Danger on the Road
As if landing in Austin, TX and seeing an elderly man drag a dead body across the airport wasn’t enough…
Andrea and I were faced with a potentially dangerous situation near Fort Stockton, TX.
Low on gas, Andrea thought the safe option would be to refill as Alpine was still 2 hours away. We saw a sign for a gas station and veering right off the main highway, proceeded along the access road for half a mile. We then made a right turn, driving several yards before ending up at an Exxon gas station just within sight of the main highway.
The time is about 12:30 AM- dark and empty, but for a couple of stray cats, storefront with globs of sealant carelessly applied to cover cracks, chipped paint. It looks to have been deserted for an indefinite period of time- a scene reminiscent of House of Wax, Cabin in the Woods, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or a real creepy gas station. Take your pick.
Pulling into the first of four pumps, Andrea parks, pulls the key out of the ignition, and steps out of the car. I notice a white Chevrolet truck approaching.
My intuition (usually useless) signaled danger. We were vulnerable. We had no way to defend ourselves if faced with a serious threat such as robbery or kidnapping. And all this/these stranger(s) needed was brute strength.
The truck stops briefly on the road before pulling into the Exxon. A man rolls down the window, asking Andrea, “Did you run out of gas too?” Andrea, pumping gas, barely looks up and responds evasively, “Yeah.” The man continues, “Do all of these pumps work?” To which she responds, “I don’t know.” As he starts to ask another question, Andrea pulls out the gas pump, closes the nozzle, and carefully walks to the car.
At this point, I’m playing out various scenarios in my head- what will we do if he has a gun, a knife, accomplices? What advantages do we have that he doesn’t?
The man drives around to the other two pumps, stops momentarily by the passenger’s side (my side), and slowly turns on to the road, without getting gas.
Life lessons learned:
- Avoid being defenseless, especially on road trips. Bring something to protect yourself.
- Avoid unfamiliar gas stations at night if possible.
- If something seems suspicious, it probably is. Drop what you’re doing immediately and leave.
In our case, we got lucky.
Have you ever found yourself in danger while traveling?
“I only fear danger where I want to fear it.”- Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis