3PM rather than 2PM and to return to the entrance to prescreen. 3PM?! I was due in Fort Worth at 7PM. Huntsville is 3 hours in good traffic from Fort Worth. Argh.
I returned to entrance and was told by the CO “I thought you were an employee so I waived you on. I’m sorry. We need to prescreen here.”
I parked behind my bride and her family and “eyeballed a restroom” directly in front of me. Because I drink far too much coffee and double down with water, I was planning to make use of that restroom. My suv was screened at Ellis which is also odd and has never occurred. It’s standard at Polunsky. Anyone checking my suv spends little time on this screening because it’s LOADED. From veils to bouquets to signs to furs to wedding jewelry and even clothing for brides who might need it, a CO opening my trunk is literally looking at so much stuff that it’s overwhelming. I hand my DL over and swab both nostrils and ask “is that bathroom available?” It is. I then tell my bride and her family “I’m running over to that restroom.” There’s no toilet paper or A/C I shake dry myself and go back to my vehicle. My bride texts me from her suv “how bad is it in there?” I answer “not bad but if you have napkins or Kleenex take them with you there isn’t any toilet paper.”
We are told at 1:20PM “the Unit is waiting for other visitors to leave. You will need to wait here until they’ve cleared the facility.” Our wait would last about 55 minutes. I call Cindy and reach for my trail mix. I also drink another bottle of water from my cooler because even with my suv running the heat of running around at courthouse dehydrated me. We are finally cleared to enter. Going through shakedown, I have to pee again. I help my bride take off her shoes and clear first headed to the bathroom. I’ve got a 3 hour drive and I need to be making time back to Fort Worth.
This time I’m in the nicest restroom I’ve ever been in at a prison. It’s festively decorated and welcoming. A stark contrast to the other restroom I can assure you. I help my bride put her shoes back on and we wait to be escorted into non contact. Leaving the Unit I realize I didn’t get gas as I usually would next to Chili’s in my haste to haul ass to the clerks office. By the way, the certified copy I bought for my Ramsey Unit client when I filed her license in person was $37. I’m pointing this out because traditionally a certified copy of a marriage license in Texas is $6-14. I was also handed the original license which is also weird but I didn’t question it because I was too damn shocked at the cost of ONE certified COPY.
Leaving Ellis Unit and eyeballing my gas, I’m hoping the Santa Fe is “accurate.” I go to the Huntsville Post Office and mail the certified copy and original license via priority mail to my Ramsey client who lives near Huntsville. She will have it the following day. I text her the tracking information. I then mail my Ellis Units marriage license priority to San Antonio and text her the tracking information. I then literally haul ass to hit the highway.
Can I make it to the nearest gas station without stopping in Huntsville? I wing it although I am somewhat concerned about it and locate a station with an Arby’s attached. I’ve been here before but it’s been a few years. Their gas is $2.99 a gallon. They get it too because there’s not a helluva lot of stations in that area. I filled up.
Thursday, Cindy met me at my home AKA WorthamWorld and jumped into my suv to head to Boyd Unit. My bride has been undergoing cancer treatment. She chose a location at a park for her bridal photos. Cindy and I headed to the Unit early because I had never been there. I wanted to know exactly where it was because the distance from the bridal photo location to the Unit was about 20 minutes. I am glad I did because navigation lady led us to a cornfield and rickety bridge with two donkeys staring at twins wondering what the Hell was going on? Damn it navigation lady!
We drove through a remote area of farmhouses and pig farms before finally getting back onto a main road and located the Unit. As usual, I had to go to the restroom and announced myself to the birdcage CO by putting my DL into the basket lowered and lifted. The CO advised me that ” we were scheduled at 2PM and to return at 1:30PM to prescreen.” I then told him I was going to “borrow their restroom.” Clean, soap AND toilet paper? Boyd Unit even had personal pieces of soap for each person. Nice! Cindy was waiting in my suv so I asked if she wanted to use the restroom and was right she did and in fact was in such a hurry that she walked into the men’s restroom as the birdcage CO watched her as shocked as I was that she went into the wrong restroom. Another CO passing by when she was walking out told her “ma’am you were in the men’s restroom. The women’s is next to it.” Cindy replied “buddy I’m on high blood pressure meds and in menopause. I’m not picky and frankly wasn’t sure I would make it to the women’s and the men’s was closer to the door.” He laughed and went to lunch.
We left Boyd and pulled over to text Bobbye. We couldn’t get a signal so I pulled off the main road when my AT&T finally had 2 bars. Bobbye is as about 8-10 minutes away. She said to “wait near the unit and we would caravan to the park.” I told her where I was parked off the road and was surprised when a highway patrol officer going down the same road slowed down to flip me off. APPARENTLY I wasn’t “FAR ENOUGH” off the road. I reversed and blocked a driveway to wait on Bobbye. Wow.
We followed each other to the park. It was hot as hell and I worried about her being in the heat. I walked the areas I thought would work trying to find shade and worried about lighting. Bobbye is allergic to fire ants so I was very cautious about choosing two different locations inside the park. We then drove to the restroom so she could change clothes and used the first location I scouted with small wooden bridges and greenery. Cindy went to the restroom to help Bobbye. I began unloading inventory near the two bridges. As usual, I also checked my watch. I knew the distance was about twenty minutes back to Boyd Unit.
We got some great shots then backtracked to the area Bobbye had chosen initially but there were several ant piles so I walked her where there weren’t any to get a few more bridal photos then we literally hauled ass out of the park back to the Unit because we were in the park longer than I had anticipated.
I ask if Bobbye “has any handwritten vows?” She doesn’t but she has nicknames they call each other. I ask her to write them down for me so I can incorporate them into my ceremony.
Boyd was allowing us to purchase 8 Unit photos. I point this out because so far out of all of these Units I’ve travelled to the past 2 plus months, ONLY Ramsey and Beto have ALLOWED wedding photos.
Leaving the Unit, I tell Bobbye “we would like to take you to lunch. Follow us.”
The first restaurant I spot and turn my blinker on is nixed by Cindy. “If the people who live here don’t eat here something’s wrong.”
The next restaurant had ONE vehicle in the lot. I pull in and before I can even open my doors, five other vehicles pull in too.
We have an amazing lunch and learn that Bobbye has only one treatment left. She wants to plan her Vow Renewal at the beach. We can’t wait.
Headed back to Fort Worth the Jeep dealership calls. The Sahara is ready. I’m at Parker and Palo Pinto Jails Friday so I call my son to drive it back to my house.
I flew out Friday and back yesterday to watch my grandson, Oliver and take him with me to an event. Don’t be shocked. Our grandkids and kids have been going to event’s with us since I started Texas Twins Events. My family has babysat my clients children at prisons while I married them. I’ve babysat my clients children while instructing rehearsals and even held one child at a wedding because she wouldn’t stop crying. I’m everyone’s mother and my clients are everyone’s mothers too. They love to watch Maddie or Oliver while we get the job done.
There isn’t really a “line” between my work and family. Work and family are unified because my clients are amazing and loving and dedicated. I love their families and they embrace mine which is why I turn down and have been turning down traditional booking inquiries for years now. I work with who I choose to work with not because I have to work. I work because I enjoy the adventure, travel, people and friends who become the fabric of my life…