Allow me to share this story as a warning and a lesson on precaution to all of you. I have only two real photos from this day, which are the very last two. Since I know things like this are funner to read when there are big, pretty pictures throughout to look at, here is my story with the help of copyright-free, stock images and the most rudimentary version of my Photoshop skills to give you a feel for the events.
It was a sunny Tuesday morning, around 10:15, to be more precise. I was driving on an eastbound highway in Idaho, several car lengths behind a semi trailer.
I passed a sign that read “Game Crossing.”
With signage in previous states promising me moose, crocodiles, panthers, elk, and mountain goats, all without delivery, “game crossing” seemed a bit like a cop out.
About a mile down the road from the sign, I saw a thin man in a cowboy hat running wildly across the median from the westbound lanes towards my eastbound lanes.
“Well, that is not the kind of game I was expecting!” I said out loud to Gypsy with a snicker, “Man: the most dangerous game.”
Some complimentary foreshadowing with a literary reference. You’re welcome.
It then occurred to me to question WHY he was running across the median. First of all, this was miles from any exit. Both sides of the highway were nothing but dry fields; my side of the highway had just as much nothing as the other side. There was also the fact that, if circumstances DO lead someone to run across the highway, they usually slow down in the median.
That’s when I saw the police car coming down the westbound lane. As the man’s first step landed on the left eastbound lane, the police car turned and started driving through the median.
There were no cars in the left lane, across which the man made a mad dash before running in front of the semi trailer ahead of me. I slowed down, expecting to have to slam my brakes when the semi ran him over.
Surprisingly, the man appeared on the other side of the semi and started running down the shoulder of the road. The semi continued on. Once it had passed, the man ran in front of and towards Gypsy, his hands up as if motioning for me to stop.
It’s amazing how the brain works in high stress situations. Sometimes, reflexes increase and your thought process speeds up.
The first thought that I remember thinking at that moment was “I could run him over and end the police chase right here and now.” I figured that could get me into a lot of trouble, though. If nothing else, it would mean my having to stay in Idaho for an indefinite length of time for an investigation and paperwork, which I was not prepared to do. I also figured “vehicular manslaughter to end police chase” would not be covered by my car insurance.
By now, the police car had made it across the median and was blocking most of the left lane. This meant it would not be possible to swerve around the man without hitting the police.
The only other option was the stop. That’s what I did.
The next thing I knew, the man was beating on my passenger side window with the butt of a gun.
I will add here that, in high stress situations, there are also times your brain feels like it’s trying to run through water, and you’re left staring with your mouth gaping.
“My window is going to break,” I thought as I stared, taking this as a statement of inevitability.
His gun hit my window a second time. He drew his arm back for a third hit.
Suddenly, my brain reached shallow water.
“… not unless you DRIVE, BITCH!”
I slammed my foot onto the accelerator and the car lurched forward. There was a loud banging and clamoring along the side of the car, but I didn’t look. The pedal was against the floor and I didn’t even think to look in the rear view mirror until the whole scene was out of sight.
This is about the time when the maniacal giggling began. I looked at my passenger side window and saw blood spattered across it. The man was either bleeding when he hit my window or my taking off suddenly made him bleed. All I know is it took me over half an hour to find a car wash in Idaho.
Once I pulled into the carwash bay, I took these pictures of the aftermath.
Once the blood was washed off, I saw that there was absolutely no damage to the window. I pushed my car door shut a few days earlier wearing a flip-flop and scratched up my door; this man hammered at the window with a gun and nothing happened! Kudos to Gypsy and her Herculean windows!
I did, however, see some bloody smudges along the rear passenger window. I’m guessing that was the banging and clamoring I heard when I took off; he was grappling with the car.
A few days later, I finally thought of looking online to find out how it all ended. It turns out after I drove off, the man tried to jack an SUV behind me, which drove through the median to get away. The man then turned his gun on the police officers and they shot him. He died on the scene. I was one of the last people to see him alive.
Why am I telling you about this? Well, first of all, to let you all know that I am indeed alive and my heart has finally stopped palpitating. Secondly, this happened in the middle of nowhere on a highway, the last place one would ever expect to be carjacked. It can happen anywhere, at any time, and you have no idea how you will react until you are actually in the situation.
I don’t want you to drive around paranoid or avoid taking road trips because of this story. I am simply issuing a cautionary warning to pay attention at all times (and DEFINITELY do not play Pokemon Go while driving!).
For the record, I did head to Dick’s Sporting Goods in the next town for mace. Lightning rarely strikes twice, but one should never assume such things.
Let’s hope life gets a little duller in comparison for the rest of the trip.
Until next time, dahlings…