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July 18, 2013

Nowhere Left to Run: Sherman County Jail - Days 4 & 5


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Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly at the Days Inn hotel in Goodland, Kansas.

Wednesday & Thursday, July 17-18

Pratt, Kansas - Goodland, Kansas

Odometer at the start of the day: 7,763 miles
Odometer at the end of the day: 8,019 miles
Miles driven today: 256 miles

Yesterday, I woke up in Bill's trailer.

Bill used to work with Carmen, and she introduced us because we were both big into catching live bands that rolled through town. So Bill was my concert buddy. He left Dallas and moved back to Pratt around 1996 I think. He's sitting on something crazy like a section of land or so.

I spent the morning with Bill's family loading pigs into a trailer to take to the Pratt Town Fair. Dunno if you've ever tried to load mature 225 pound pigs into a trailer, but as it turns out, it's not easy.

First, Shannon cut a limb off of a tree over the pig pen, and laid it in the back of the trailer. Pigs get excited when they see anything green, and we were able to get about half of the pigs into the trailer using this ruse. But then, the other pigs sort of figured out that something was up.

The pigs are fairly smart and they decided that they didn't want to get into the trailer no matter what happened. So, Bill, Shanon, and all three kids had to get in on the action. Lots of ear pulling and squealing, but finally they got them all loaded up. I just stood back and took photos, of course.

Shannon hauled off the kids and the pigs to slaughter, leaving me and Bill to catch up over pizza tacos.

"Where do you see yourself in six months?" Bill asks. It's a debilitating question, of course. I don't know where I'll be in six hours, much less six months. I dunno what to say. I don't have an answer to the question.

"I dunno," I laugh. But the question haunts me. It shouldn't be that hard to answer. I'm sure most people have an answer to a question as simple as that. I, on the other hand, do not.

After lunch, I roll out of town heading for Denver. I'm not clear what I'll do in Denver, but at least I can copy all of my photos off onto my home network and switch off some of my camera gear before heading on to Glacier National Park.

I figure I've got about 360 miles to go, roughly, so I open the throttle and just run about 90 for hours, stopping only for gas.

This works fine until I get to within about 200 miles of Denver. Somewhere near Goodland, Kansas, I Kansas HIghway Patrol pulls me over. OK. So, you clocked me going 90 in a 75. No big deal right? Wrong. It gets better. Apparently my driver's license is suspended (not something I was aware of), no proof of insurance, and the plates on the bike seem to belong to a 2004 Honda XR650L, not a 2010 KTM 990 Adventure.

So, next thing I know, I'm wearing matching bracelets in the front seat of a cop car. But I'm still thinking...no big deal...I've got a few thousand dollars in my wallet. I can cover this action.

"How much will it cost for me to bond out?" I ask the cop.

"Well, since this is your 5th offense of driving on a suspended license, you don't get to bail out. The fifth offense is a felony, so you're going to be in jail until you get to see the judge."

Which is really not what you want to hear, of course.

Next thing I know, they're taking my jacket from me and I'm thinking "Hey...wait a minute..what if I get cold? I need that..." Like, it's hard to process what's going on. It's not a fun time.

So now I'm changing into a prison orange jumpsuit that says Sherman County Jail on the back. Putting on prison orange crocs. They take everything from me and hand me a pillow, a thin mattress, sheets, pillow case, towel, toothbrush, and a cup.

I'm so clueless I'm thinking I'm going to be getting my own cell. Instead, they slide open some steel doors and I realize I'm going to be in a cell with 6 beds. There's already 4 people in the cell they put me in. It occurs to me that I may need to be ready to fight.

I pick a top bed bunk against the wall and put my mattress into the sheet, pillow into the case, and climb into bed.

They tell me I can make a phone call, but I'm not really in the mood to call anyone. I lay down and try to fall asleep. I see some books on the empty bunk beside me and ask if I can read them. The one guy says "sure - It's all AA stuff...I'm getting tired of it."

So, I start reading the AA literature. It's an AA book of people telling how they turned their lives around. I start reading some of the stories. I'm not clear that I qualify as an alcoholic or not. More likely I'm just an idiot. I certainly wasn't drinking today. That's not what got me here, so far as I can tell.

They announce it's time to eat dinner, but I'm pretty clueless about what to do. Everyone leaves though, so I follow them. We walk down to a small room with a television and two small tables. They serve dinner through a slot in the wall to us. Dinner is macaroni and cheese, two slices of bread. Then pass your cup through the same hole and they fill it with tea.

