Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Surrounded#5: Missing Person’s Report

Posted on | November 19, 2010 | 1 Comment

When Mr. Hundert called to find out what happened to his son following the protest, he was told the police had no record of Jonah’s arrest.  When his father said he saw Jonah on CBC being arrested, the police told him once more they don’t have any record of it. If his son was missing he should file a missing person’s report. After a while he does exactly that.  Their son Alex Hundert is in jail and the other is a missing person.

Meanwhile Jonah’s girlfriend Monica goes to the detention center and waits for her boyfriend to be released.  It soon begins to rain but this makes no difference. She won’t leave until she sees him again.

While his family is searching for him, Jonah Hundert has entered his eighth hour in the detention center and is stuck in a cage with 35 others that is meant for no more than 10.

“I feel stupid but what is this G20 thing?” asks a man in his early twenties wearing an Alice Cooper t-shirt, with long dreads going past his shoulders.

“What was that?” asks Jonah.

“I don’t know what it is,” replies Alice Cooper. “I live near Allan Gardens. The cops jumped me and brought me here. I don’t even know what it is. I tried telling them that but they didn’t believe me.”

“So you have no idea what this is all about?”

He shakes his head.

“Do you?”

With that, Jonah begins to try to explain the G20 and why the protesters are in cells. Truth? He’s struggling to understand it all himself.

“Oh shit,” says Alice Cooper. “I’m with you guys. This is bullshit.”

In another part of the cage, a man has collapsed against the wall. He’s having trouble breathing and experiencing difficulty explaining his distress. He’s German, doesn’t speak very much English and the effort of explaining his condition is taking what little energy he has left. He is very pale.

It turns out he is diabetic and needs his insulin.  The cage is mobilized around this goal, as they will come together again and again to help each other throughout their stay in Eastern Avenue.

For the next several hours those inside try to convince the guards outside the German man needs medical attention. At one point, a guard looks in and sees the man collapsed against the wall, white as a ghost. Jonah assumes the man will finally get some help.

“Pfff. He’s not going to die. Shut the fuck up,” says E. Guertin, badge number 90264 and turns away.

A few minutes later the man passes out and finally gets medical attention.  The guards enter the cage; take him out and the doctor gives him a shot of insulin and a glass of orange juice. Then it’s back into the cage.

Another man has a broken nose and concussion and doesn’t quite remember how he got here in the first place. He makes it clear he is a photographer and every now and then asks for medical attention. Watching how the cops treated the German doesn’t encourage him to think the guards will treat him any better. Soon he stops asking.

“Hey guys,” says another man quietly, and then more loudly, trying to get the attention of everyone in the cage. His handshakes and he pauses and stutters for a moment before getting to the point. “Ummmmm I have a mental condition that I’m usually medicated for. I don’t think there will be a problem or anything. I have taken it late before but I just thought I should tell you. Just so you know.”

When the guards pass by the cage the man informs the guard of his situation. “I know you won’t give medication. But I need some water. Please I’m very thirsty. I need something to drink.”

No one has been given enough water.

The air conditioner is on full blast. Which means it’s cold and there is also an excruciating white noise in the background at all times. The 17-year-old boy–who still hasn’t been allowed to call his parents—shivers off in the corner.

“Could you give the kid a sweater? He is really cold,” asks Jonah.

“No exceptions.”

Without exception everyone is cold. More requests for food and water are made and refused.

Finally Jonah has lost patience.  He slams his hand into the cage. “We need food and water.”

Officer E. Guertin, badge number 90462, smacks back at the cage.

“If you touch the cage again, I’m going to drag you out of the cage and kick the shit out of you.”

Once more the protesters are yelling and each time they yell their voices sound more hoarse and broken. They have been yelling all day and have little voice left after so many hours in captivity.

Every few hours, guards line them up against the wall and tell them that they are going to be processed soon. A few hours later, the guards would return, tell them to line up against the wall. They would, the guards said, be processed in no time at all.

One police officer eats his lunch in front of the cage, slowly savoring every bite.

Hours pass without food or water. Panic slowly starts to set in. Every few seconds, thoughts of thirst break his concentration. So often people say that minutes become hours but after a while minutes are too long to be units of measurement. Instead you try not to think about all the screaming your body is doing and focus on something else. Before this day eclipsed the rest of your life and made your future the few seconds that fit in minutes that fit in hours since your last drop of water. Since the last time you ate.

Some deal with it better than others.

One way is making fun of the guards.

The problem is how does one make fun of a guard in a room full of people who have been protesting against gender, economic and sexual inequalities?

“Are you just doing this because no man would have sex with you?” asks a cellmate who goes by the name of Mo, as a female guard walks by drinking from a bottle of water.

“You really shouldn’t do that,” says Jonah.

“Do what?”

“They’re assholes,” says Jonah. “Agreed. But there are women in the cage next door. You don’t have to shit on her gender. A lot of people here marched against that. There are other things you can say to insult her.”

“I’m just tired and hungry. All right. What mean things should I say?”

“You’ll figure something out.”

Minutes pass and another guard walks by.

“Ok,” says Mo. “Let’s give this another shot.”

“Hey, I was wondering if you guys were taught to read or if you just dropped out of school in Grade 9? I mean if you could read you would probably see what a serious breach of our rights this is,” says Mo.

The guard glares and continues on his way.

“Dude, I’d bet not everyone in this cage has a high school education. Not everyone has that luxury. If you’re insulting these assholes for that, then you’re insulting them too.”

