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.