Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Perils of Pauline

Recently an Internet female friend posted a query on a discussion board I frequent. Obviously she'd solved the problem or she wouldn't have been posting. She was just asking for our responses to the situation.

After giving us the basic information she promised to come back and tell us what she'd done after we'd all responded. Here's what happened and my response:

As I was driving along that afternoon, I passed a small car and noticed that the man inside it was staring fixedly at me, rather than at the road. (Hard to miss -- the car, the man, and the decorations were all... unusual.)

I took about 1.5 seconds to glance over at him before continuing to drive. I'd been going abouy 70 to this car's 60, so expected to just continue to pull ahead. Instead, the car sped up and kept pace with me. The man pulled up next to me again and continued staring, then backed off and followed me.

OK, we've got a guy who obviously wants to be noticed. ("he had a giant cowboy hat with feathers, drove a rather decrepit sports car in a bright color, wore sunglasses on a day too cloudy to need them, and had incredibly wild hair and beard.") And who may have taken umbrage at your passing him. Or he may have some other problem.

Option #2 the whacko picked a lone female for some "fun and games" on the highway where no one else was around.

The first thing to remember is that as long as you are in your moving car no one can grab you or pull you out of it so NEVER let them get you stopped! If he gets in front and cuts you off, then starts slowing down trying to stop you remember that reverse is also moving.

As long as you're in your car and it's moving he can't get out of his car to get to you. Never forget as long as you are behind the wheel you are in control of a multi-thousand pound weapon!

Second. Even on remote stretches of highway there's usually some traffic. Find another car and buddy up by getting in FORNT of your new found friend and going fast enough where s/he won't want to pass you. Drivers feel they own the road for a certain distance in front of their car, stay just ahead of that comfort zone. The stranger will have no interest in what's going on between you and Mr. Weirdo, but s/he's a potential witness and the mere presence of witnesses can dissuade reprobates.

Another way to gather witnesses is to pull alongside an 18 wheeler and stay there. Trucks, particularly loaded ones, tend to be slower than "four wheeler" traffic. By driving alongside of a trucker you'll create a backlog of witnesses around Mr. Weirdo.

Third, start looking for cops. Yeah, I know, there's never a cop around when you want one, but if you see one turn on your emergency flashers, honk your horn and stop him. It may take an illegal U-turn on the freeway to get to him but don't let the fear of getting a ticket cost you your life.

Be sure to use the official "Authorized Vehicles Only" crossover, this is no time to get stuck in a ditch.

If the cop is already stopped try to stop in front of his vehicle (cops don't like people pulling in behind them) and keep your hands in plain sight as you approach the patrol car.

"Just the facts, ma'am"
If you've ever watched Cops or any of the other cop shows on TV you know that the complainants waste valuable time explaining all sorts of nonessential details to the officer. Don't be that guy! The cop doesn't need nor want to know where you're going or why or how often you go there. If the cop wants any of that info s/he'll ask you for it.

If you've seen a gun TELL THE COP!

In short sentences explain why the guy with the feathered hat is creeping you out and what he's done so far. Then Obey the officer's instructions! S/he doesn't know you or your motives so you'll be treated as an idiot civilian who needs to be kept safe, but out of the way, until the cop can determine what's really going on.

Cops are all about control. With them controlling the situation ranks right up their with not getting shot. If you insist on exercising your right to free speech and expression look forward to spending some quality time in the back seat of a patrol car. Worse your interference (yes, that's what it is when you don't follow instructions) could distract the cop for critical seconds and get you both killed.

If you can't find a cop all is not lost. Are there construction workers? Pull up to the biggest group of the biggest hard hats you see. Pull all the way off the roadway, but not so far that you can't get back on by driving forward. After all none of the aforementioned people has a steak in your survival.

OK, let's say it's late and there's nobody on the road but you and Mr. Weirdo. What to do? Look for an open store or someplace with lots of people like an official Roadside Rest Area. Don't get out of your car unless there are lots of people there. The nice thing about Rest Stops is that they are built for driving through. You can keep moving if you don't see something you like. Of course Truck Stops are great too.

The standard rules apply: Miscreants are after what they want to take from you, not attention from witnesses. Whether it's running, yelling and screaming, from a mugger in the grocery store parking lot or fleeing from a highwayman, drawing attention to yourself (with flashing emergency lights & honking horn) discourages degenerates.

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