I always leave my gas tank with enough gas to allow me to dri­ve 100 miles or more should I need to escape the region quick­ly. I know that my tank holds enough to dri­ve 320–350 miles when full. Thus, when 200 miles rolls around, I fill up, peri­od. This is usu­al­ly on the way to or from work. I fill up, with­out fail. This is a good habit that I have worked hard to devel­op. Yes­ter­day, I put myself into a real­ly bad sit­u­a­tion by not fol­low­ing my own guide­lines.  Over the hol­i­day week­end, I hit the 200 mark while out doing hon­ey-do’s. I passed by sev­er­al gas sta­tions and did not fill up. On Mon­day,  I noticed but was run­ning late to work so could not stop for gas. After work, I only noticed after I got on the high­way and total­ly for­got once I got off the high­way and was in my neigh­bor­hood. Tues­day morn­ing, I was think­ing of oth­er things, so got back on the high­way head­ed to work when I looked down and the trip odome­ter read 310 miles. Damn it! The nee­dle was not on emp­ty, so I might have stretched it all the way to work. How­ev­er, I decid­ed to get off the free­way and fill up. I know that the neigh­bor­hood the free­way pass­es through is not good, but it was either stop and get gas or risk run­ning out before I got to the gas sta­tion by work. So, I pulled off.  As I did, I knew I was plac­ing myself at risk. The stores had bars on the win­dows and the area was gen­er­al­ly run down. I imme­di­ate­ly went to con­di­tion orange. I left my door open, had my pep­per spray in my hand and my knife was read­i­ly avail­able. I con­tin­u­al­ly scanned the area for trou­ble.

As luck would have it, there weren’t peo­ple milling around at 6:45 am. I was the only car fill­ing up and there was good vis­i­bil­i­ty in all direc­tions. Sud­den­ly, a semi trail­er arrives and parks on the street. The dri­ver jumps out with a piece of paper in his hand and starts head­ing straight towards me. Not all truck dri­vers are bad peo­ple, but some are. As he is head­ing towards me, I am siz­ing the guy up. How big is he? Are his hands vis­i­ble? Is there a vis­i­ble weapon? Is he alone? So, he was about my size, I could see both his hands and there was no vis­i­ble weapon. I undid the safe­ty on the pep­per spray and made my dom­i­nant hand ready to block or defend. He approach­es and points to the piece of paper and asked if I know where the address is.

Know­ing that mug­gers often attempt to dis­tract you by ask­ing direc­tions or ask­ing the time, I nev­er even looked at the paper, keep­ing my eyes on him and his hands. I told him (truth­ful­ly) that I did not know the neigh­bor­hood that well and that some­one prob­a­bly inside could help. Thank­ful­ly, he walked off. I kept scan­ning the area, fin­ished up pump­ing gas and got the hell out of there.

The les­son is that I vio­lat­ed a good prac­tice and put myself in a bad sit­u­a­tion. It was avoid­able and some­thing bad could have hap­pened. Even though I was in a bad sit­u­a­tion, I had a plan should things turn to crap. At least I had sev­er­al ways to defend myself if need­ed. A year ago, I did not even car­ry a knife, much less pep­per spray. Although noth­ing hap­pened, it could have.

Les­son learned.

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