Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rough Ride

 This happened in the fall of 1993, when I was 20 years old. In the interest of context, this was before I started college, and I was working in the material prep department of a plastics factory on the night shift. I was the only woman in the department, and my male coworkers were initially skeptical that I could handle the job, but I proved myself and earned their respect. It was hard work, but on the plus side, it also put me in the best shape of my life. It was also about this same time that I’d dumped my abusive boyfriend; he was verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive, as well as an alcoholic. This fact, more than anything, is probably why I got myself into this situation in the first place.

I had just gotten off work, and it was about 1:30am. My car was running on fumes, so I stopped at a local gas station to fill up. While I was pumping gas, a woman about my age approached me looking nervous and scared. She said that she had been at her boyfriend’s house, and they’d had a fight. She’d walked to the gas station to use the pay phone and call a friend to pick her up. On her way to the station, a car pulled up as she was walking and the guys inside started catcalling and harassing her. With a slight movement of her head she indicated a car that was parked off to the side by the gas station dumpsters. I saw a large light green car, like a Caddy or a Lincoln, with at least 2 or 3 shadowy figures inside. She said they threatened her, and she was too scared to call her friend and wait.

The woman was neat, well-dressed, and didn’t seem high or drunk or anything like that…she just seemed really nervous and freaked out, so I didn’t even hesitate. I finished pumping my gas and told her to hop in the car, that I’d take her home.

At that time on a weeknight, there was little traffic, so I booked it right out of the gas station and asked her where she lived. She kept twisting around in the seat to see if the car was behind us, and when I asked her to put her seat-belt on, she ignored me and kept looking for the car. I assumed she was just scared.

A few blocks down the road, however, I noticed she was looking around the car, and she started asking me about money, “Where’s your purse? Where’s your bag? I need money. You need to give me some money.” My stomach sank. I have this woman in my car, and now she’s gonna rob me. Fuck. But when I thought about it, robbery just didn’t make much sense. I was driving a 1985 Chevette (affectionately nicknamed “Shitbox”) and was wearing my work clothes: a ratty T-shirt and jeans with combat boots. I did NOT look like a person with a lot of cash primarily because I wasn’t a person with a lot of cash.

She’d twisted around in the seat again and started yelling, “There they are! There they are!” She didn’t sound scared anymore. I checked the rearview, and sure enough, the light green car is right behind me. She started cackling and bouncing up and down in the seat, “My boys are gonna FUCK YOU UP, bitch! They’re gonna FUCK YOU UP!” She’s laughing like crazy, opening the glove box, looking in the back for a bag or purse, telling me all the messed up shit these guys are planning to do to me.

Now, if I had been smart, I would have just driven to the police station. Actually, if I had been VERY smart, I would have called the cops from the gas station and waited with her until they arrived. That would have been the intelligent thing to do. Unfortunately, none of this crossed my mind until later. In the moment, I just got really, really fucking angry. I realized 3 key things all at once:
  • There was an intersection up ahead, with cars on either side waiting to cross, and the light had just turned yellow.
  • I had a spare box cutter that I kept for work in the driver’s side door compartment.
  • The crazy bitch still hadn’t put on her seat-belt.
I didn’t think. I floored it and passed under the yellow light just as it turned red. I glanced back to see if the green car was still behind me, but the cross traffic at the intersection had started to move, and they hadn’t caught up. The bitch started yelling; I slammed on the brakes and she hit the dash and windshield with a solid, and viciously satisfying, crack. When she rebounded to the passenger seat, I had the box cutter in her face and was screaming some serious bat-shit crazy. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was along the lines of, “Get the FUCK OUT. Get the FUCK out of my car before I CUT OFF YOUR FACE AND MAKE YOU EAT IT, BITCH.”

The crazy screaming and box-cutter combo worked. She grabbed blindly at the handle and popped the door open, and I started shoving and punching her until the bitch tumbled out the door to the curb. I stomped on the gas, got to the next turn and squealed around it with the passenger door still open. I made a few more turns because I was afraid that the green car might catch up to me. After a little while I stopped to close the passenger door, and then I cut across town and got on to the highway to go home. I was on the highway for about 5 minutes before the shakes started. I pulled off to the shoulder to calm down and get my shit together, and then I drove home.

I told my older sister (I was living with her temporarily after the break-up with my ex) everything that happened. She wrapped me in a tight bear hug while simultaneously yelling about how stupid I was for not going to the police. I’ve never been so glad to be yelled at in my life.


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