* Donít leave home without it. *
9 July 2002
A Texas Incident
At about eleven PM one night in 1990 while attending corporate training in the Oklahoma City metro, I received a phone call from my wife. She had traveled from our Denver home by auto so we could spend Thanksgiving weekend with my Great Uncle in Grapevine Texas. We were to drive down after classes on Friday. For some strange reason she had run out of gas just before the off ramp to the Sooner Fashion Mall in Norman. We never let the gas tanks go below ľ of a tank. She sounded quite agitated and asked me to please get some gas and bring it. And hurry!
I got into my 1973 Dodge half-ton pickup and drove to the mall. At a gas station I got a gallon can of gas and went and found my family on I-35. The children were unusually quiet and to put it mildly my wife was wired. The gas filler neck on the gasoline can I had bought was not long enough to fit into the vanís opening. Being the resourceful type I am I took my Mini-Mag light and removed the guts out of it. Then taking a sheet of paper I made a funnel that fit the hole in the flashlight body tube. Between the two of us we managed to get enough gas into the van to drive it to a station where we filled up. By that time it was past midnight and when they were finally settled in to the hotel it was around one in the morning and the Drunken Okie Road Show and Revue was just starting. It was a good time to be off the highways.
I made a mental note to get a filler funnel that would allow me to fill the tank by hand should that ever happen again. I also blew off my familyís strange unsettled demeanor to the lateness of the hour and their long drive south. The following evening after I got out of class we drove to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and had a real nice visit with my in-laws.
On the way to Texas I asked my wife if she had brought her revolver with her on this trip and she said she had left it at home. My wife is a gentle and trusting soul and had what I perceived to be a real hard time believing there were people out there who would do her and her family harm. We had discussed this repeatedly and she felt the handgun was more of a liability than an asset. When she answered my question I noticed she quickly glanced at my almost 14-year-old daughter with the "keep your mouth shut" look. At that time I thought it was to keep my daughter quiet because she was developing the annoying habit of arguing with me about any topic I chose to bring up. I thought she was staring my daughter down so we wouldnít argue. I was to find out the "rest of the story" later.
Now the rest of the story
Shortly after I got back from Oklahoma my wife sat me down and related what had happened to her and the kids on the trip down. It explained her uncharacteristically strange behavior. The story is as follows:
Once they had gotten on I-40 at Amarillo Texas and headed east my wife had gotten into a group of truckers and basically convoyed with them. She had one of the truckers that ended up passing her on the downhill stretches of highway and she would pass that truck on the up hill stretches. Being the friendly sort she finally waved at the trucker and he waved back. The kids got into the act by coaxing the trucker to blow his horn (a trick even I did as a child). This went on for about a half an hour.
They came up to a rest area and my wife stopped to go to the bathroom. The trucker pulled in also. When my wife got out of the van to go to the bathroom, the trucker grabbed her and picked her off her feet, trying to drag her into his truck. As she struggled with him my daughter, who is absolutely fearless, piled out of the van with a can of Mace in one hand and a six-inch hunting knife in the other. The trucker saw this tall female black leather jacketed teenager with the Berserker look on her face running toward him and immediately thought he needed to go elsewhere. He dropped my wife, made a beeline into his truck, and left the scene. They were all so rattled by the event no one got the license plate number off the truck. Everyone hurriedly got in the van and they hustled to Oklahoma, fearful to stop along the way.
That was why my wife who never ran out of gasoline, did. It also explained why they were acting so weird when I came to get them. And it explained "the look" my daughter got when I queried my wife about her revolver.
What did we learn and what have we changed? After some analysis it was this:
First of all, just because you are nice and respect others there are people out there who donít. If you are on a road trip donít be overly friendly with people because your friendliness might be interpreted as vulnerability and you may attract predators. Women are especially susceptible, just because as a rule they tend to be nicer than men and they are physically smaller and weaker, in other words, prey. People can and do get abducted in broad daylight, which it was. They also can and are attacked in crowded places, which the rest stop was. So be on your toes and aware of your surroundings. If it feels strange, you need to beat feet and get out of there. Lastly have some sort of armament and donít be afraid to use it. If you must stop in a non-secure area like a rest stop then have someone "ride shotgun" on the vehicle while the others do their business. That way they can monitor their surroundings and render assistance to the other passengers if need be. And every person old enough should be schooled in the use of the armament. As meager as it was, the hunting knife coupled with the Mace and determined look in my daughtersí eye caused the trucker to turn tail and run. When my wife now travels and gets the "feeling", she places the revolver on the passenger seat. Being stainless, it glows in the light as well as the dark. This simple action stopped another driverís aggressive behavior on I-80 when my wife made another road trip. But thatís another tale.
Oh, the title of this story, well it comes from the American Express credit card advertisements. They go something like this, " The American Express Card, donít leave home without it." Since this incident occurred we call her revolver the American Express Card, because you donít leave home without it. And she doesnít.
All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright (c) 1996-2002 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.