Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ruthie On The Road, Update

This is not meant to be an update, per Se...but I feel that it is important to post this right now. The photo below was taken the following day as I was leaving that awful place. Below is a copy of an email that I sent to several individuals today describing what happened to me in Kansas:

Kansas Hotel


Hello Again, Penny...

Assuming that you have received my first email, I am going to send
this second one to you. I want you to know what happened to me when I
was in Kansas last weekend.

Granted, I have hitchhiked all over the Continent (including Canada
and Alaska) but I feel that every woman has the right to be left in
the safest place possible. Especially when that woman is dropped off
by a member of law enforcement.

And after sixteen-years off-and-on the road, I am quite capable of
handling many situations...but what happened to me in Kansas NEVER
should happen to anybody. Period.

It is a truism that the Federal Government is searching for serial
killers who take out women every year along interstates, highways,
etc. And the most recent focus has been on truck drivers.

I think that is entirely possible. However, I wouldn't rule out cops, either.

Take what happened to me last weekend, for example:

I wanted to check with the City of St. Joseph about my situation but
finally got a ride too late in the day last Friday afternoon. I had
returned from a dismal reception in Tennessee. And I didn't realize
that I could have stopped in St. Joseph regardless of the time and at
least been sheltered for the weekend. I wasn't even sure that there
was even available shelter here. This is because the cops in Cameron,
Missouri misled me completely.

So I hitched a ride to Marysville, Kansas and by the time the sun went
down and the darkness set in, I was several miles outside of
Waterville, Kansas. I called for assistance on my cell phone. An
officer finally arrived from Marysville, but rather than returning me
there or at least bringing me back to Waterville...THIS is what he
did:

He drove me to the county line and left me by two large, empty,
barn-like structures out in the middle of nowhere. Literally. There
are no facilities, no water and only a dim vapor-light on a pole.

Before he drove away, he said that he would alert the next county and
let them know that I was there. But when I called that next county
hours later, they told me that they never received a call from him or
anyone about me. And they made it clear that they wouldn't come and
pick me up...even though a bed was waiting for me at the shelter in
Manhattan, Kansas. The shelter in Manhattan had told me when I called
them earlier in the day that because I didn't want to relocate to
Kansas (and after what happened to me there, I never will!) they would
only keep me there for two days. But the bed was there and I was out
in a dark, wide-open, desolate, dimly lit,
not-meant-for-human-habitation place where I shouldn't have been and
didn't need to be.

I was torn between making myself visible and keeping myself hidden
from the traffic on the road. And I realized at that time that I could
have easily been any body's victim.

The only saving grace was the live, outside outlet that I found on a
light pole that had a light that didn't work. The outlet did. I
plugged my cell phone into it and kept it charged up all night long.

At three-thirty in the morning, a pack of what I assume were coyotes,
started howling very near to where I was sitting. I broke my glasses
and I wasn't able to make out their exact position in the dark. But
all of my hairs stood on end.

The only thing that I could think of to do was to throw my head back,
take a deep breath and howl back at them for all I was worth. That's
what I did. It worked...after I howled there was a second of silence
and then they all howled back. So I howled again and the coyotes (or
whatever they were) went quiet and never bothered me again.

I am still mystified as to why that happened.

And I consider myself to be a pretty strong person and not a cry-baby.
However, that experience, sitting out there in that location, was one
of the spookiest situations that I have ever been in.

The next day, I walked away from there down the highway, grateful for
the morning sun and finally got a ride. The driver, after hearing what
happened to me, drove me all the way to the shelter door in Manhattan.
He only left me after he was sure that I would have a bed there for
two days.

And he and every other decent human being that I've told this story to is
ticked-off at the Kansas cops. And well they should be.

I wonder why the cop who dropped me off there was so intent on making
sure that I had no ties to anyone who would be concerned about my
whereabouts. And I wonder what would have happened had I not made that
cell phone call to the next county in the middle of the night.

My point in telling you about this is that I want to let you know how
women are still being treated in some parts of the Country. Small
wonder that some of them disappear. I doubt that many of those women
blog or use Twitter or can compose an email like this one. And I doubt
that many of those ladies would have taken a photo with a cell phone
the next morning before leaving that location and returning to the
road.

But I did.

And the photo of that place (that even looks scary in the light of
day) is now on public display on my Flickr. You can access it by
looking for photos under the username "ruthie_rader" on Flickr.

I don't ever want to go through an experience like that again, Penny.
And I would love nothing better than to get high enough in a stable
position to turn around and let the State of Kansas have it. Because
it is my impression that what happened to me will happen to some other
woman in the future...only the end result might not be the same as
mine.

I'm still alive.

This letter is going out to several people and will be posted on my blog.

Thank you for allowing me to share a snapshot of what is still
happening to homeless women (and men, most likely) "out there" on the road.

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