Go back to my cell and climb into my top bunk. The guy beneath me complains about me stepping on his bed to climb up to my bunk. They tell me to climb up on the stainless steel toilet instead, which I do.

Sit in bed and choke down the macaroni and cheese and bread. There's not enough calories in it to keep a human alive, I'm pretty sure. And I don't normally eat much anyway.

There's no privacy at all. There's a stainless steel toilet at the foot of my bed, and people use it while I'm trying to go to sleep. They flush the toilet and it wakes me up if I happen to be asleep. Sounds roughly like a freight train driving through a room with concrete floors and cinderblock walls.

At some point, they turn off the television, which seems to play the movie Grease nonstop, as best as I can tell. They turn off the lights.

I start to think about what Bill asked....where will I be in six months? Survey says it's not looking good.

I fall asleep somehow. In they morning, they tell me they're serving breakfast, but I skip it and sleep in.

ICE takes away one of our cellmates, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, to be deported. Now, there are a total of four of us in the cell.

At lunch time, I follow them to get my lunch tray, praying it's not macaroni and cheese. This time, we get something like a TV dinner with salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, and corn. Also, a little container of applesauce and a granola bar.

After you eat, you push your tray through the same hole you're served through and it falls into a trashcan.

Now, the bartering begins. They're swapping applesauce containers for granola bars. You begin to realize how valuable everything is in this surreal environment. Having a pencil is a huge deal. Books are prized and coveted. A packet of salt is valuable here. Everything has a value unimagined by the outside world.

The people all seem friendly enough to me, but when I sit on Avery's bed (another inmate), they tell me "I wouldn't sit on his bed," and I quickly move. "You can sit here though."

They ask me what I'm in for. I tell them I'm in for "felony driving without a license" as if that even makes any sense.

One guy is facing 243 months (20 years and 3 months) for spitting on a cop. Apparently he has a pretty serious alcohol problem. Was already enrolled in college. Supposed to be starting in college next month or so. Now he's facing 20 years in the pen and has a $100,000.00 bond. They found him walking down the middle of the street so drunk it wouldn't register in the field. At the hospital, they said he was 0.32. Apparently, he has Hepatitis C, which can't be spread through saliva. But then they tested him for HIV and another type of Hepatitis, which can be spread through saliva, but he tested negative for those.

When he spit in the cop's face, apparently, he was strapped in a chair in the hole and the cop was filming him with a cam corder and he spit in the cop's face. This all happened on Friday, last week, which screwed up the normal dinner schedule for the rest of the inmates, plus it was quite a commotion, I understand.

They tell me that I should have outrun the highway patrol, as they're not allowed to go on high-speed pursuits any more. Like, this is what I need, right? Advice from incarcerated criminals on how to get away from the police. Great. I don't run from the police any more. I gave that up years ago.

As it turns out, the guy telling me to run from the police tried it himself. He was going triple digits when he totaled his truck. They caught him, of course. Believe it or not, he didn't lose his license over the incident. Nor did he get a DUI even though he was drunk.

I try to go back to sleep, still listening to Grease play on the endless loop in the next room. Finally, they call "Kiser....Robert Kiser" and I can't believe it. It's like a dream.

"Have you filled out a financial affidavit yet?" she asks. I just stare ahead like a zombie. The other inmates answer for me.

"No. He hasn't."

She gives me a piece of paper and a pencil to fill it out with.

"Hurry up and fill this out. The judge is waiting on you. You've got like 3 minutes."

I don't have to fill anything out, of course. I have the right to an attorney. I know all of that. But it asks if I'm employed. If I have any money. What I do for a living. I put that I'm broke and unemployed in hopes they'll assign me an attorney for free.

She has walked away, so I turn to my cellmates and ask "who's pencil is this?"

"It's hers. She gave it to you. But you should keep it," they offer. How quickly I learn to think like them. I hide the pencil in the cell and walk out the cell door after her.

"Where's my pencil?" she demands.

"Huh?"

"My pencil. I gave it to you. Where is it?"

"I dunno. I must have lost it."

"When we come back, you have to give it to me," she explains as she puts handcuffs on me.

She leads me down the hallway to a door. An officer comes and she hands me off to him. He walks me outside.

