Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Saturday evening, after finishing a weekend shift at work, I hopped into BD and headed for Virginia Beach. Apart from drizzle and bad traffic as far as Quantico, the journey began uneventfully. Somewhere south of Richmond, unable to ignore the persistent, painful need to use a potty, I pulled off at a rest stop (an aside: I NEVER do this. When I drive somewhere, especially alone, I get in and I JUST GO. Back when I lived in Boston and I would come home to Virginia, I would do all eight hours of that without ever getting out of the car.) After coming out and starting up again, I noticed that BD had developed a distinct, loud, perpetual noise. BRRRRRRR RRRRRRRRRRRR BRRRRRRRR GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. This bothered me quite a bit, but he seemed to be running alright, and so I decided to press on. However, about 10 miles away from the rest stop, a white Hummer pulled up just off my bumper (other lane), flashed his/her/their brights, and then? Just sat there. Right off my bumper. FOR MILES. Now *that* officially freaked my shit out. Every email I'd ever received, every story I'd ever heard about women alone being preyed upon flashed through my mind. It was dark. It was late. It was remote. But the car kept running, so I kept going.

About 10 minutes of this tailing, and the Hummer finally pulled past and moved on, but never so far that he couldn't see me and I couldn't see him. Repeatedly, too, he would slow down enough that I caught up to his position. This went on for a good 30 miles, but each mile was bringing me closer to the end of the journey and apart from being really noisy, BD seemed fine, so I chose to press on rather than get off God knows where. Finally as I neared Newport News I felt I was close enough to my sister's that they could get me if the worst--a total breakdown--happened, and so I called her. I went so far as to give her the Hummer's license plate. Then, I kid you not, as soon as I made that call the Hummer took the next exit. I found that entirely sketchy (as if the situation wasn't already). After that I limped through the Hampton Roads Tunnel and off I-64, and made a beeline for my mechanic and had my pit crew (pictured) come pick me up.

I don't know what the deal ultimately was with that car following me. My car wasn't smoking, or sparking, so the Good Samaritan thing seems unlikely, especially since after the Hummer left the picture no other cars made similar gestures or alerted me to anything. I asked my mechanic if the problem with the car (a major exhaust leak, fixed to the tune of $225) was from normal wear and tear or if it looked to be manipulated or sabotaged in some way. He said no, it was just the consequence of having a 12 year-old car. So why the brights flashing? Why the tailgating? Why the preciptious exit after seeing me make a phone call?

That ordeal was not fun.

The Rescuers. Shelby (l) and Samantha, in their family minivan. After I limped the last 80 miles into Virginia Beach, they saved my sorry ass, picked me up at the service station, and comforted me with hugs. Thank GOD for family.


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