“Alright,” says Mo. “Back to the drawing board.”

He waits for a few moments and Jonah can see him going over various insults, preparing himself for the next guard. You might ask what would be the point in yelling at the guards. The point, ultimately in Jonah’s mind, is that if you can get under their skin you can force them to realize that you exist. After hours in detention they are slowly getting used to the fact that while you live in a cage you don’t really exist to the outside world.  You can have a panic attack, go into insulin shock and no one gives a shit. You’re a missing person until someone finds you.

“What do you guys make, like $18 000 a year?” asks Mo. “Broke-ass losers. No wonder you assholes are so bitter.”

“Not cool. Dude,” says Jonah. “You were arrested at an anti-poverty march. There are people in here who probably make less than these assholes. Think about what you’re saying about them.

Mo looks and sees a few homeless men sitting with their backs against the wall.

“Sorry,” says Mo. “I’m just hungry and I don’t want to think about those fucking cheese sandwiches.”

Food. Images of burgers and beer come into his mind and he can feel himself salivating.

“I just keep thinking of what I’m going to eat when I get out,” says Mo.

Discussion of food is too much for one detainee. Earlier he was making jokes with the rest of them but he can’t take it anymore. He is weeping, begging on the floor for water and something to eat.

A long awhile later the guards bring one last processed cheese sandwich slathered in too much margarine. This time Jonah has no problem finishing it and finds it disappears before he can really taste it. What’s better is the water.  He gets a full shot glass and throws it down almost immediately. He is almost not thirsty when he finishes.

After a day and a half, he is ready to grab some sleep and hope that when he wakes up this will all be over. Falling asleep in a room of shouting prisoners is not the easiest task. He lies down on the ground, closes his eyes and eventually he is asleep.

When he wakes up he is fairly certain he is in hell.

“No man. The karmic alignment is so obvious, man. They bring down this negative karma and they are totally going to reap it,” says an earnest voice punctuated with too many “likes” to be included in this narrative.

“We are all connected man,” says the earnest voice. “We are god.”

Jonah’s eyes close and he struggles to get back to sleep. Unfortunately sunshine happy thoughts keep getting dropped on his consciousness and he can’t fall asleep in the pit of hippy spirituality occurring directly to his right.

He wakes up and seeks out Mo to distract him from the half-baked spirituality love-in.

“You guys are still here?” asks a female police officer who was there when they first entered the detainment center. “Let me see what I can do.  I’ll figure this out. I promise.”

The female guard returns and explains the reason they have been detained is a bureaucratic mix up.

“First room is supposed to be holding,” she explains. “Then you are processed and talk to the detective then taken out and released. Only more people were coming in so we moved you to the third room until you could come back and be processed. Seems they forgot about you. I’ll fix this.”

A lot of time passes before she comes back and saves the day.

“I hate those sandwiches,” says Mo. “I’d like another one.”

“Me too.”

“We are going to take you out one at a time,” says another in the endless line of guards.  Jonah is one of the first they take out and a burly guard grabs him firmly by the arm nearly yanking his shoulder out of its socket.

“Dude let go of my arm,” says Jonah. His grip tightens. “Please I don’t want you to hold my arm.”

Still the grip gets tighter.

Jonah yanks his arm away and the cop falters for a second before shoving him.

“This is illegal custody, you dicks,” says Jonah. “Where is my lawyer?”

Wrong thing to say.

He is shoved into a new cage with 10 guys he hasn’t seen before and one he has. Humorously enough the one he’s seen is a legal observer helping out the activists. He has, in fact, accidentally been taken to his lawyer.

He is now in his third cage.

He wonders how long he is going to be in this cage and if there is another in his future. If this whole thing is an endless game of musical chairs and being told he will be processed soon, only to be put in another cage, receive a new promise and then wait until he has lost his mind as he makes his way through the complete circuit of prisoners and cages and knows every sad story and sees every good person give into the panic of this place.

A gnarled looking police officer walks up to the cage.

“You are all charged with breach of the peace,” says the police officer. “If you attend any more demonstrations you will be charged. Am I understood?”

“Are you giving us any documentation?” asks the lawyer.

“You can look it up online,” says the officer.

“Where?” asks the lawyer.

The police officer marches them out without any explanation.  Outside it’s pouring rain and Jonah can barely believe they’ve actually let him go.

His eyes slowly adjust to natural light after hours spent under the neon bulbs of the detainment center.

He quickly scans the line and finds the face he has been waiting to see for 20 hours. He promised his first phone call would be to his girlfriend Monica.  Since he wasn’t given a phone call he is happy she has been waiting for him just like she promised she would.

The moment is strangely cinematic; all that’s missing is music.  He kisses her and doesn’t remember for how long, though he knows several chants begin and die in the interim as rain cascades from the sky and freedom tastes like her lips.

“I need to eat,” he says.

“Where do you want to go?” she asks.

“Burgers and beer.”

“Sure.”

He wants to stay for jail support but he has been on Eastern Avenue too long to stay a moment longer.

For the stories of others who suffered at the G20 go here.


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One Response to “Surrounded#5: Missing Person’s Report”

  1. Surrounded Part 4 of 6: Inside Eastern Avenue detention center, property bags and panic attacks | Colony of Losers- Surviving the Depression of Being A 20 Something
    November 19th, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

    [...] Part 5 here. If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! var a2a_config = [...]

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    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

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