Late June of last year I got up early, while it was still dark out, said goodbye to my in-laws, kissed my wife goodbye and began my long journey from Fort Pierce, Florida to Memphis, Tennessee. I drove in darkness for a while, listening to music and eating sunflower seeds to stay awake. I didn’t want to waste time stopping for lunch so I ate sandwiches and chips in the car, determined to make the trip in one day. After a while I left Florida and was on the boring roads of Alabama, and finally when I couldn’t take it anymore, afraid I was going to fall asleep, I stopped at a gas station on the outskirts of Birmingham to get something to drink and use the bathroom. I parked at a pump, hoping this would be my last fill up before reaching my destination and walked inside the somewhat crowded gas station.
I made my way into the bathroom and as I was washing my hands, a man in his mid forties walked in and stood between me and the doorway. He had seen me pull in and noticed my Florida license plate, and had apparently followed me into the bathroom to talk. I’d never been followed into a bathroom before but I much rather would have had that happen in a town I was familiar rather than in Alabama where I knew nobody and couldn’t call for help. He told me he was from Florida too, and asked precisely where I lived. He pretended, I think, to know where Fort Pierce was and said he’d vacationed there several times. Luckily, he stepped aside when I headed for the door, but he followed me out, which made me a bit uncomfortable. Getting a drink was no longer on my to do list. I just wanted to get out of there and back on the road, away from this strange man.
He followed me out to my car where I pumped the gas that I’d already paid for and told me that he was a trucker whose truck had broken down. He needed a ride to headquarters in Memphis, and since I was going that way, surely I could give him a ride. There was no way I was going to let this man get into my car, not that I could anyway, given that all of the space was taken up with boxes full of my belongings for the move. I told him this and he peered in my car to be sure, and thankfully sauntered away without an argument. I don’t know what would have happened if I’d had room in the car for him, but luckily I didn’t have to find out. I got back out on the road and just before dark pulled up to my dad’s house in Memphis, thankful to have finally reached my destination. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life, being followed into a gas station bathroom, but it was behind me and I could move on to start my new life. If you’re ever stranded somewhere and need a ride, my advice to you is don’t follow someone into the bathroom, because whether or not your intentions are pure, you come across as a creep.