It's good to see the sky again. In jail, there's no way to know what time of day it is. Just artificial light and clocks, but no connection to the world outside.

It's warm and the sky is clear and blue. A light wind. I stand for a second in the middle of the street, taking in the warmth.

"It's good to see the sky again," I offer.

"It's hot," he complains.

Now, we walk into the Sherman County Court House. The cop leads me into a dark court room. Very Kafkaesque. He tells me to take a seat and I do. They take my financial affidavit. The judge comes in and starts talking. I have no idea what he's saying. I'm not a lawyer. I never even bothered to call my lawyer, because I'm not sure what the play is here.

The judge reads to me slowly each crime that I'm charged with. You'd think I was an axe murderer instead of an idiot on a motorcycle. Surprisingly, they're all misdemeanors. None of them are felonies. So, when the pigs told me I'd committed a felony, they were wrong, it seems.

The judge looks at my financial affidavit and tells me that I won't get a court appointed attorney. Then, they make up a piece of paper and hand it to me. It has everything I'm charged with. It's basically as thick as War and Peace. I'm charged with everything from gluttony to avarice, and the bond is $3,000.00.

I'm ecstatic to see that the bond is only $3,000.00. After all, my cellmate's bond was $100,000.00. I've got nearly $2,000.00 on me. All I need is another grand and I can walk.

Then the judge offers me an option. If I front them $800.00, then I won't have to come up with the full $3,000.00. I'm like..."Deal."

"Do you have any questions?" the judge asks.

"Am I free to go?"

"Well, first, you have to pay the $800, then they have to get the paperwork over to the jail, but then you can go. However, I warn you that you'd better be sure to come back here on your court date with an attorney. Since this is your 5th offense for driving on a suspended license, you can plan on doing some time in jail.

They bring in an envelope with all the money I had on me when I came in. They take out eight one hundred dollar bills, and lament that they wish they could check them to see if they're counterfeit. But they can't, so they shut up and accept them.

Back to the jail. My cell mates ask me if I'm getting out, and I tell them yes, and they're all happy for me, of course.

She forgets to ask about the pencil, so I give away my pencil and my applesauce.

About an hour later, they call for me again, and this time, she tells me to gather up all my belongings, so I grab my mattress, pillow, and the rest and leave the jail.

"Good look," I tell my cellmates as I leave.

Change back into my street clothes in a little room and now she gives me the rest of my stuff and the rest of my money. Walk out the back and a door opens up and they release me like a trapped rodent from a trap.

I see a gas station and walk towards it. Buy some food and an iced tea since I'm starving half to death. I give the guy at the counter my laptop and cell phone and he starts everything charging.

Sitting in the gas station, so happy to be outside. Free. Hard to describe this emotion.

When my cell phone is charged up enough I start making some calls.

I call the towing company, and they say they won't release my motorcycle without proof of insurance and registration on the bike. So, I'm not clear how to get the motorcycle free. Plus my license is still suspended. So, I'm not really sure what to do next.

I have my heavy C.C. Filson handbag. And there is no car rental here in town.

I decide to check into a hotel room so I can rest and regroup. But the hotel is about a 20 block walk, and I don't want to do it in the hot sun with my heavy handbag if I don't have to. What I really need is for a total stranger to give me a ride across town.

I see a guy leaving the gas station...he's delivering pizzas if you can believe it...so I call after him..."Hey...pizza delivery guy...can you take me to the Days Inn hotel down near I-70?"

"Sure. It's on my way. Hop in," he replies.

On the way to the hotel, I make a reservation on the iphone on Hotels.com. Check into the hotel and crash for the night.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 18, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Comments

And to think I called you a liar...

Posted by: TL on July 18, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Well, if it makes you feel any better, you were the first person to contact me. No one else even missed me. :(

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on July 18, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Ha. I'd texted you days earlier and you ignored me. But yeah, you're on my mind more often than you realize. Glad you're sprung. Now keep it clean and law-abiding..

Posted by: TL on July 19, 2013 at 7:18 AM

Congratulations, genius! Your plan for failure succeeded. Speeding, no proof of insurance, no plates, suspended licence. What could possibly go wrong?

You must be very proud of your self-made failure.

PS: You might have detected a slight lack of sympathy. I sorta get that way around people who cause all of their own problems.

PPS: Don't you think you're about ready for the big league now? The suspended licence/no plates gig is pretty lame, and getting old. How about dropping the passive aggression for some of the real thing, like, say spitting in a cop's face, or carrying a gun into a 7/11.

Posted by: Doug on July 19, 2013 at 12:39 PM

I'm glad you were able to get locked up before you made it back home. You didn't have to share a cell with Ben Dover did you?

Posted by: Willis on July 19, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Doug, I was not aware that my driver's license was suspended. I'm still not clear why this occurred. All of the other stuff I was prepared to deal with.

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on July 19, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Willis - Didn't have to make anyone my bitch or put a shiv in anyone. All of the guys in my cell were pretty nice to me. One dude was taken away by ICE while I was there. Avery wasn't overly friendly, but he left me alone. The other two guys were very friendly. When I left, I left them all of my goodies (toothbrush, pencil, apple sauce, and granola bar).

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on July 19, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Oh, you didn't know! Well imagine how stupid I must feel now.

Of *course* you didn't know. I mean, why should anybody expect you to know that?

By all means except my apologies, and do continue with the pity fest.

Posted by: Doug on July 20, 2013 at 8:17 AM

Doug, I didn't ask for your pity. I'm just stating what happened to me. There's no way I could have known my license was suspended, as it was suspended on June 18 and I was out of the country. Probably you would have figured it out, but I was unaware of this issue, as I'm not clairvoyant.

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on July 20, 2013 at 9:30 AM

If I were you, Rob I'd blame recent events on, as you like to call them, the PIGS.

Because it's obviously not your fault that your license got suspended, right? I mean you couldn't possibly have done anything that would have lead you to suspect that might happen. Correct?

But look at the bright side: how else would you have been able to write about being in jail with a bunch of losers?

You know what? I'd even go so far as to bet that if your former roommates were to be interviewed, they'd each say that it wasn't their fault they were there either.

Oh, well, to each his own. We each have complete, 100% freedom to use our grey matter in any way we see fit. No one can take that away from us.

But please, don't try to bullshit me: this whole story is one big large pity fest. Poor Rob being held down by The Man.

Posted by: Doug on July 20, 2013 at 9:59 AM

I'm not clear why you choose to call my daily web story a "pity fest". Actually, it was anything but. The last 8 weeks of my life have been one amazing adventure after another. And I was glad to share it with the people that live vicariously through me, and I can assure you, there are many. I never said it was the pig's fault I was in jail. That was your assertion. I don't know why my license was suspended, and I suspect it was a mistake and the charges will be dropped. My court date was June 18th, and I was told by the County Clerk not to come as the power was out. So, my assumption is that they make a paperwork mistake. I have not done anything to warrant my license being suspended. I have an attorney. A court date has been set in August. I will be there for my trial. Again, you can choose to interpret the story any way you see fit. Going to jail is not something I'm proud of....but it's something that happened to me at this point in my life. I shared it with the world, not as something to be proud of. Not as something to pity me for. Only as something that happened to me on a motorcycle trip you'd never have the balls to take. I drove for weeks, alone, for thousands of kilometers through some of the most dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere...through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. You don't have the balls to go south of the border and you and I both know it. I wish you the best. But if all you're going to do is tear me down, I don't really need it, my friend. It's not helpful, and you don't know what you're talking about.

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on July 20, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Hey, Rob, I've got an idea: let's fall out of touch.

I'll start.

Posted by: Doug on July 20, 2013 at 10:00 PM

You'll be sorely missed.

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on July 20, 2013 at 10:33 PM

Finally. Where he read pity-seeking between the lines is a mystery. Those of us who know you know better.

Posted by: TL on July 21, 2013 at 8:06 AM

P.S. - Bet he's lurking. Hi Doug.

Posted by: TL on July 21, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Yeah, I dunno really what his deal is. I guess he's jealous? I dunno. But, like, no one with any sense of dignity would publish on an open web page that they were arrested and put in jail. It's nothing to be proud of, clearly. Only, it is something that happened to me, so I wrote about it. Nothing I'm proud of. Not seeking pity. Just relaying what was, to me, a very intense experience. I personally believe that I am innocent in that, to be guilty, you have to be "knowingly driving on a suspended license". Of that charge, I am clearly innocent, as I had no clue my license was suspended, and no idea why it would be suspended. I dunno. Life goes on...

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on July 21, 2013 at 3:51 PM

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