Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The most scared I’ve been on the road

JayG’s got a meme going. I’ve been hit head-on by a drunk, but I didn’t really have time to get scared even though I was on a bridge overpass. There was the time the cruise control wouldn’t turn off, Sweet Daughter was in the car, and the more I braked, the faster the car went to compensate. (I put the car in neutral, steered off the road and turned off the ignition. Waited a minute, and turned it back on. Reboot – it was all good.) This was a little different. This one scares me because of all of the “what ifs?”

It was in the somewhere around 1997, and a weekday as I left work in the DC area for a doctor’s appointment outside of Annapolis. I was driving a 1987 Mitsubishi Mighty Max pickup. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and very few cars were on the road. Which is why I thought it was odd that I was being tailgated by a black sedan – there was plenty of room for him to pass. If slowed down, he slowed down. If I sped up, he sped up. I wasn’t terribly worried, I figured he was just being an ass. Then he pulled up next to me and made eye contact. And that’s when I realized that the situation was Not So Good. I was in a pretty rural area without any exits coming up. Mine was the next exit, but I had, oh, another 5 miles to go.

My mind raced ahead to think about the exit. Partway down the ramp, it divided. The left lane continued its curve (and to this day, I don’t remember where that left lane went), but the right lane cranked right, and then was a fairly straight downhill shot down to the other road.

So, I signaled and moved from the right lane to the left. He followed me. I waited until I was about a half mile from my exit, signaled right, and moved over. He followed right on my tail. I eased off the accelerator, signaled my turn, downshifted into 4th gear, and he tailgated me right on to the exit ramp.

At this point, I started picking up speed, and flipped my turn signal on to indicate I was staying in the left lane. I got going as fast as I thought I could go and not roll the truck, and at the last minute, cranked the wheel right and shot down the other lane of that exit ramp. He flew right past me.

Still being somewhat of a trusting soul naïve idiot, I figured it was just some jerk trying to intimidate me. At least until I looked in my rear view mirror and saw that he had stopped his car on the ramp, had gotten out, and was literally shaking his fist at me. And that’s when I got scared.*

Yeah. My blood pressure reading was a little high that visit.

*And to illustrate my former cluelessness further, it wasn't until years later when retelling the story that it dawned on me that he might have had duct tape, Hefty bags, a bow saw, and prior "trophies" in trunk of his. I'm a very lucky person, indeed.


  1. That you are, but you didn't let him intimdate you either!

  2. Luck and keeping your head won that day!

  3. Good story, but also I'm very impressed you kept your cool and thought your way out of it.

  4. And this, children, is why we have pistols...

    1. Anon above is correct, but the fact that you kept calm and rational saved the day. Good on you.

    2. This is why we have tow hooks and handbrakes (no brakelights showing as you decelerate suddenly and bad guy gets his front end smooshed).

  5. Anonymous: This was before I "saw the light". And it was Maryland. A pistol wasn't much of an option.

  6. Uggh. Maryland. When it comes to states named after women, I prefer Virginia. Good ol' Liz Tudor.